The extension of internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects—better known as the internet of things—has become a critical aspect in many industries. Internet of things companies are in high demand, but the best ones are notoriously difficult to identify. If you’re looking for an IoT partner to help you serve your customers better, we have just the thing for you! We’ve gone through a long list of the most capable and experienced companies working in IoT today and ranked the very best based on a rigorous set of criteria. The majority of these companies have a local US office, and in every case, they’ve worked with US clients. The final ranking below is a curated list of the best of the best.
We’re known for our stringent criteria when it comes to ranking technology companies from any domain. It was no different in this case. After compiling a long list of the most well-known companies specializing in IoT, we carefully went through each company’s services and portfolio to ensure that only the very best passed muster. Below you’ll find the detailed set of factors we used to evaluate these companies.
The first step in our evaluation process is a careful examination of the company’s website. This includes looking at the company’s past projects, case studies, experience level, and specializations. Of course, given how young the internet of things is, a company’s length of experience isn’t as critical a factor in our ranking compared to depth of experience. This gives internet of things startups an equal chance to showcase their capabilities. Indeed, some of the best work in IoT is being done by young companies free from outdated processes and brimming with groundbreaking ideas.
Next, we dig deeper into the companies’ services. They make the list only if they follow the latest best practices within the domain of each individual service. The internet of things requires expertise in a wide range of areas. With the help of multiple sources, we ensure the company hits the mark in each of these before we consider ranking them on our internet of things companies list.
IoT architectures rely on real-time data processing to properly function and interact with other things. This means that companies offering IoT services must excel in the following data-related specializations:
Although typically a service provided by big data companies, data mining is also mandatory to execute a successful IoT solution. We verify the following among the companies providing this service:
We check that each IoT company can craft an efficient data mining infrastructure, which requires knowledge in some of the most popular open-source data-mining tools.
The internet of things technology companies on our list can skillfully utilize machine learning for the following purposes:
Data science and cloud computing go hand in hand. With the growing use of big data, organizations typically need to store large sets of data online instead of in local servers. We expect IoT developers to understand the different cloud computing types (PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS) and the key cloud computing platforms and technologies.
Apart from the areas of specialization mentioned above, the top internet of things companies need teams of professionals with expertise in a variety of critical technologies related to data mining.
Hadoop is a collection of open-source software for facilitating the use of a network of computers to solve problems involving massive amounts of data and computation. It, therefore, provides a software framework for distributed storage and processing big data. Agencies involved with data analytics need to have knowledge of core Hadoop components such as HDFS, MapReduce, Flume, Oozie, Hive, Pig, HBase, and YARN.
Most internet of things companies need software for the rapid analysis and processing of big data. Spark, the in-memory stack, is a faster, simpler alternative to MapReduce. Any agencies dealing with big data should have in-depth knowledge of it.
NoSQL databases like MongoDB and Couchbase are taking over the tasks previously performed by SQL databases like Oracle and IBM DB2.
Statistical and quantitative analysis is an essential aspect of work related to big data. Experience and expertise in statistical tools like SAS, SPSS, MATLAB, or Stata are critical to complete this aspect of data analytics.
Teams working in the IoT ecosystem must be proficient in a number of programming languages. A brief description of the most important programming languages used in IoT is given in a section further below.
These platforms are essential for the development of an IoT. These are like integrated development environments (IDEs) that provide powerful toolkits with end-to-end solutions to develop, deploy, and manage IoT applications. The companies on our list are proficient in at least some of the top platforms.
The Azure IoT Suite and Azure IoT Hub let IoT companies create applications, manage devices remotely, and analyze data in real time. It works with multiple operating systems and platforms. The Azure cloud platform uses Microsoft’s Visual Studio SDK, which is familiar to millions of developers.
Google’s IoT platform is a powerful integrated service offering complete solutions for the development and management of millions of connected devices. Its sophisticated analytics tool lets companies gain insight in real-time. Its core features include end-to-end security, integrated services with the cloud, advanced data analytics, business process optimization, and a fully managed infrastructure.
This emerging platform for IoT software companies offers cost-effective solutions that reduce risk and development time. Its flexible solutions allow the faster development, integration, and deployment of multiple IoT solutions, making future developments and upgrades flexible and scalable.
