IoT Business Decision: Build vs Buy IoT Platform

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One of the biggest decisions facing consumer products companies undertaking development of connected products is whether to build their own IoT cloud or to adopt a commercially available IoT platform. Here are some thoughts to consider.

Build vs Buy IoT Platform

More building blocks are available than ever before—from Amazon Web Services, IBM Watson IoT, Microsoft Azure, and others—enabling companies who have the understanding and expertise to assemble their own cloud-based IoT infrastructure. And, the websites of some building block companies make it sound like they offer an end-to-end connected product solution, but that is only true if you engage their professional services to build your own IoT platform on top of their building blocks. Be sure you know the full cost and time-to-market before making any build vs. buy decision.

MAKE BUILD VS. BUY DECISIONS IMPARTIALLY – REMEMBER, BUILDERS WANT TO BUILD.

While the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) model is tempting—especially to those from the engineering side of the organization—we regularly hear from early adopters who chose to build and operate their own IoT programs that they underestimated the complexity and challenges of following a DIY track.

We have a number of current customers who tried to do it themselves but ended-up coming to Arrayent. The problems they specifically cited were: 1) how expensive it was, 2) how difficult it was to keep the service running 24/7/365, and 3) how arduous it was to keep up with the market demand for new features.

It’s one thing to build a demo and run a limited trial of connected products. It’s quite another to launch, scale and support hundreds of thousands of connected devices—especially if doing so on multiple continents with all the localalization and regulatory compliance required.

When a company releases their first version connected product into production, it is a big accomplishment and many development teams think, “We did it!” But a much bigger challenges awaits those companies who support a multitude of connected products in a constantly changing IoT landscape. What product manufacturer wants to handle security patches, privacy regulations across multiple jurisdictions, and support for 100% uptime across millions of connected devices?

WHY SPEND MILLIONS TO BUILD WHEN BUYING CAN BE ONE-TENTH THE COST? 

For most consumer products companies, building their own IoT cloud is akin to building their own Salesforce CRM or email system from scratch. In this day and age, no one would do that. Why would they? To do so would be to enter into the software business in addition to their established consumer products business. It’s extremely easy to underestimate the complexity of running the software required to provision, manage and support connected products. Even with a set of building blocks technologies to start with, to be successful, companies will need a world-class technology team to manage and support all of the complex needs of the solution.

However, world-class software and development operations expertise is rarely found in most consumer products companies. Think about it, why would the best of the best in software work at a hardware company? But when companies do start hiring software team members, they should expect highly experienced software architects and engineers to cost $200,000 per year or more. Multiply that by at least two at that level as a starting point and you’ll start to see why it makes sense to look at commercially available consumer IoT platforms like Arrayent. Most importantly, companies should ask themselves whether their businesses can really afford not to be guided by a team of experts who have spent years building, learning, and optimizing their platform.

THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCE: 17 BRANDS, 65+ PRODUCTS, 5 CONTINENTS

Arrayent is an IoT platform company that has over ten years of experience and is exclusively focused on serving branded consumer product companies—not smart cities, not smart grid, nor factory floor or industrial automation. As of the writing of this post, we have helped over 12 brands launch more than 65 products on 5 continents. These are proven deployments with all of those products being available on the retail shelf or salesfloor. Most projects took around six months from project start to product-on-shelf. To be sure there were lessons learned from mistakes made. But this is all the more reason to not follow the do-it-yourself track, benefit from mistakes paid for by others like us.

Arrayent can provide the program management, best practices, economies of scale, fast time-to-market and ongoing technology advantages that it would take many years and millions of dollars for a company to achieve themselves. And, by having confidence in their IoT infrastructure, companies can spend more of their precious resources on designing differentiating value and competitive advantages within their products. We even provide a workshop for executives to drive transformation within their own organizations to fuel success with their connected products. To learn just how cost effective, and how fast to market, a program with Arrayent can be, contact us to find out more.

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