Connected Product Management
- Real-time organization of product, user and contextual data associated with a connected product (or IoT-enabled device) in a way that provides actionable insight
- Business processes a company uses to connect products securely, manage the relationships between products and users, and leverage the information to re-imagine how they engage with customers
Have you heard? 2016 is going to be the year of the IoT. Ok, if you’ve been following the IoT hype, it may seem a lot like Groundhog Day. It seems like we’ve been talking about this for a while now. I read a blog recently that I thought summed up perfectly where we are with the IoT. The author, Matt Turck, asked a very poignant question — “Are we there yet?” While the IoT isn’t the back seat of my parent’s station wagon, I can’t blame anyone for feeling that way. The reality is, as Turck puts it, the IoT is like the Internet of 1999 or mobile phones in 2007 – we are still in the early stages. Not Netscape or AOL keyword early. Not Nokia brick phone or even Motorola Razr early. We are more like Apple iPhone early. And, while it’s easy to imagine every year for the foreseeable future being labelled as “the year of IoT,” I believe that 2016 will be remembered as a tipping point – not because of any one killer app or dramatic overnight boost in adoption, but rather because we’ll look back at 2016 as the year that companies – both manufacturers and IoT vendors — finally cracked the product/market fit code.
So what’s been holding us back from this all along? Simply put, the IoT ecosystem today is a cluttered noisy mess with a mishmash of products, building blocks, and providers all trying to make a name for themselves. This is the year we will start to make sense of it. This is the year that we tackle the common challenges that have emerged as more and more product companies look to become connected product companies. And once we, as the IoT vendor community, can make some sense and provide solutions to these challenges, it will be the year that connected product ideas languishing in skunkworks-like labs start to see the light of day.
So what are those challenges? There are 3 main ones we see on a regular basis:
#1. Lack of Domain Expertise – Oven manufacturers aren’t software developers. Plain and simple. Traditional product companies don’t have the technological expertise it takes to build and manage a connected product. Without this critical skill set companies are creating subpar products, cost overruns, and connected gadgets that add little value (does anyone really need a connected umbrella?)
#2. New Customer Expectations – Customers expect a consistent, seamless experience from pre to post sale and will be looking for an ongoing and direct relationship with the company. We might as well be speaking a foreign language to most manufacturers who have lived in a “ship it and forget it” world for years. Connecting a product turns companies into service providers – and becoming a service provider is often a challenge they aren’t ready for.
#3. Lack of a System of Record for IoT – The beauty of connected products is that they provide a ton of new information about the product itself, how the customer is using the product and much more. The downside is that if you don’t properly manage that data, it becomes essentially useless. Even worse that “useless” data also introduces a massive new security challenge of keeping user information away from prying eyes. Without having a single source to store and manage all this information, it can become unwieldy.
So there they are – the golden trifecta. It’s obvious that there is a need in for a simple way to help companies quickly move past these hurdles. That’s where Connected Product Management (CPM) comes in. Similar to CRM, CPM is both a practice and a set of technologies. While CPM isn’t necessarily a new concept, most of focus has been on the practice of CPM, but few have introduced the technology piece. It’s this piece that is emerging as a critical part of the IoT stack and what’s included in a CPM solution is starting to come into focus.
A true CPM is going to help take IoT past the hype to reality by making it easy for companies to achieve. It helps connect products securely, manage the relationships between the connected product and users and better engage with customers based on actionable insights. By solving the most common challenges out of the gate – companies are in a better position to get products to market faster. Once products are in market, connected at scale and showing value to customers and businesses alike, that is when we will achieve mainstream adoption. That is when we will see the IoT really take off. And that is when the answer to “are we there yet” is finally, yes.
To find out more about connected product management visit our website – xively.com/cpm