First things first: does your provider have a comprehensive IoT offering?

It can be difficult at best to sift through the dizzying volume of options available for creating an Internet of Things (IoT) solution for your business. This week, I’m delving into five questions we’ve developed to help businesses drill down to what really matters when choosing a provider to bet on for IoT. We’ll begin with a couple of things to consider when sizing up a provider’s depth and breadth of experience.

Question #1: Does the provider have a comprehensive IoT offering?

Often, the first challenge in deploying an IoT solution is connecting the devices. It’s easy to find someone who can do this, and it would seem to follow logically that this same vendor would be the best choice for your entire solution. But enterprise-grade IoT solutions require a comprehensive approach to devices, software, services, analytics and cloud capabilities that can hold up for the long term, and meet the demands of business — not just a service that links your assets.

The provider’s “things” must include more than consumer devices, and the provider must be able to connect them, manage them and extract data from them. Once data is extracted, the software, services and analytics applied must be capable enough to turn that data into meaningful insight. The cloud platform must be extensible and powerful enough to handle massive amounts of data and devices, and not limit growth. It is also important that these offerings are proven in meeting the demands of the enterprise. Does the provider have relevant, deep industry knowledge? Does it offer solutions that meet or exceed the regulatory requirements specific to your industry?

Some providers offer capabilities from third parties and piece together a solution to get into the IoT space. For the best providers, however, IoT capabilities are core to their business. They have a history of offering solutions across devices, software, services, analytics and cloud. What sets the most capable providers apart in IoT is that their tools, services and solutions are designed to work together. Solutions that are entirely custom-built can’t deliver the same value or integrate as quickly.

Last month week, we announced Microsoft Azure IoT Suite, developed specifically with preconfigured solutions and intuitive dashboards and visualizations to help our customers more easily deploy IoT. Azure IoT Suite also supports a broad variety of devices and systems—all with the goal to provide enterprises an easy and seamless way to connect people, devices and assets that help them realize the opportunities of IoT without massive investments in infrastructure that would slow time to value. We also offer businesses a personalized, accelerated introduction to IoT via our “Quick Start” half-day sessions, led by our trusted partners and Microsoft Consulting.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the specific experience your IoT provider should have under their belt before you trust them with your critical business solutions.