Finding the Perfect Match: Compatibility in the IoT

Finding the Perfect Match Compatibility in the IoT

More and more companies have made the Internet of Things a strategic priority, assigning dedicated resources and budgets to create IoT solutions that support new business models and value-added services. However, without the right tools and technologies at hand, this process can eat up more resources than initially planned, extend timelines, and diminish the project’s return on investment.

This is the fourth installment in a series of six, focusing on different approaches that will make the development of IoT solutions more efficient. In my previous installment, I explained why an IoT solution’s ability to integrate and interoperate with existing and new technology will ultimately define its value and usefulness.

The requirements and scope of an IoT solution continually evolve as organizations start to integrate IoT into their business. New hardware or software might need to be added, existing business systems replaced or processes changed. IoT platforms are specifically designed to meet these volatile requirements. But even with the most flexible and versatile platform, you want to make sure your platform has a large inventory of pre-certified hardware and software components.

Let’s use again the example of a car manufacturer that wants to develop an IoT solution to optimize their manufacturing process. While the manufacturer will have to deal with integrations of legacy technologies, such as the organization’s ERP system or 3rd party systems used by partners and customers, they will also be required to integrate new technologies. In order to get real-time insights into product availability, capacities and logistics processes, the manufacturer might have to implement new software, such as a predictive analytics tool, or retrofit existing equipment with sensors, controllers, asset trackers or other devices to make them IoT-enabled.

Aside from picking an IoT platform that meets your requirements, another important decision you’ll have to make is which technology to integrate into your IoT solution.

Cost and functionality of the technology will most likely be deciding factors that come to mind immediately. However, other factors that should be taken into consideration as well are whether the technology has been tested and proven to interoperate with the IoT platform you are using and how easily the technology can be integrated. Two sensors that seem to be similar at first, may vary entirely in the communication channels or data-encoding methods and protocols they use. Any purchase decision should therefore include the following considerations:

  • Check if reports or success stories from other users that have successfully integrated the technology into the same IoT platform are available. The platform provider might even provide information on compatible and tested technology. This way you can avoid purchasing a technology that doesn’t function properly with the platform, which could potentially require an additional investment in a better matching technology.
  • Will you have to develop the integration of the technology yourself or are there pre-built software components that allow for a quick and easy integration of the device into your IoT solution? Are there user guides available that provide guidance on how to set up the device with your IoT platform? Being able to draw from existing software components instead of developing relevant integration internally will save your organization valuable time – time that can be used to focus on creating innovative and unique features.

Ensuring that the technologies you are planning on using have been tested to work with your IoT platform, will enable your projects to be up and running in less time, while making the most of your IoT budget.

In this ever growing market of IoT-enabled technologies, it becomes more and more difficult to identify the best match for your business. What tools you can use to guide you through this process will be the focus of my next installment.

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