Consumer, Enterprise and Industrial IoT Platforms: What’s the Difference?

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Imagine your family is in the market for a new car.  There are a number of things you’ll consider before making the purchase. Every dealer will try to convince you that their product is the best for you and yours.  But one thing’s certain; heading home in a new tow truck would be a poor choice.

What to Consider When Choosing an IoT Platform 

Let’s face it, when choosing an IoT platform the stakes are high. To make things even more challenging, choosing the right IoT platform is just one of the many hurdles innovators face when connecting the IoT dots—commercially and technically—to produce the next breakout IoT solution.  So what’s the right approach when looking at the IoT platform market? How do you effectively narrow down your choices? Where should you invest your research efforts?

Like buying a car, the IoT platform market is confusing, but there are definitely notable characteristics of each platform offering that point to the solutions they best support.

Just as you wouldn’t choose a tow truck as your local commuter, the differences between IoT platforms that address the needs of commercial/enterprise versus industrial versus consumer solutions are meaningful.

How Do You Segment the IoT Platform Market?

From 30,000 feet, the IoT platform market can be segmented into three different offerings—Enterprise, Industrial and Consumer IoT platforms. Although some services overlap, each of these platform segments have unique features that meet specific needs of their target audience.

As with all product marketing efforts, the first question when looking at which IoT platform to use is, “Who is my end customer?” If the answer is that your customer is in heavy industry, chances are you should be looking into Industrial IoT platforms.However, if you’re building a product targeted at consumers, most likely you’ll need a solution that ties disparate brand offerings together and connects to multiple devices in the home - some of which may already exist like Alexa or Google Home.

In each case, it makes sense to narrow your selection process to IoT platforms purpose-built for your end customer.

Defining Requirements for Your Connected Product or Service is Key

Caveat alert! This is just a framework and requirements can overlap. For example, protection from latency challenges is a relevant point of selection across many use cases. Whether you are on your doorstep waiting for the door to unlock (consumer), ensuring a five floor high-rise is secured (commercial) or monitoring the efficacy of critical machinery in a plant (industrial), any discernible wait time for feedback/action is not acceptable. Clearly defined requirements for your connected device provides a critical foundation for your research.

Here are some example use cases that can help scope a selection process for an IoT Platform:

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So What's the Difference Between Industrial, Enterprise and Consumer IoT Platforms?

So what's the difference between platform types? Some examples include, the devices that the platform supports, their approach to user authorization and authentication, data security and compliance, communication protocols, network support, operational cost and data management approach. These are all designed to meet the needs of their particular environment and ultimately their end customer.  

Let’s Look at Device Connectivity and Interoperability As One Example

Industrial and commercial IoT solutions represent large and complex, but typically homogeneous technologies and design. The decision domain is based on a closed set of business challenges and market pressures, mostly within the purview of the current CTO and CIO. Interoperability in this context involves existing, known technologies and decisions made in a top down way in a technology environment under complete control of the company itself. Enterprise and industrial platform providers may take a more custom approach to meet the needs of lighting connectivity in a single commercial building or machine monitoring in a specific plant. Vendor loyalty is based on how well the solution meets the established metric goals of the project. Any disruptors in such an environment more frequently come from outside than within, and rogue technologies simply don’t appear. In sort, it’s a controlled and predictable environment. In contrast, the consumer IoT market is still establishing itself, with customers selecting point solutions to address point problems, often without a well-developed view to their next technology decision. Upstarts and new brands are on rare equal footing in markets where established, conventional thing-manufacturers have played in a non-connected world for years.

Today’s consumers can select from thousands of available connected devices in the market. Users bring their own suite of devices to the table (BYOD) and may upgrade them frequently. Winning consumer loyalty is as often accomplished through brand loyalty as it is through ease-of-use, flexibility and choice. Working alongside other existing or new technologies like voice assistants, established thermostat brands or other devices without conflict are table stakes to participation in the consumer market. The environment is heterogeneous by nature, but with an expectation of seamless, out-of-the-box interoperability.

Each device has its own management platform and standard for authorizing and cloud-connecting for integration and device state/control services. Some are sold by companies who will want to use their own device as the channel to deliver your services, thereby increasing their value at the cost of commoditizing your brand and possibly reducing your visibility to important non-PII performance and use data.

