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The journey from conceptualizing to implementing any Internet of Things (IoT) project is an arduous one. Even though many companies start out thinking that developing an IoT solution is a onetime affair, it is rarely so. As the technology landscape evolves, existing solutions continually call for the need to evolve and upgrade with the changing times.

Hence, choosing the right development partner in this continuous journey right from the beginning is critical in terms of ensuring agility of processes, the efficiency of resources and ending up with successful project outcomes.

Given this reality, it’s pertinent to ask the right questions to choose the most appropriate IoT partner for your project. On that note, here are 5 questions to help you make a good decision –

Do they have the requisite knowledge and experience to do “your” job?

When investing in building an IoT solution, you’ll ideally want to trust someone only with the desired experience and expertise, specifically related to your own specific requirements.

While assessing any service provider, you should find out if they have a portfolio that reflects a history of creating capable solutions at the enterprise level. If they have worked in your industry segment it can be a big plus for you. Even if they haven’t, as a single company may not have experience in all industry verticals, you can examine their approach, for that might mean a lot in terms of demonstrating their capabilities.

It’s also relevant for you to check how proficient they are in terms of both hardware engineering and software development, as any IoT solution essentially covers both these aspects. Knowledge of software development is important, but the ability to tackle the hardware engineering aspect cannot be ignored. Good knowledge and experience in both are critical in terms of influencing outcomes positively.

Ideally, it’s best if you choose a provider that is experienced and provides a one-stop solution, across all your needs. Such a choice would imply efficiency, both in terms of execution and costs over the long term.

How flexible are they?

In addition to the technology fit, it’s very important to look out for flexibility in your IoT partner. You must attempt to find out how much the provider is willing to align their solution with your legacy architecture and whether they’re agile at implementing.

Ideally, you should try to look out for one that is willing to use the technology you already have, and the devices and tools you prefer. It also makes sense to check if they agree to provide a customized or personalized solution in sync with the other aspects of your company’s infrastructure.

Another filter you can apply here is to check whether they lock you in with proprietary technology. It’s only intuitive to avoid such providers from a future point of view.

Do they have the ability to scale up as your needs evolve?

As your solution propagates in the market, which is under constant evolution, your solution will naturally need to upgrade over time.

The right IoT partner will be the one that demonstrates the ability to scale up and help you manage changes seamlessly. You might need to add new features or devices, and this must not imply reorganizing your entire solution.  Completely discarding your existing solution or turning to multiple third parties at a later point will only throw in unnecessary inefficiencies, delays, and unexpected cost escalations. Hence, it’s necessary to engage with an IoT partner that is capable of scaling up as your solution evolves.

Moreover, you also need to be sure of their ability to work and manage your projects remotely.

Are they trustworthy in terms of ensuring data security?

Given the dynamic nature of the IoT environment, robust data security can be easily regarded as a non-negotiable requirement. The environment must be controlled, protected and have robust security mechanisms.

Hence, you need to ensure that you only shortlist the provider who knows how to address and incorporate encryption of data, protection of your device and security mechanisms for device and cloud storage.

The fact is that the end-to-end process of developing any IoT solution is multilayered. It covers the technology stack, devices, data collection, storage, and transmission, connectivity, cloud services, and much more. Any partner you pick needs to demonstrate thoroughness in this entire process and its components to avoid possibilities of data security breaches. You should also review their security audit process and tools.

What is their cost structure like?

All said and done, usually budget is the final deal maker or breaker when it comes to arriving at a decision. Taking the last call on the basis of a blended, ballpark cost estimate without a detailed breakup is incomplete information to make a budget based decision.

It’s only intuitive for you to ask for a detailed quote. This will ensure that you have an apple-to-apple comparison between the different service providers. Also, the budget can never be the only decision point. You should be prepared to pay a premium to get a reliable and robust solution provider. This can save you significant headaches at a later date.

With these considerations in place, you’re likely to pick a service provider that does justice to your project, time and resources.

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Nitin Tappe

After successful stint in a corporate role, Nitin is back to what he enjoys most – conceptualizing new software solutions to solve business problems. Nitin is a postgraduate from IIT, Mumbai, India and in his 24 years of career, has played key roles in building a desktop as well as enterprise solutions right from idealization to launch which are adopted by many Fortune 500 companies. As a Founder member of Pratiti Technologies, he is committed to applying his management learning as well as the passion for building new solutions to realize your innovation with certainty.

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