IBM’s IoT platform offers total solutions for application development, device management, cloud database, and real-time data analytics. Watson offers cost-effective solutions for supply chain management and payment processing and also claims to have strong analytical solutions for IoT cognitive analytics.
This platform from Apple and GE is relatively new and is primarily designed for industrial IoT. An IoT developer in need of predictive maintenance will find this platform especially useful. Predix can efficiently analyze data and intelligently make predictions and inform the control center to take necessary steps to avoid any critical events.
Cisco’s IoT platform provides simple and secure IoT solutions with network connectivity, data analytics, and application enablement, management, and automation. It promises a secure platform to connect millions of devices from different geographical areas effectively. The platform supports industrial automation, power management, smart city, and transportation systems.
This recently launched IoT platform from Samsung provides a wide range of modules to connect with IoT products, from simple sensors to complex hubs, making it quite popular among IoT companies. One of its top features is a miniaturized solution for multiple applications.
With HPE’s universal IoT platform, customers can connect to a strong system with scalability, modularity, and versatility. It allows customers to monetize from the massive data collected from millions of devices and smart sensors. Its key features include secure monetization, simultaneous management, accurate data analytics, a built-in application designer and marketplace, and cross-vertical operations.
Other prominent IoT platforms include Raspberry Pi 2, Intel’s Galileo, Apple’s HomeKit, Qualcomm’s development kit, and Analog Devices Connect.
The successful execution of an IoT device relies on embedded programming, which involves the building of four basic blocks:
It’s apparent that our internet of things companies also need to be able to deal with hardware components (the last three modules above), which will be embedded in different “things.” These hardware components plug into devices’ mainboards to extend functionality by abstracting specific functions (e.g., GPS, light and heat sensors, or interactive displays). To specify a board’s inputs and outputs and then create a circuit design schematic to determine how these inputs and outputs interact, the entries on our internet of things companies list are proficient with the following:
The open-source microcontroller board developed by Arduino.cc is equipped with sets of digital and analog input/output (I/O) pins that can be interfaced to various expansion boards and other circuits.
These credit-card-sized, barebones, single-board computers are stamped with chips and I/O processors and can connect to a monitor or TV using an HDMI.
This low-power, open-source, single-board computer was developed by Texas Instruments in association with Digi-Key and Newark element14.
Its the first in a line of Arduino-certified development boards developed by Intel and based on Intel x86 architecture. This one has a few important advantages over Arduino boards, making it increasingly popular with internet of things companies.
This is Samsung’s family of hardware modules with different capabilities. Each module bundles CPUs, GPUs, memory, and storage with the wireless network, sensors, video decoding, and other components to help a developer get the device up and running quickly.
This compact version of the traditional Linux OS is specifically customized for use within embedded devices and appliances. It’s common in smart TVs, wireless routers, tablet PCs, and navigation devices.
Brillo is an Android-based embedded operating system platform that uses a communication protocol called Weave. It allows smart devices—even those that don’t use the Android OS—to communicate with it, providing IoT software companies with more flexibility.
Security-Enhanced Linux is a security module specifically made for the Linux kernel, which enables features that support security policies for access control, including mandatory access control (MAC).
Developed by Quantum Software Systems way back in the early 1980s, QNX was a Unix-like real-time microkernel OS primarily used in embedded systems. Its customizability and ability to interface easily with external devices have helped it gain wide popularity in the vehicle market.
One of the most popular commercial real-time operating systems (RTOS)—particularly in the industrial, medical, and aerospace fields—VxWorks is known for great scalability, robustness, security features.
Yet another long-standing commercial RTOS solution, Integrity has a reputation for performance, reliability, and security. It’s very popular with internet of things software companies working in the aerospace/defense, automotive, industrial, and medical verticals, as well as in the consumer-focused IoT market.
An embedded OS developed by Mentor Graphics, Nucleus supposedly already runs on over 3 billion devices. It has robust support for various embedded architectures and is popular in the automotive, consumer electronics, health care, industrial, and utilities industries.
An open-source community project since 2008, RIOT runs multiple platforms, including embedded devices and PCs (and a large number of the most popular sensor/actuator boards), and has an easy-to-use API. The OS is efficient in terms of power usage and resource requirements.
