IoT platform: Build or buy?

Joe Barkai, author of, The Outcome Economy and the
Internet of Things

Heard recently on the web: Should you build your own Internet of Things (IoT) or buy it?

As you might expect, the question (and the answer), sponsored by an IoT platform vendor, were self-serving.

Earlier today, I received a note about a research that maintains that more than a 100 new IoT “platforms” have entered the marketplace in the past 12 months alone, fueling fast growth that will exceed $1.5 billion by 2021.

Which makes no sense whatsoever.

If you ask this build-vs-buy question, and, even more so, if you venture to answer it, you may be looking at the Internet of Things the wrong way. Asking this question indicates that you focus on connecting sensors and device to the Internet instead of on the business value of the IoT, which is realised at the opposite end of the technology stack: Not at the sensors level, but at the level where data is aggregated and analysed, and is used to drive business decisions, says Joe Barkai, author of, The Outcome Economy and the Internet of Things

IoT as an ecosystem

The powerful concept behind IoT-centric business solutions is that connectivity enables the aggregation of multiple information sources to create a broader and richer context to support decision optimisation. It is the foundation of new operating models and novel business engagement paradigms. An example I often use to demonstrate this idea is of connected vineyards, which I describe in greater detail in my book The Outcome Economy: How the Industrial Internet of Things is Transforming Every Business. I like this example because it’s a bit different and does not have the cachet of those impressive but hard to reach “power by the hour” use case examples, yet epitomises the spirit of the IoT. Here is a quick recap:

A network of wireless sensors provides a continuous stream of information about the conditions in a vineyard, such as soil and ambient humidity and temperature. At the back end, this information is combined with public weather forecast to create an optimal irrigation schedule that minimises water evaporation. But that’s not all.

The local conditions at the vineyard and long-term weather data are joined with a university database of pests and diseases and regional observations of pest and diseases. This data aggregation and predictive algorithms are used to prescribe an optimal preventative spraying regimen that is highly effective yet reduces damage to the environment.

What is an “IoT platform”?

An IoT “platform” isn’t simply a software architecture. A platform-centered strategy creates an environment, a “place,” and, yes, there’s also some software, for ecosystem participants to collaborate in order to deliver a business solution. A platform defines not only how IoT devices and software modules are stitched together, but, as importantly, it facilitates the relationships and process governance among participants: business process orchestration, workflow and coordination, data exchange, and so forth.

Of course, you still need to establish connectivity with the devices and data repositories that provide these information streams. However, device connectivity and wireless communication are being standardised and commoditised at a fast pace.

Practically all modern products are Internet enabled; companies can choose from a range of wireless carriers, MVNOs and cloud providers; and device integration will only get easier over time, diminishing the ability of those platform providers that focus on connectivity to demonstrate competitive functional differentiation. Those will find themselves compete on price bundling.

So, should you build your IoT solution or buy it?

An IoT-based business solution must orchestrate multiple information producers and consumers. It should synthesize data not only from multiple IoT “things,” but also from other inter- and intra-enterprise business data repositories that are typically managed by the organisation’s ERP, PLM and CRM systems. Furthermore, in the hardware-centric discussion of IoT platforms, many neglect to consider the business-critical information generated by “human sensors” in social media and web discussion groups.

Therefore, the question should be not whether your preferred IoT platform can connect a sensor to the cloud. The question should be: does the platform provide a foundation to create a flexible and scalable ecosystem of information producers and consumers and the appropriate data aggregation, analytics and decision support.

This article was first published on Joe Barkai’s website: (http://joebarkai.com/iot-build-or-buy/).

This blog is written by Joe Barkai, author of, The Outcome Economy and the Internet of Things

About the Author:

Joe Barkai is a consultant, speaker, author and blogger, charting market strategies for a connected world: Internet of Things, connected cars, innovation and product lifecycle. Joe has more than 30 years of experience in helping organisations chart their product and market strategy. His background at the union of business and technology with hundreds of organisations across diverse industries, provides a unique ability to ‘connect the dots’ and clearly articulate the always-evolving business value of technology.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow

RECENT ARTICLES

Siemens closes Brightly acquisition, elevating software offering for building operations

Posted on: August 5, 2022

Siemens Smart Infrastructure (SI) has completed the acquisition of Brightly Software, a U.S.-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider of asset and maintenance management solutions. The acquisition elevates SI to a position in the software market for buildings and built infrastructure. It adds Brightly’s well-established cloud-based capabilities across key sectors – education, public infrastructure, healthcare, and manufacturing –

Read more

Visteon technology enriches the quality of automotive display graphics

Posted on: August 5, 2022

Van Buren Charter Township, United States. 03 August, 2022 – Visteon Corporation, a global technology company serving the mobility industry, has developed an integrated system that dynamically improves the vehicle display contrast ratio. The company’s solution uses proprietary advanced algorithms to control the full array local dimming display. A matrixed array of LEDs behind the

Read more
FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more
IoT Newsletter

Join the IoT Now online community for FREE, to receive: Exclusive offers for entry to all the IoT events that matter, round the world

Free access to a huge selection of the latest IoT analyst reports and industry whitepapers

The latest IoT news, as it breaks, to your inbox