In this environment, it’s not enough to build your device, but to consider the ferociously competitive context within which your device will operate. Interoperability with hundreds of devices such as light bulbs, thermostats, cameras, water leak sensors and consumer appliances - all without impacting the unique differentiation of your product - is the business of Consumer IoT platforms.

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What About Permission Logic and User Authentication Requirements?

In the consumer market, user permissions and the resulting usage of smart home services are very nuanced. Homes may serve as permanent residences, others as temporary rentals and others as a hybrid second home/occasional rentals. Within a single home you may have multiple users with different preferences for music, lighting, heating and security. The capabilities to support these kinds of use cases are important for the success of your solution.

Permission logic for Consumer IoT Platforms should be purpose-built for the the complexities found in the consumer environment.

For industrial solutions, challenges like monitoring, maintaining and connecting thousands of vending machines in the field require less complex user authentication and connectivity models—machine to machine or machine to the cloud. While more complex authentication requirements exist, the processes are frequently standardized and executed based on metrics and performance versus preference and comfort.

Data transfer and bandwidth demands?

The data transfer and bandwidth requirements for commercial or industrial activities will likely be significantly different from the requirements found in the home. Once again in Enterprise and Industrial environments, data management is highly likely to be more controlled and scheduled. It is often based on much wider fields of operation and low or intermittently-powered communication channels.  Mesh is frequently leveraged and cloud-to-cloud interoperability is not typical.

>In the consumer market, data transfer is often controlled by the end consumer, leaving the connected device manufacturer guessing as to how much, when, and how often a person will be accessing the device and when data transfer is required. Since data requirements are often event based, these unknowns have the potential to cause operational setbacks.

Data Privacy and GDPR

Compliance with consumer data protection and privacy policies is effortless when these protections are an ingrained part of company culture and ethos, as opposed to an overlay mandate.

Compliance with GDPR and other privacy policies is a big task for many companies, but less-so for those for which being responsible shepherds of customer data was already a commitment.

Under the GDPR, businesses using personal data should not retain personal data for any longer than necessary. Furthermore, the GDPR gives data subjects rights to require the erasure of their personal data (also known as “the right to be forgotten”). The law requires companies to take reasonable steps to ensure data is kept accurate and up-to-date. Everyone who works for or with any company that must be GDPR-compliant has some responsibility for ensuring data is collected, stored and handled according to GDPR.  Each team that handles personal data must ensure that it is handled and processed in line with this policy and data protection principles. A core requirement for adherence isn’t just a privacy policy and publicly available data protection position, but should also include the tools to ensure compliance, regularly mandated employee training, security audits and dry-run security compliance tests.

The table below presents a set of typical case studies and how each type of platform addresses them:

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After You Decide on the Type of Platform, What’s Next?

Once you decide whether your needs dictate a platform oriented towards Consumer, Enterprise or Industrial solutions, then it’s time to look deeper at your own requirements. What part of the consumer smart home market are you targeting? What devices do you need to connect to and what services are you providing? What is your revenue and margin model, and how can the Consumer IoT platform support your business objectives? With MVP (or more) requirements defined, it’s time to reach out to vendors.

Is Yonomi’s Consumer IoT Platform Suite Right for You?

At Yonomi, our mission is to simplify the smart home for consumers, and to enable and accelerate the building and delivery of rich consumer smart home solutions for B2B2C solution providers. To do this we’ve built a Consumer IoT Platform that we call Yonomi One with the capabilities for user management, routine creation and recommendations, Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistant integration, and connectivity to 100+ mass market consumer devicesas well as devices required for specific vertical industry use cases (think Insurance, Telco, Auto, etc.).

With Yonomi doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes and offering up Smart Home as a Service (SMaaS), you can focus on fast innovation to address your customer needs.

How Gentex Leveraged Yonomi One for Their HomeLink Service

Imagine what amazing products you could create with one simple API that allows you to connect to hundreds of consumer products in the home? What if you had access to a white label application that makes automation and routine creation a no-brainer?

With the platform in place and common functions accounted for, constraints are minimized, years are saved in development, and product innovators are able to deploy working prototypes of their ideas in weeks, not years.

You can think of the Yonomi Platform Suite, which includes Yonomi One and Yonomi Thin Cloud, as the creation engines for the next consumer IoT product or service breakthrough.

With Yonomi, it’s all possible. Bring your ideas to life. Find out how by contacting us, or download our Guide to Building a Connected Device below.


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