Making the decision to either build your own IoT platform or simply purchasing access to an already established platform is extremely critical, but also time consuming. According to a recent IoT Analytics report, there were at least 620 options that could be considered an IoT Platform! To facilitate that selection process and to get you up-to-date with everything you’ll need to know, this blog highlights the basic concepts and tips that we collected from experts and partners in the industry.  Let's start from some basic concepts that should not be overlooked and then narrow down to the areas that can be directly applied to your business process.

[1] The Relevance of IoT for Business:

Connected devices (things) can generate relevant data that when carefully handled by a platform, can be used to improve your company in your market by increasing sales, reducing operation costs, improving customer engagement, or launching new products and services.

Adopting IoT solutions will be like having machines working for you, for free (or almost). These machines can report relevant data, informing you of what's going on in the field operation, and your IoT platform will process this data and reveal to you what opportunities you can take to be more competitive.

IoT is transforming several markets as it has the ability to impact any industry that manufactures, moves, sells, or transforms physical objects. These are some of the key sectors that IoT is impacting:

Essentially, the major part of money in IoT solutions comes from automating processes, which includes sharing data with other online systems through the internet, achieving one of the greatest things in IoT: integration.

[2] The Fundamentals of an IoT Architecture:

The definition of IoT is always evolving due to the appearance of new technologies, but overall, it is a network of physical objects or devices that communicate and interact with each other via an internet connection. In a simplistic view, the IoT architecture consists of three elements: end-devices, connectivity, and the Cloud.

End devices are the networked things (sensors and actuators) found in the operational field. In an electronics point-of-view, they are embedded system devices, usually powered on batteries (either rechargeable or non-rechargeable). They’re responsible for acquiring all relevant operational data, pre-processing it and forwarding the relevant data to the Internet through connectivity. By pre-processing data, we are referring to the process of preparing the data acquired to be sent in a way that does not consume a lot of data, similar to data compression.

Connectivity works as an integrator between end-devices and an Internet connection. Connectivity offers long-range, low-energy consumption and secure communication between end-devices and a gateway, allowing gateways to send received data from end-devices to Internet systems (the Cloud). Very popular examples of network connectivity are: SigFox, LoRaWAN and NB-IoT.

The Cloud refers to server-side software and systems on the Internet, where IoT platforms are located. Once data reaches an IoT platform, it can be handled, and precious/reliable information can be extracted from them. The IoT platform is where we, human-beings, go in; we use IoT platforms to get information and make well informed, and  data influenced business decisions. To help extract such information, a variety of tools can be used in an IoT platform, such as: Artificial Intelligence models, dashboards, data analysis, etc.

[3] Buying vs. Building an IoT Platform

By now, you’ve understood that an IoT platform plays a major role in every IoT solution. However, which is the best option? Is it buying access to an existing IoT Platform or building your own?

To answer these questions, you will firstly need to know the reasons that are able to justify developing your own IoT platform. One basic thing to do is to check if there is any application enablement platform (AEP), like TagoIO, that can meet your goals. If there is something very specific that no platform in the market can perform, it may be a good reason to build your own. Other things to take in consideration are the quantity of IoT devices connected, the type of device, your internal development labor cost, and operational costs. Then you can compare costs of the investment and consider the time-to-market needed to deploy each option

It can be tempting to bring the whole development in-house as it gives the feeling of total control and independence of vendors. Nevertheless this is rarely the case, as today almost no companies can justify the investment to create everything by themselves, at least some parts almost always need to be done outside with the best partners. Keep in mind, AEPs are evolving quickly and adding more features. Also, to invest in building a team to start from the scratch and to maintain your own platform through its lifetime may be not justifiable. In the end, it ‘s more about your company strategy and vision. Do you want to build such competency around the basic technology, or do you want to focus your resources on the application side that will differentiate you from your competitors?

When leaders think through the whole process, most hidden costs come to light. Some examples of expenses and activities that are underestimated include: keeping the platform safe from security breaches, constantly improving & developing the solution, fixing bugs as fast as you can, and having a full-time support team available.

[4] How TagoIO Fits in the Ecosystem:

Among all of the IoT platforms available on the market, TagoIO acts as an easy-to-use platform while still being very powerful in scalability, data processing, integration to other online services and solutions, and — last but not least — offers all of these at a very affordable price.

TagoIO is the most powerful, affordable and focused on time-to-market solutions platform available right now, offering a great variety of resources such as:

• Very user-friendly and highly customizable dashboards
• Hundreds of certified end-devices and type of networks
• Data analysis capabilities using both internal or external servers, including machine-learning, report generations, and other functions
• Actions based on triggers. Services include email, push-notification, SMS, and push to end-points
• User and organization management
Integration with a variety of web services, such as weather web services, Googlesheet, Excel, and CRMs.
Custom domain and whitelabel version for branding
Free mobile app for end-users and tools to track usability

This lineup of resources at very affordable prices will lead to greater value and will tremendously help you to deploy your solution to the IoT world in a short period of time. And you get all these tremendous advantages while still not having to worry about being exhaustively trained to use it or feeling drowned in the great sort of complex resources that you may not need.

[5] Integrating services:

Integration with different types of services is the key for an IoT solution to have competitiveness and to bring to life more and more innovative business opportunities.

With this in mind, by using TagoIO, it is always possible to integrate your IoT solution with every online service that works with RESTful HTTP, MQTT, TCP/IP, UDP, and other protocols as a way to leverage other online systems.

Through integrations using Application Programming Interface (API), your business’s challenges can be properly addressed by selecting the best online systems focused on each task, while making your entire solution work together as one. This ensures each part of your online service ecosystem works on what it does best, making your entire solution reach its best too. Examples of integrations include: payment gateway (Paypal, Stripe), CRM (Zoho, Salesforce, Hubspot), ERP, file repositories (Dropbox), weather forecast, data providers, 3rd party platforms, and any web services.

[6] Getting underway & staying ahead of the game:

Those who adopt it and get a clear ROI, even if minimum, will be able to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering better customer experience, services, and/or products.

IoT solutions, like every technology solution around us today, never stop evolving. Everyday, there is a new resource to integrate, a new analytical method to extract precious pieces of information from data, a new security breach to cover, and so on.  This means that once your IoT solution is deployed, it needs to be improved for as long as it stays on the market.

New technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence,  Fog Computing (computing on the edge devices), Blockchain, and others, will eventually be a source of opportunity for your business. To keep competitive in the market, you need to make sure that you can count on a platform that will enable your strategy to capture value when the time is right to use them.

The new reality is that, in the digital age, companies need to focus on speed and integration in order to succeed. We at TagoIO know the value that our technical and business experts can bring to our customers and partners to help them to understand quickly how IoT can benefit their business.

Jump-start the development of your IoT applications today!

TagoIO offers several tools, tutorials, and opportunities to help you get started:

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