A free, open-source Unix-like OS descended from Berkeley Software, FreeBSD is popular among IoT development companies as an alternative to Linux. It can run Linux applications and has a number of advantages. However, compared to Linux, it has much poorer graphics support.
An RTOS kernel for embedded devices, FreeRTOS is distributed under the MIT License. Designed to be small and simple, it emphasizes compactness and speed of execution. However, it doesn’t have several of the advanced features typically seen in Linux or Windows, such as device drivers, advanced memory management, user accounts, and networking.
This highly deterministic, embedded RTOS—written mostly in C—was developed by Express Logic (now owned by Microsoft). Its key features include priority inheritance, preemption-threshold, efficient timer management, event-chaining, fast software timers, and a compact size.
Internet of things companies use sensors to collect data and share it with the entire network of connected devices, making it possible for devices to function autonomously and make the ecosystem “smart.” Sensors have been around for a long time, but the development of the internet of things has taken the evolution of sensors to a whole new level. There can be many different types of sensors, with their key function generally reflected in the name:
Given the importance of sensors in an IoT ecosystem, we verify that the developers in our internet of things leading companies list know about the best platforms and technologies for building them:
The top IoT development companies should have programmers with expertise in general-purpose and embedded-specific languages. This gives them an edge over teams that only excel in data analytics. We check the extent of the agency’s proficiency in the following languages:
It’s the most basic but also one of the most important programming languages for embedded devices in the IoT ecosystem. With multiple logical and mathematical operators, it can apply several assignments to a single statement. This provides a more reliable and scalable code that’s platform-independent and can be reused in multiple settings.
This is an object-oriented programming extension of C. It’s used by IoT companies primarily for systems and application software, as well as drivers, client-server functions and embedded firmware. The way it uses predefined classes of data types that can be used multiple times makes it a flexible solution.
Java is probably the most popular coding language out there thanks to its stable nature, numerous dev tools, powerful libraries, and easy portability across different IoT platforms.
PHP usually brings website prototypes and blogs to mind. However, many IoT developer teams use PHP because it’s lightweight, easy to learn, and still has many advanced features for experienced coders. As an open-source solution that runs primarily on Apache servers, it has broad implications for big data analysis and multi-platform environments.
Python has been gaining popularity in recent years because of its increasingly robust microcontrollers, concise and readable coding style, and easy prototyping. It’s great for apps that have to deliver comprehensible data mining results, for embedded systems that process data in real time, and for writing automation tests for real-time embedded systems.
Short for Golang, this cutting-edge programming language from Google is popular among IoT companies working with embedded systems programming. This is thanks to its memory safety and CSP-style concurrency. It elegantly combines C and C++’s low-level features so that devices can work together to send and receive data over multiple channels simultaneously.
Similar to Go but developed by Mozilla, Rust’s typestate programming style and zero-cost abstractions make it a great choice for developing innovative embedded systems. This also allows for portability across a wide range of systems, from small microcontrollers to powerful SBCs. Its static analysis also guarantees that unintended components won’t consume any system resources.
ParaSail has a similar syntax to languages like C, Java, and Python. It can be useful to an internet of things company because it’s one of the best options for an IoT application that requires parallel processing.
Derived from the C family of programming languages and developed by Bell Labs, B# was designed with embedded systems in mind. Features like efficient boxing and unboxing conversions, multi-threading statements, field properties, device addressing registers, and interrupt handlers make it perfect for small-scale architectures with tight memory constraints.
There’s an almost bewildering choice of connectivity options for our internet of things companies. Depending on the application and factors such as range, data requirements, security, power demands, and battery life, developer teams need to be able to use certain common technologies.
We already know that BLE is a significant protocol for IoT applications. It isn’t designed for file transfer and is more suitable for small chunks of data, but its widespread integration in smartphones and other mobile devices makes it a top choice for personal devices.
Standard: Bluetooth 4.2 core specification
Frequency: 2.4 GHz (ISM)
Range: 50–150 m (Smart/BLE)
Data Rates: 1 Mbps (Smart/BLE)
ZigBee is another popular wireless protocol with a large installed base of operation more commonly seen in industrial IoT settings. The IoT services company you select should know the advantages it provides. To start, in complex systems, it offers low-power operation, high security, robustness, and high scalability, with high node counts, making it well-positioned to take advantage of wireless control and sensor networks in IoT applications.
