What to consider when procuring a device management platform

System integration, back-end analytics, communications infrastructure and security are all factors to take into account before purchasing a device management platform.

The Internet of Things presents multiple opportunities for manufacturers looking to create more intelligent factories, but their system administrators require solutions that allow them to monitor and access devices from centralized locations. 

Who will build it? Why is it necessary? 

Tech companies across the board are answering the call for customizable, flexible, scalable device management platforms, but it's unclear as to which one will offer production companies that "must-have" solution. Basically, no one knows which enterprise will develop the Internet of Things' equivalent to the desktop's Windows OS. 

This speculation and uncertainty doesn't mean tech firms are suffering from a lack of funding, according to KidoZen CEO and VentureBeat contributor Jesus Rodriguez. He maintained that the explosion of connected devices, as well as the industrial applications of those small machines, will necessitate platforms that abide by industry standards. What those standards will consist of, however, remains to be seen. 

Communication requirements 

When procuring a device management platform, ensuring it has a robust communication standard is a must. A data packet delivered to the wrong sensor will disrupt factory operations. The severity of these interruptions depends on the information transported, as well as the type of devices that are communicating. 

Rodriguez acknowledged the MQTT communications protocol, which behaves as an "extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport," as quoted by MQTT.org. The standard is designed to establish long-distance connections across devices via satellites, dial-up and conventional networks. It is characterized by requiring a low amount of power, and is favored for its ability to use as little as network bandwidth as possible. 

Using a platform that abides by MQTT is advisable, as this protocol isn't resource-heavy and will not require device users to install more resources into existing infrastructures. 

The need for real-time analytics 

One of the perceived advantages of connecting factory machinery to an internal network is the ability to conduct predicative maintenance. However, the only way a program can deduce whether a piece of equipment is on the brink of malfunctioning is through collecting the data produced by the sensor attached to that machine. If raw information is all that's being funneled into the system, then the platform can't deduce the status of the asset. 

In addition to predicative maintenance, real-time analytics also provides managers with a comprehensive view of how existing operations can be adjusted to align with business objectives. Any factory administrator would tell you his or her team is constantly looking for ways to boost efficiency, an initiative data analysis software could certainly support. However, do a factory manager and his or her colleagues have what it takes to strategically transform operations and make a profound impact on the bottom line? 

Enterprise application compatibility 

Device management platform integration is an essential capability of the technology that should not be overlooked. One of the reasons why manufacturers implement sensor-driven processes is to provide a more thorough level of insight into the resources they have at their disposal.

For instance, a smart factory could deliver intelligence to procurement officers looking to deduce how many materials the facility consumes to create the products the production company sells on the market. Allowing this delivery to occur necessitates establishing a connection between the procurement team's enterprise resource planning solution and the device management platform. 

In this respect, be sure to choose a solution with ample support for application programming interfaces, which support software integration. 

The considerations one must take when choosing a device management platform are many, but starting with these three assessments will provide clarity to such a serious investment.

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