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How to Conduct an Internet of Things Platform Comparison

November 19, 2017

When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), the trend is in full swing, and the future is wide open. Major retailers are stocking their shelves with more and more devices that can be managed remotely, bringing us closer to a “smart home” that interacts with its owner in a way resembling something out of science fiction.

Still, nobody knows which IoT devices will catch on as the must-haves and which will end up novelties for early adopters or outmoded technology that never quite makes it off the ground. But regardless of the devices themselves, as more customers become interested in homes, automobiles, and other staples of modern living with usability and convenience enhanced by connectivity, a good platform on which to base an IoT setup is becoming a must. Asking the following questions about an IoT platform is key in undertaking a comparison that will help those getting into providing IoT solutions get in on the ground floor.

What Language Does It Speak?

A high-quality IoT platform facilitates the control of devices through numerous different protocols. A person with a smart home may want to communicate with his or her washing machine by text message, dim the lights by Bluetooth, and turn up the heat from a laptop. A good IoT platform will allow for the management and integration of all of the different kinds of traffic coming in and will facilitate all of the different kinds of back-and-forth output that the IoT model promises.

Is It Secure?

The question of network security is incredibly important in any online endeavor, and when it comes to IoT, its importance is only going to increase the more ubiquitous that the technology becomes. When an individual with nefarious intent can gain access to the locks on a person’s home or the computer that runs a person’s car, the imagination doesn’t have to wander too far to come up with a scenario where a network hack can cause big problems.

So when it comes to things like authentication and encryption, IoT platforms can’t let security protocols fall by the wayside. Every way that a mobile device communicates with an IoT-enabled device should be as secure as possible.

How Good Are the Monitoring Tools and Data Collection?

Being able to watch the traffic on an IoT network in order to determine what data are flowing in and out is important for a number of reasons. Not only is being aware of network traffic a necessary part of pointing out and addressing potentially malicious behavior, it also informs usability.

IoT devices have unprecedented abilities in terms of the kind of data they can collect—from information about our health and biometrics from our fitness trackers to information about our utility usage efficiency from our stoves and light switches. Does a platform collect this sort of data and allow a user to run reports, crunch the numbers, and contextualize the data in interesting, helpful ways? This is one of the big promises of the IoT and one that solution providers should be looking for in a platform.

As IoT technology continues to mature and evolve, there is a seemingly endless number of ways that different IoT devices can be enabled in conjunction with one another in order to help us better understand our habits and more efficiently manage our daily lives. Regardless of what standards end up catching on and what IoT devices become most popular, solution providers should stay on top of this rapidly growing area and make sure the platforms that they are working with will put their customers at the forefront of this emerging technology.

What problems have you seen when implementing an Internet of Things platform?