Standard: ZigBee 3.0 based on IEEE802.15.4
Frequency: 2.4 GHz
Range: 10–100 m
Data Rates: 250 kbps
This is a low-power RF communications technology, primarily designed for home automation products like lamp controllers and sensors. It’s optimized for the reliable, low-latency communication of small data packets, and its use of a simpler protocol enables faster IoT development. However, there’s only one chip maker for Z-Wave, compared to multiple sources for other technologies like ZigBee.
Standard: Z-Wave Alliance ZAD12837 / ITU-T G.9959
Frequency: 900 MHz (ISM)
Range: 30 m
Data Rates: 9.6/40/100 kbit/s
6LowPAN is a network protocol that defines encapsulation and header compression mechanisms. It’s great for home and building automation, easily producing complex control systems and communicating with devices in a cost-effective manner via a low-power wireless network.
Frequency: Adapted and used over a variety of other networking media including Bluetooth Smart (2.4 GHz) or ZigBee or low-power RF (sub-1 GHz)
Data Rates: N/A
The pervasiveness of WiFi in homes and its ability to handle high quantities of data make it a common choice for IoT developers. The one drawback with the most common WiFi standard (802.11n) is that its throughput of hundreds of megabits per second is fine for file transfers but is too power-consuming for many IoT applications.
Standard: Based on 802.11n (most common)
Frequency: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands
Range: Approximately 50 m
Data Rates: 600 Mbps maximum, but 150–200 Mbps is more typical, depending on the channel frequency used and the number of antennas (latest 802.11-ac standard should offer 500 Mbps to 1 Gbps)
This is a very new IP-based networking protocol for internet of things companies working in home automation. Though it’s similar to 6LowPAN, it is primarily designed to complement WiFi. Essentially, it recognizes that despite being good for many consumer devices, WiFi has limitations for use in a home automation setup.
Standard: Thread, based on IEEE802.15.4 and 6LowPAN
Frequency: 2.4 GHz (ISM)
Data Rates: N/A
GSM/3G/4G capabilities can be used with applications that need to operate over long distances. While cellular, especially 4G, is capable of sending high quantities of data, the expense and power consumption can be too high. However, internet of things software companies have found it ideal for sensor-based projects that send very low amounts of data over the internet.
Standard: GSM/GPRS/EDGE (2G), UMTS/HSPA (3G), LTE (4G)
Frequency: 900/1800/1900/2100 MHz
Range: 35 km max for GSM; 200 km max for HSPA
Data Rates: 35–170 kps (GPRS), 120–384 kbps (EDGE), 384 kbps–2 Mbps (UMTS), 600 kbps–10 Mbps (HSPA), 3–10 Mbps (LTE)
Near Field Communication is another commonly used technology that enables simple and safe two-way interactions between electronic devices. It’s especially useful for smartphones, allowing consumers to perform contactless payment transactions, access digital content, and connect electronic devices.
Standard: ISO/IEC 18000–3
Frequency: 13.56 MHz (ISM)
Range: 10 cm
Data Rates: 100–420 kbps
This is an alternative wide-range technology for internet of things companies that achieves a balance between the low range of WiFi and the high cost of cellular technologies. It offers a robust, power-efficient, and scalable network that can communicate with millions of battery-operated devices across several square kilometers. This makes it suitable for M2M applications like smart meters, patient monitors, security devices, street lighting, and environmental sensors.
Frequency: 900 MHz
Range: 30–50 km (rural environments), 3–10 km (urban environments)
Data Rates: 10–1000 bps
Similar in concept to Sigfox, Neul leverages very small slices of the TV white space spectrum to deliver high scalability, high coverage, low power, and low-cost wireless networks. It works over the UHF spectrum, which became available after the transition from analog TVs to digital TVs. The communications technology is called Weightless, which is a new wide-area wireless networking technology designed for IoT development, largely competing with existing GPRS, 3G, CDMA, and LTE WAN solutions.
Frequency: 900 MHz (ISM), 458 MHz (UK), 470–790 MHz (white space)
Range: 10 km
Data Rates: A few bps up to 100 kbps
Similar in some respects to Sigfox and Neul, LoRaWAN targets wide-area network (WAN) applications. It provides low-power WANs with features specifically needed to support low-cost, mobile, secure, bi-directional communication in IoT, M2M, and smart city and industrial applications. Because of this, it’s optimized for low power consumption and can support large networks with millions of devices.
