Designing Products for the IoT? Don’t Go it Alone

It goes without saying that the Internet of Things (IoT) promises to be the biggest technology shift since the Internet.  But like the early days of the Internet, the IoT puts a big question mark in the minds of product developers and managers everywhere.   The uncertainty is not about the opportunity and possibilities of connected products, but rather how to cross the gap between the promise of the IoT and actually delivering business value.  Add on competitive pressure to be first/best/most innovative to market, how can product designers and developers create the products of the future today?

The first step is to understand the challenge that is ahead.  Product designers have spent years mastering the design and engineering of traditional non-connected products.  Yet overnight it feels like  they are being asked to enter this world of connected products – a world filled with heaps of unknown unknowns.   For one of our terrific customers – Halo Smart Labs – who develop IoT connected smoke detectors, designing a connected smoke detector is significantly more challenging than developing a traditional detector we probably all have in our homes.  All of the sudden a smoke detector manufacturer needs to think about managing users, applications and wireless connectivity.  Whether we are talking about smoke detectors, thermostats, or any other product, designers are being faced with a lot of tough questions like:

  • Which wireless connectivity is the best for you?
  • What messaging protocols are going to be the most reliable?
  • How do I scale my backend to manage a large volume of devices?
  • How do I manage software updates and security patches?
  • How do I design an app that communicates with my device?
  • How do I map the complex web of users and roles and permissions and identity?
  • How do I support this product?
  • Will it be secure?

These questions, and in some cases even these terms, are like speaking ancient Greek to many designers.  It’s not in their core competency and we can’t expect to turn them into software engineers overnight.  It’s important for product designers/engineers – and frankly all the way up to the C-level — to fully understand how the IoT will not only change the value they can bring into the business but will also change how they bring these products to market.  For most, designing for the IoT will be far different than anything they have ever tackled before.

The good news is that they are not alone. Just as they have spent years mastering how to design traditional products, there are companies that have spent years mastering the art of connecting and managing IoT products.  Finding trusted partners like Xively by LogMeIn, for example, will help to answer all the tough questions, allowing product companies to focus on bringing a great product to market faster than anyone could have imagined.

At Xively, we partner with product and design companies help accelerate the designing, connecting, managing and supporting of IoT products.  Next week catch us at SOLIDWORKS World in Dallas where we will be discussing this very topic.  Stop by our booth and check out some of the great customers we have helped bring innovative IoT products to life with Xively.  Also, keep an eye on our blog and social handles, we’ll be sharing news and our experiences at the show.

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