One of the earliest steps in integrating IoT technology into your business is choosing an IoT SIM provider. Your IoT SIM provider supplies both the hardware and network you need to use IoT in your business.
As the name suggests, your IoT SIM provider supplies IoT SIM cards, these are the hardware we just mentioned. The IoT SIM cards contain the data required for connecting IoT devices to your IoT provider’s network. The IoT provider’s network might offer a connection to the internet, or it can be a local network that’s limited to a facility or your company.
All this is to say that selecting the best IoT SIM card provider determines how well your IoT implementation works for your business. Obviously, the hardware needs to work on the devices you intend to use, and the provider’s network needs to be reliable and high-performance.
This article will give you a simple, five-point checklist you can use to evaluate IoT SIM providers and choose an IoT provider that will set you up for success.
1. Look for an IoT SIM Provider That Normalizes IoT Data
Unless you’re an IoT network nerd, you probably aren’t familiar with data normalization, much less IoT data normalization. The process may be a bit complex, from a software development standpoint, but the purpose and real-world impact are relatively easy to understand.
IoT data normalization is just the process of standardizing how IoT devices package and transmit data to make it easier to connect IoT devices to different types of networks.
There are many IoT network protocols—MQTT, HTTP, SNMP, and BLE just to name a few—and you may need to add network protocols to your IoT infrastructure. Normalizing your IoT data simplifies the process of adding these new network protocols and connecting existing IoT devices to that new network.
IoT data normalization serves as the foundation for the next two key IoT provider features.
2. Your IoT SIM Provider Needs to Be Scalable
If you’re growing your business, you obviously need your IoT network to scale as you add new devices and implement IoT in new use cases.
As such, the IoT provider you choose should be able to support more connected IoT devices that you currently need. That way there’s room to grow on your IoT provider’s existing network.
Additionally, it should be simple to get more SIM cards and provide new connections to support any IoT devices you add.
When you’re evaluating an IoT provider, check their documentation or ask a sales representative about the process of expanding your IoT device support, and make sure it’s a straightforward task.
3. IoT System Flexibility is Key
Iterating on your IoT system implementation is important. It’s unlikely that you’ll build perfectly optimized IoT infrastructure right out of the gate, even with good planning and network design.
Therefore, your IoT provider needs to be flexible enough to quickly adapt to changes in network protocols, add new network protocols, and respond to changes in your IoT configuration. That way your iteration and improvement efforts are not hampered by an unresponsive IoT SIM provider.
4. IoT Tools Need to Be Simple
Your IoT provider should offer smart tools for developing and deploying IoT devices, and these tools should be as simple and intuitive as possible.
Your development team needs to be able to quickly learn how to use these tools, and other members of your team—who may not be developers—will also need to be able to use tools from your IoT provider to manage IoT devices and use data from those devices.
It’s incredibly inefficient if your IT team constantly needs to help other teams or if you need to frequently contact your IoT provider’s support services for your people to do their jobs.
Check any IoT provider’s dashboards and development tools to make sure they’re clear and user-friendly.
5. Experienced IoT SIM Providers are the Best
The last thing is to gather some information on how much experience your IoT provider has in delivering IoT connectivity.
While many pioneering IoT providers may offer innovative solutions, they may not have a robust and reliable network, or their support tools may not be as stable and well-developed.
On the other hand, a long-standing provider will likely have a well-established network, stronger relationships with third-party providers, and optimized tools which have been iterated based on long-term feedback from customers.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should never work with an emerging IoT provider. Some newer providers have done the quality groundwork to build out a strong network and invested in developing intuitive tools to ensure they roll out a quality IoT service from the start.
However, it’s important to get a few experienced IoT providers in your pool of potential providers and compare newer providers to these more experienced providers to make sure that the less experienced IoT providers have done their homework to be competitive.
Though, in many cases, you’ll find that an experienced provider is a better option.
Now It’s Your Turn…
Now that you have a strong checklist for evaluating IoT providers, put a list of potential providers together and put them through their paces based on these factors.
That way you won’t end up needing to switch providers later on when you have many IoT devices and a large network to transfer to a new provider, which can be an expensive process.