As we’ve discussed a few times before, building an IoT-enabled product goes far beyond just connecting a device to the Internet. It’s more about gathering data, making that data actionable and using that information to enhance the customer experience. Billing a product as a “smart” product brings with it a much different set of customer expectations than those of traditional product companies. The logic goes like this: since the product is connected and data is being collected, product companies can’t just take the advantage of that information to enhance their business, but are also beholden to it.
What most companies looking to become connected product companies get most excited about is collecting the IoT data and what that information can do to enrich their business. Who their customers are, what features they use most, etc. But equally as important is operational data – the information that helps determine device health and performance like online status, necessary firmware upgrades, experienced errors, and the like. This information is worth its weight in gold. Here’s why.
Customer experience is becoming the main competitive differentiator and this operational data is the key to delivering unique, proactive and exceptional customer experience. This data can help product companies identify and remediate issues as well as perform root cause analysis to ensure the problem isn’t wider spread or won’t repeat itself. Imagine a manufacturer being able to determine that a connectivity problem in a particular region is due to a severe storm. While that particular issue is out of their control, they can alert customers to the problem and provide regular updates. If, on the other hand, the issue is because of an error in the firmware – they can quickly fix it minimizing service disruptions. For preventative maintenance, operational data can help determine the best time to conduct updates or provide replacement parts to reduce interruptions and reducing costs. Ultimately if a product isn’t performing the way it should, the expectation is that the manufacturer is aware of the issue and should be proactively working to remediate the issue – all with little or no customer involvement.
Of course all of this sounds great, but as with anything, it’s much easier said than done. All data, operational or otherwise, must be stored somewhere and IoT devices typically lack the local storage needed to save the deluge of data being collected. In an ideal world, operational product data should be collected in one central place, and kept organized in a way that it can be easily analyzed in real-time to identify issues. For instance, data should be segmented into pre-identified streams, and intelligence to look for variances should be set up.
Built from experience helping companies launch and manage connected products, Xively’s logging capabilities allow companies to handle, analyze and act on large streams of operational data from the start. Xively provides separate data streams and tools to collect, store, and organize operational data all within Xively, without additional overhead. This allows users to perform root cause analysis, improve performance and usability across a fleet of devices, and even build visualizations, run analytics, or pose massive queries.
When building an IoT connected product, companies need to think beyond the connectivity and take into consideration how owning a connected product business will impact the overall experience for their customers. By putting operational data to work, manufacturers have a much better chance to create an experience that will not only build long-term customer loyalty but will also drive new revenue. Xively helps make that possible.