Breaking the Cycle: Embracing a Buy-and-Build Approach for IoT Implementation

If you wait long enough, everything comes back into style. This timeless principle not only applies to fashion, but also to software development. The technology preferences in the industry have been swinging between bespoke solutions and platform-based solutions due to emerging technologies and their challenges. As someone who has been in the industry since the 1990s, I’ve witnessed these shifts firsthand.

In the ’90s, bespoke solutions were prevalent, as technology was still evolving, and organizations had unique requirements that off-the-shelf solutions couldn’t meet. Developers had to build custom software from scratch to meet specific needs.

In the 2000s, platforms and packaged solutions gained popularity, reducing development time and effort. However, even within the platform era, shakeouts occurred as new technologies challenged dominant platforms. For example, while SQL became the defacto standard for relational databases, non-SQL databases started to gain traction, sparking a new cycle of development.

We saw a resurgence of bespoke solutions in the 2010s, which could be attributed to several factors. First, there is the increasing complexity of business requirements and the need for highly customized solutions. Second, advancements in technology, such as cloud computing and microservice architectures, enable more flexible and modular development approaches. Third, the rise of open source software provides developers with a vast ecosystem of customizable tools and frameworks.

Looking ahead to the 2020s, it’s challenging to predict whether the preference will lean more toward platform-based or bespoke solutions. Both are likely to coexist, catering to different needs and contexts.

The Internet of Things (IoT) space follows a similar pattern of shifting preferences. As IoT evolves, we can expect shifts between bespoke and platform-based solutions. While platforms provide efficiency, bespoke solutions address unique use cases.

Now, the million-dollar question is: While likely that both will coexist, is there another path forward? In other words, can this cycle be broken?

I believe that breaking this cycle is crucial due to the costly and disruptive transition between the two approaches. Instead, a new paradigm is needed—a best-of-both-worlds approach: buying and building.

The buy-and-build approach involves acquiring a flexible IoT platform as the foundation for innovation and differentiation. It provides ready-to-use solutions, allowing organizations to achieve strategic business outcomes swiftly and efficiently at scale. This platform acts as a springboard for innovation, providing businesses with the tools and resources they need to launch customer-facing services, deliver valuable insights, and drive growth. With a solid foundation in place, organizations can focus their efforts on customizing and building upon this platform to meet their unique requirements.

This true buy-and-build approach empowers businesses with intuitive tools so they can easily develop their own services on top of the prebuilt solutions. This allows them to differentiate themselves from competitors and cater to the specific needs of their target audience. Whether it’s creating personalized dashboards, integrating third-party applications, or developing unique analytics modules, the build aspect of the approach unleashes the full potential of IoT innovation.

As the technology landscape continues to evolve, organizations must continuously adapt and seek the most appropriate approach for their requirements. The buy-and-build approach represents a real paradigm shift in IoT implementation, empowering organizations to navigate the digital landscape with agility and thrive in the era of limitless possibilities.

Breaking the cycle is a challenge, but with the right approach, the industry can embrace the future of IoT implementation. If life allows, I will be around for at least a decade, and I can’t wait to see if it happens.


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