Five questions to ask when choosing an IoT provider for your business

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic. Hardly a day goes by without someone sharing their view on the trend. As new enterprise IoT solutions surge into the market, established providers are busy recasting their businesses as “IoT ready.” And because there are so many roles to play in IoT, any company that has a device, data or software story has an opinion. And each opinion, along with every marketing campaign, creates confusion about what IoT is, and which providers can help you realize its value.

The important thing to remember is that each company approaches IoT differently depending on where they sit in the ecosystem. Though their approaches may be valid, they may also be one dimensional, and lack important features and capabilities a business will need. For example, an original equipment manufacturer might be great at building devices and a device cloud, but lack capabilities in cloud services and data analysis. Or a software company may provide a rich set of development services and hooks to data and telemetry, but fall short on important device-management capabilities. Still more providers may claim to offer a great cloud solution, but lack the ability to truly scale.

Maybe you already understand the potential of IoT. Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – unsure of how IoT can benefit your business, or without a clear idea of how to build a solution. Regardless of your situation, you need information to be able to sort through the noise and make informed decisions about IoT.

Before we jump into specific questions you and your team can use to assess an IoT solution, let’s look at how we got here. The Internet of Things is part of a larger story about connected infrastructure and big data that’s been revitalized by the low cost of devices, connectivity and the cloud. At Microsoft, we have a lot of experience helping businesses figure out how to get the most value from technology — and that includes IoT, because Microsoft has been providing IoT services for over two decades. Our capabilities extend across the stack from devices, operating systems and software, to a world-class cloud and data platform. And when combined with our experience working with enterprise customers around the world and in dozens of industries, it easy to see how we are in a unique position to help companies realize the full potential from IoT.

Regardless of your situation, we want to help you make sure that the IoT solution provider you chose is the right fit for your business — both now, and in the future. Before you decide on a solution provider, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does the provider have a comprehensive IoT offering? Does it even provide all the tools and services needed to create an IoT solution?
  2. Does it have the necessary experience, specifically related to IoT? Even if it has all of the important components for IoT, does it have a history of using them to create capable solutions at the enterprise level?
  3. Can it scale? As your business grows or as your needs change, can the solution change accordingly? Does adding new features mean reworking the rest of the solution?
  4. Is it open? More than open source, can you use the technology you already have, and the devices and tools you want to use? Or does it lock you in with proprietary technology?
  5. Finally, does it accelerate your time to market? Even if it can deliver a capable solution, can it do it in a way that helps you quickly realize value?

In the coming days, I’ll look at each of these five questions in more detail to help you find the solution that is right for you. In the meantime, you can read more about Microsoft’s unique vision for enterprise IoT.