If You Want an IoT Solution Done Right, Don’t Do it Yourself

by | Feb 12, 2020

Manufacturers are undergoing a major shift in how they manage their data and assets as they embrace digital transformation. Some manufacturing companies have made efforts to partner with IoT solution providers while others have pivoted to become a digital powerhouse themselves.

The primitive goal of the IoT product developers is to establish their in-house IoT department to cut down the costs for outsourcing resources and also to customize their infrastructure for their product requirements. However, that’s a goal post. But in reality, there are a lot more pragmatic challenges that pop up when we are trying to hit the goal. In this context, PTC’s Chief Technology Officer, Joe Biron, elaborates the challenges he and his company had faced when they tried the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach with their IoT platform development.


It Significantly Costs More to Develop the Platform Yourself

The upfront costs of utilizing a third-party platform may have its flaws, but the overall expenses incurred in developing your own solution are quite high. Costs can be almost 4x greater when building your platform due to continuous investments in security, scalability, and development of features.


Time is Money, and Money is Flying to your Competitors

According to IoT Analytics, there are about 127 new IoT devices getting connected to the internet every second and it takes about 2.5 years to develop a platform internally. Companies that try to take the high road to develop their solution in-house will become painfully aware of their competitors’ gain while they’re busy building their platforms. Though two and half years is a fairly quick duration for a custom, complex platform - it’s still pushing the clock to catch up with the other companies that have already integrated the tech into their systems.


You’re Going to Need an A-Team

Industrial companies are already under pressure to bridge the major skill gaps among front-line workers. Additionally, engineers who can craft an advanced digital solution such as an IoT platform are in short supply. If you’re a factory recruiter, you have your work cut out for you.


Your Platform Might not Make it to Production

Biron ends his analysis by emphasizing that companies cannot solely take up the stand on developing their in-house IoT platform, because it might not help to achieve their goal on time. Rather they need to make the pact with other IoT product development firms and prioritize their resources towards developing things that they are good at.

Why should you use an IoT Marketplace rather than doing it by yourself (DIY)?

Let us explore key differences between choosing a well-defined IoT platform service and the DIY method of developing IoT technologies.

  Ease of implementation is a major advantage when you adopt the already established IoT platform services. For example, functions like connectivity, configuration, deployment and accessibility can be easily achieved in the IoT platform. This fast tracks the timeline to realize the intended return on investment.

  But the DIY approach involves lots of practical challenges and also the probability of achieving the standard level of efficiency is low or might take longer which defeats the purpose of digital transformation. The realistic challenges could be:-


Cloud Infrastructure:

  Choosing the server-side applications like AWS/Azure for IoT network deployment and configuring the cloud infrastructure for IoT software and hardware development environment. Designing, developing and deploying secured network protocols and APIs like HTTP our MQTT API. Fixing and debugging any errors in the IoT network operations in APIs, alerting system, and device interfaces.


Data Storage and Processing:

Deploying Data storage databases and facilities that enable storing time-series data. Deploying charting library functions for data processing and manipulation.


Security Systems:

Deploying a secured message queuing protocol for sending device alerts. Ensuring a secured interface for remote device management. Enabling API or SDK for third party integrations.


User Interface and Compatibility:

Development of interactive user interfaces and choosing the right front end framework. Checking for compatibility across various browser functions. Launching the product in the market in various versions like alpha, beta and industry-ready version.


Pragmatic Factors involved while opting for the DIY method for IoT implementation

  • Time-To-Market:
  TTM refers to the time taken to develop a fully functional IoT product that can be released into the market or deployed in your facility for efficiency gains. Choosing an IoT platform with a proven track record would greatly reduce the time to market.
  • Cost versus Opportunities:
  An existing IoT platform would help in quickly developing fully functional IoT systems with all the developmental resources in hand with reduced cost and TTM. Moreover, the IoT platform facilitates a lot more hidden benefits like yielding higher RoI, focus on building smarter solutions and also help in achieving maximum efficiency in the IoT project deployments.
  • Total Cost of Ownership:
  The total cost of ownership refers to the financial estimation that helps in determining the cost of the product to its benefits in the business. We can briefly denote it by the concept of Return on Investment (ROI). It denotes the long-term value of the purchase made by the company for its business profits.
  • Updates and Enhancements
  In this case of enhancing or updating the IoT platform features by utilizing the resources from the outsourcing partner, the device, software and security changes can be availed for regular system updates at comparatively lower expenses. But in DIY IoT, every time the company has to invest a lot of time, money and resources to maintain the standards and functions of the IoT system.

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