Range: 2–5 km (urban environment), 15 km (suburban environment)
Data Rates: 0.3–50 kbps
Security is an integral part of any development service, but particularly so for an IoT solutions company. After all, allowing devices to connect to the internet opens them up to a number of serious vulnerabilities. Employing our custom criteria for selecting the top cyber security companies, we verified the companies on our list to be skilled at the following:
This involves protecting and securing the network connecting IoT devices to back-end systems on the internet. Given the wider range of communication protocols, standards, and device capabilities, network security is more challenging within the internet of things than in traditional situations. Key security capabilities include traditional endpoint security features such as antivirus, antimalware, firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems.
IoT authentication generally skips over human intervention thanks to its embedded sensors and machine-to-machine interaction. The user authentication security capabilities for internet of things companies range from the simple, static password/pin to more robust mechanisms such as two-factor authentication, digital certificates, and biometrics.
The wide range of IoT devices and hardware profile limits make standard encryption processes and protocols a challenge. In addition, all IoT encryption must be accompanied by an equivalent full encryption key lifecycle management process, since poor key management reduces overall security. Therefore, this form of security involves encrypting data at rest and in motion between IoT edge devices and back-end systems using standard cryptographic algorithms. This helps maintain data integrity and reduces the risk of data sniffing by hackers.
PKI takes advantage of complex digital certificates and cryptographic keys and offers key lifecycle management capabilities for IoT development, including generation, distribution, management, and revocation of public and private cryptographic keys. These digital certificates can be loaded into IoT devices that are enabled by third-party public key infrastructure software or installed by manufacturers.
API security ensures that the data transmitted through endpoint to back-end systems is only done by authorized person(s). It not only verifies that authorized devices, developers, and apps use the API, it helps detect threats and attacks on APIs.
IoT security analytics helps detect IoT-specific attacks not identified by traditional security solutions like firewalls. Solutions in this area make use of sophisticated machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data techniques to provide more productive modeling and anomaly detection.
Web development is a vital aspect of the projects undertaken by IoT companies for a number of reasons. Put simply, many IoT devices—laptops, TVs, smart applications, wearables, industrial monitors, etc.—display web content. The most obvious use of web content in this case is to provide an interface where users can interact with the connected devices in an IoT ecosystem.
Web design and development is also important because numerous websites now require complex capabilities to communicate effectively with back-end databases that store personalized data. And despite this advanced communication, users want these webpages to load quickly without transmission delays.
We’ve chosen the web development experts based on a detailed set of criteria. If you go this route, you’ll want a web design and development company that can undertake full-stack development (which includes optimization of the front end), develop frameworks and third-party libraries, and make use of databases. Also, experience in mobile-responsive web design is vital.
Software development is the backbone that supports internet of things development. An IoT system won’t work effectively unless it’s backed by software development that can manage the many challenges inherent in any IoT project. It should provide the right operating system, gateways to connect devices with different connectivity protocols, the IoT platform, a user-friendly design, quality control, cross-platform deployment, and, of course, proper cybersecurity.
Some of the key factors we considered when evaluating the top software developers include the company’s ability to develop custom software, develop software across platforms, and meet quality goals at every critical stage.
Like web development, application development goes hand-in-hand with IoT development projects. Apps provide brilliant interfaces so that users with little or no technical background can make use of all that the IoT has to offer. Meanwhile, the connectivity of different devices helps our apps become more streamlined and functional than ever before. When developing apps in an IoT environment, developers need to be even more careful than usual about aspects like speed, interoperability, scalability, sensor accuracy, connectivity, privacy, and security.
After developing a wide-ranging and nearly exhaustive set of criteria, we discovered the top app development companies you can hire. Among these criteria, some of the most relevant from an internet of things software development perspective include the company’s expertise with different development platforms, native vs. web-based vs. hybrid applications, database and hosting solutions, and security protocols.
That brings us to the end of this detailed coverage of the leading internet of things companies and the important criteria we ranked them on. We believe this comprehensive article will help you partner with the agency best suited for your needs. Moreover, you should now have a better understanding of the wide and unique range of specialties that your chosen agency should excel at.