The top IoT software platforms for 2016

A new report from Forrester has identified and compared the top 11 IoT software platform providers for this quarter.

According to the report, IBM, PTC, GE and Microsoft lead the pack, while  AWS, SAP and Cisco Jasper offer competitive options, and LogMeIn, Ayla Networks, Exosite and Zebra Technologies lag behind.

Forrester evaluated vendors based on 25 points of criteria, which were divided into three “high-level buckets”:

Current offering: Vendors’ current offerings were evaluated according to the functional categories of connect, manage, secure and analyse.

Forrester looked at the breadth of protocol support and cloud integration, the strength of the management console for managing virtual devices using a rules-based engine, support for developers through SDKs and prebuilt applications, and the platform’s identity and access management functions. Forrester also examined each platform’s capacity for analytics, including advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, augmented reality, and edge analytics.

Strategy: Forrester assessed each vendor’s strategic positioning as a factor of several evaluation criteria, including planned enhancements, geographic reach and the robustness of its partner ecosystems.

Market presence: This category indicates the relative ranking of the vendors in the areas of customer installation, geographic client distribution and dedicated employee resources.

Why IBM, PTC, GE and Microsoft top the list

IBM: “The Watson IoT Platform can serve a broad range of advanced IoT use cases. The tech giant doubled down on IoT in 2015 with an investment of $3 billion dollars to create a new IoT business unit. The new org includes more than 1000 researchers, developers and designers dedicated specifically to developing the Watson IoT Platform.

“Since then, IBM has added significant capabilities to the platform, including augmented reality, cognitive capabilities, blockchain, edge analytics, analytics tooling and natural language processing, to name a few. With a strong commitment to open source standards and a robust global partner ecosystem, IBM is well positioned for market leadership. However, according to some customers, Watson is not well integrated with analytics engines, and IBM’s product portfolio terminology is confusing and hard to decipher.”

PTC: “PTC has invested $1 billion in IoT offerings since its acquisition of the ThingWorx platform in 2013. The company’s broad protocol support for both short-range and wireless connectivity options, strong digital twin functionality, and a multitude of prepackaged applications that include asset management, alert management, product relationship management, and workflow management place PTC in the top tier of vendors for this evaluation.

“The company also boasts the strongest augmented reality capabilities in this evaluation, due in part to its acquisition of Vuforia in 2015. Despite these advanced capabilities however, some references reported a shortage of technical expertise within PTC’s professional services division in addition to a lack of communication and clarity regarding newly released features.”

GE: “The vendor offers its Predix platform primarily for IoT applications. GE has been using its Predix platform to support its own native offering before making it available to others to build upon. Predix enables remote monitoring and advanced predictive and edge analytics and features this evaluation’s most advanced digital twin capability, which allows customers to design and test new capabilities of connected high-value assets like wind turbines and airplane engines using a high-fidelity digital model of the asset.

“Numerous customer references cited GE’s intense focus and history in the industrial market as a key differentiator over its competition. This evaluation did uncover some areas to improve, such as developing more packaged, end-to-end solutions for IoT use cases beyond asset performance management.”

Microsoft: “The Azure IoT Suite integrates an array of specialised tools and analytics services to support IoT platform functions. The offering includes preconfigured solutions for predictive maintenance and remote monitoring to help customers implement IoT solutions efficiently. These preconfigured solutions use Azure services such as IoT Hub for device connections, authentication and monitoring and use Notification Hubs, Machine Learning, and Stream Analytics to capture insight from connected assets.