With everyone jumping onto the IoT bandwagon, confusion reigns supreme. More than 400 software platforms for IoT systems have arisen with more on the way, leaving potential users with major challenges deciding what to purchase from whom. The International M2M Council (IMC) is trying to make acquiring IoT software quicker, easier, and safer for buyers, creating a stable marketplace for buyers and sellers alike.
One of the key ways in which companies screen potential vendors to help them on major projects is to create a request for proposal (RFP) that defines the project’s preliminary requirements and solicits competitive bidding from vendors interested in taking on the project. Unlike a request for quotation (RFQ), which asks for pricing on existing products, the RFP is used to solicit proposals for creating something that does not yet exist. Respondents must reply with information that addresses the technical approach that they would use to meet project requirements and the costs involved, and they must include business information to assure the buyer that they can complete the project as bid.
But in the still-emerging world of the IoT, many vendors lack the solid success history traditionally needed to win an RFP. This leaves buyers hesitant to engage such vendors without extensive investigation into their backgrounds. The result is a slower and riskier process for getting projects launched.
According to surveys that the IMC has conducted, the 25,000 IoT buyers within its membership would welcome the introduction of a standardized RFP document template to help in defining their IoT software needs, to which potential vendors could respond. Furthermore, some 83% of those surveyed would also welcome a mechanism by which third-party consultants could help certify vendor compliance with an RFP and vet potential vendors. With such mechanisms in place, vendors could more quickly and completely prepare RFPs and be assured that the bids they get back are from proven reliable vendors and conform to the requirements.
IMC’s validation program for IoT software vendors includes three key elements in its evaluation process. Image source: IoT M2M Council.