Exploring IoT Solutions: Beyond Technical Specifications in the Build vs. Buy Discussion

Kevin Niemiller
Kevin Niemiller | 4 minute read

As you start any IoT initiative, the inevitable choice between building your own platform or purchasing one comes up, with discussions typically centering on technical specifications. While these specifications lay the groundwork, it is also essential to consider the competitive and strategic benefits. The right IoT platform can serve as a technical backbone and a catalyst for immediate and long-term success. Let's shift our perspective to the often overlooked yet vital competitive advantages of leveraging an IoT platform (built or bought) that goes beyond just technical features.

Imagine a scenario where a single developer, not an entire team, can roll out a comprehensive, multi-tenant IoT solution within weeks, not months. To achieve this, a flexible, easy-to-use platform must be used to empower people close to the product, such as product owners and developers, to implement new features and know the true cost to maintain the solution with no surprise costs or fees due to new devices or features.

Questions while deciding between self-built or purchased IoT platforms and solutions

For those considering or already using a self-built or bought platform, a series of considerations must be made and continually reevaluated:

  • Transparent Costs: Is your overall monthly costs (encompassing infrastructure, developing solutions, messages, data, etc.) transparent and predictable? Have unforeseen costs become an unpleasant routine?
  • Customization Challenge: To what extent can you tailor the backend and front end of your solution? Does the inflexibility of your current platform limit the features you can provide to your customers?
  • Autonomy in Solution Innovation: Is adding new features within your grasp, or are you forced to rely on internal IT teams or the platform’s development team? Maybe you choose to use these teams by choice due to the platform being too complex to enable you or your team to do it themselves.
  • Toolset and Accessibility: Does your platform offer tools built around ease of use and speed to value, enabling a diverse skill set to efficiently develop solutions?
  • Support Structure: What does support look like? Are you facing support costs, delayed responses, or unsatisfactory resolutions? Do they allow for all types of questions, from how-to-use features of the platform to the best way of achieving a required feature or help with architecting the overall solution?
  • Feedback-Driven Innovation: Does your platform evolve based on your feedback, genuinely innovating in your interest?
  • Go-to-Market Strategy:  How is your go-to-market strategy impacted by the decision to build vs. buy.  How important is it to get to a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) quickly.

The Dichotomy of Build vs. Buy

The traditional options typically present two paths: build or buy. However, both often fall short.

Build: While offering maximum flexibility, the build route is flawed by long development cycles that oftentimes stretch beyond a year, unpredictable costs, and the continuous need for IT alignment for updates.

Buy: The quicker route promises speed but sacrifices flexibility, eventually hindering innovation due to its inherent constraints.

A Third and Better Way: Buy and Implement

Typically building or buying does not provide the ideal solution and instead a hybrid solution between the two must be taken—buying a platform for its already configured scalable infrastructure, then using that infrastructure as a foundation to build a customized solution that perfectly aligns with the original vision.

  • Speed to Market: Buying a platform means no delay in developing the solution, with the added value of circumventing the need for a dedicated devops team and years in developing and maintaining the infrastructure.
  • Control and Flexibility: Implementing your solution on this foundation with a flexible platform ensures you retain complete control over the customer-facing user interface without being backed into any corners, enabling the exact product you envisioned that will provide the most value to your customer.
  • Low-Code and Accessibility: A platform that offers a low-code environment encourages a seamless transition from concept to creation, welcoming contributors across diverse skill levels to build features and maintain the solution.
  • Support and Innovation: Look for a platform that offers not just technical support but a partnership, providing insightful answers, fostering a feedback-centric development cycle, and maintaining a repository of knowledge through thorough documentation and engaging community forums.

In IoT, the decision isn't only between building from scratch or buying off the shelf. It's about choosing a platform that accelerates your vision while ensuring that the solution remains unequivocally yours—flexible, scalable, and reflective of your vision. Technical capabilities are critical when looking for a platform, but ensure you evaluate the competitive and strategic advantages of building your solution with an already built flexible platform.

About Losant

Losant is an Enterprise IoT Platform that is offered as a SaaS model or as a fully managed platform deployed in your own private cloud or on-premises. It is designed to offer a resilient and scalable infrastructure as well as a toolset focused on ease of use and speed to value. These tools, which provide the flexibility to build a custom solution, include a low-code workflow engine, straightforward digital twin configuration, an intuitive dashboard builder, and the ability to build customer facing user interfaces. Choose a platform that not only aligns with your vision but enhances it—providing the agility, efficiency, and competitive edge you need, along with an outstanding customer success team to help you along the way.

To get a more in-depth overview of the Losant platform, please contact us to schedule a conversation with one of our team members.