Effective Internet of Things (IoT) platforms must leverage open-data concepts to avoid vendor lock-in, an IoT technologist has advised partners flocking to establish their credentials in the fast-growing space.

Many companies were pegging their IoT value proposition around turnkey software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings that collected, analysed, and presented data.

But “if your value is just locking customers into a dashboard, that’s not going to be OK,” Matt Sinclair, IoT and AI Lead for Australia with Microsoft, told attendees at the IoT Festival.

“The ones that do well are those that allow customers to export the data in a cheap, efficient and scalable manner.”

“This allows it to move from that thing where you have the use case, to extracting data and generating value for the business.”

An increasingly ‘intelligent edge’ would help keep the borders open and access via API was one important concession to open-data requirements.

However, ensuring long-term data access also required a range of design considerations be observed from the beginning of the deployment.

This included issues around corporate culture – which, in IoT as in every other area of IT, can easily become a blocker if the organisation isn’t attuned to the role, potential, and challenges around technology.

“If someone in an IT department has deployed an IT solution that’s great,” Sinclair said.

“But if the company isn’t onboard to be able to adopt these technologies, and if they don’t have a culture around data or integrating data sources, it’s going to sit on a shelf somewhere.”

Many partners seeking to stake out their value proposition were doing so by focusing less on data control and more on providing important guidance in non-technical issues around areas such as privacy, ethical use of AI, and even skills development.

Skills access is particularly relevant issue given the industry’s ongoing challenges meeting surging demand for IoT solutions.

And like every challenge, establishing a supportive partner network early on would help IoT projects deliver early ROI based on clear goals and outcomes.

“You should definitely have a flag in the ground,” Sinclair said. “Having that really clear process and what value you’re going to drive, is how we are seeing people succeed.”