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IoT Ecosystems versus IoT Platforms

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IoT Ecosystems versus IoT Platforms

By Bruce Sinclair

In IoT there are three different types of platforms. You have your AEPs (Application Enablement Platforms) which are used to develop IoT products (/systems/environments). There are connectivity platforms which are used to develop connected products. (See my article, The IoT Product Versus the Smart and Connected Product to see the differences) And then there are provisioning platforms, used to set up SIM cards for cellular-based IoT deployments and (coming soon) LPWA IoT deployments. Platforms are middleware used to connect the systems that make up individual IoT products and they can also be used to connect multiple IoT products. Since network “plumbing” is rarely a strategic core competency, I recommend to all my clients to buy or lease an IoT platform instead of building one themselves.

Whereas the IoT platform is in the realm of the technical, the IoT ecosystem is in the realm of business.

In biology an ecosystem is a community of living organisms called producers, consumers and decomposers, linked together through nutrient and energy flows. My analogy doesn’t include decomposers but the rest works. The IoT ecosystem is a community of vendors and enterprises linked together through data and monetary flows. Pushing the analogy too far? Maybe, but I think you get the picture. Ecosystems bring together vendors and enterprises to monetize IoT products. Ecosystems are often centered around a platform, technology or consortia. And you don’t have to wait to be part of a formal ecosystem – partner with companies that offer other products that when combined with yours, provide a solution closer to the outcome the customer wants.

Over time, all leading IoT companies will be either part of a platform or will be offering the platform and ecosystem for their industry vertical. Just like cyber security and risk management are the yin and yang of IoT tech and business, so too are the platform and ecosystem.

Get the first chapter of Bruce’s book, IoT Inc.

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