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IDC this week released a report “IDC Marketscape: Worldwide IoT Platforms (Device and Network Connectivity Providers) 2018 Vendor Assessment” analyzing Internet of Things (IoT) vendors that provide cellular connectivity management and device management so organizations can monitor, manage, and secure IoT devices.

This report complements an earlier IDC report that established another set of IoT platform vendors — application enablement platforms that offer functionality required to connect, manage, and visualize IoT devices and data.

IDC, in both the above-mentioned reports and a previously published taxonomy, defined what an IoT software platform is. “An IoT platform is a commercial software product that offers some combination of the following capabilities: management of IoT endpoints and connectivity; access, ingestion, and processing of IoT data; visualization and analysis of IoT data; and IoT application development and integration tools.”

Stacy Crook, the research director of IDC’s IoT Ecosystem and Trends practice, said they did this as a two part series and segmented the IoT market this way due to the growing number of platforms “There’s not exactly a black and white difference between the platforms covered in half of the market scape,” she said.

Crook elaborated that some of the connectivity platforms have added application enablement capabilities over time.

The connectivity companies evaluated were AT&T, Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, Orange Business Services, Particle, Sierra Wireless, Telefonica, Telit, Verizon, and Vodafone. For these companies, Crook said that connectivity is the heritage the companies come from, and they are leveraging IoT to go beyond core connectivity.

IDC has defined several relevant types of connectivity for IoT: wired (Ethernet); cellular; LTE-WAN or low-power wide area network, which includes Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) or LTE-M; long range (LoRa), or low powered technologies’ wireless-WAN, which provides short range connectivity; and satellite.

The report and research determined characteristics of IoT platforms that buyers should consider before purchasing. These include the type of connectivity required for a use case, geographic requirements and coverage, data plan costs for connectivity, the types of devices being supported, the types of data being gathered, processed, and analyzed, and API access to the platform’s capabilities.

“One of the things that sort of came out in terms of appropriateness in grouping these companies is they are looking at similar use cases because they all start from cellular connect,” said Crook. “They are looking at use cases where the network is wide area. Where the other marketscape might be more interested in cases where cellular connectivity isn’t needed.”

In the previous report the application enablement platform vendors analyzed were Amazon Web Services (AWS), Ayla Networks, Bosch Software Innovations, Fujitsu, GE Digital, HPE, IBM, LogMeIn, Microsoft, Oracle, PTC, and SAP.

This report found that these platforms and vendors offered a number of attributes to customers, including the product’s functionality, protocol and device support, integration capabilities, edge support, and transparent pricing.

Whereas the connectivity platforms originated from a cellular approach, the application enablement platforms are more cloud-focused and data analytics-based IoT platforms.

According to an IDC survey done in part with the taxonomy, both segments will have to overcome a number of challenges facing IoT deployments. These include security and privacy issues, the cost, the stability and complexity of the technology, how the existing infrastructure will support IoT, and return on investment.

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