Analyst firm Gartner published their list of Industrial IoT Platform leaders in October 2020. Notably Siemens MindSphere is missing from the list. The Gartner Magic Quadrant ™ however lists Hitachi, PTC and Microsoft as leaders and Software AG as a ‘visionary’.
In contrast, in February 2020, analyst firm Forrester published their Forrester Wave ™ with leading Industrial IoT platforms that includes Siemens, together with PTC, Microsoft and C3.ai.
If we look further in both reports, there are also other differences in the ranking such as IBM being a ‘contender’ in Gartner’s view and a ‘strong performer’ in the view of Forrester.
Obviously both analyst firm use their own set of criteria and methods to rank the providers of IoT platforms. It is also not uncommon for providers to work with a limited set of analyst firms, so it could be the case that Siemens decided not to participate in Gartner’s research in 2020.
Participating in analyst firms research is a well-established way to create independent evidence how a solution or product holds up compared to its competitors. In general, the ranking is based on a combination of product related questions, customer references and a product demonstration to the analyst reviewing team. The amount of work for the providers should not be underestimated; there is a significant investment in time needed to address the many questions and solid customer references. I have done it multiple times in the past and can testify that it is an intense process.
However, if we look at the topic of this Magic Quadrant ™ and Forrester Wave ™ I want to raise an important question: what is the relevance of researching a platform?
Comparing IoT platforms with each other is a bit like comparing Linux to Windows or macOS. These operating systems exist next to each other and a choice for one or the other is not necessarily based on their underlying functionalities. The real value is created by choosing the available applications, scalability and developer ecosystem. In my opinion the same applies to (industrial) IoT Platforms.
A choice of IoT platform should be based on these 3 elements, combined with the amount of access to trained staff and product specialists for implementation and maintenance.
Finally I would maintain the opinion that standardization within the company is an important aspect. Choosing one platform and sticking with it allows for scalability and efficiency, two cornerstones of any IoT implementation.
Based on this there probably is not a ‘best’ platform, there are however the best use cases for a particular organization. And those use cases are the applications that run on the platform. Just like Microsoft Office runs on Windows, applications for preventive maintenance or digital twins are the right software to focus on in industrial IoT.
I am looking forward to the analyst firms to compare the IoT applications and create a list of leaders in use cases. Comparing Operating Systems feels like the wrong investment in time and effort for both the analyst and provider teams.