From Prototype to Product

It’s easy to get excited in the early days of developing a connected product.  A prototype sits on the board room table and the conversation quickly turns to new features, new business models, and how to differentiate the product from its competitors. What is often overlooked in those early days are the technology hurdles that sit between a prototype and product and the business transformation that this new product will bring. The question is simple but the answer is complicated – how do you move from prototype to product?

Here are 7 components that need to be addressed:

– How do I support my system at scale?

– Messaging

– Messaging solutions need to scale to millions of connections while maintaining low latency, Quality of Service delivery guarantees, and permission models that give users the right level of authorization.

– Security

– Security of data transmitted through the apps and devices – both in storage and in flight – is a top priority for any organization creating connected products. At this stage, between prototype and product, concern grows for encryption protocols, in-memory storage, authorization and access controls to devices.

– How can I enable my system to grow without my help?

– Device Provisioning

– How will new devices in the field securely provision and update themselves? The manufacturing process heavily influences the manner in which devices get their credentials when they first wake up, and how they will update their software in the field. Solutions range from individual preset credentials to cryptographically-secure transmission of credentials on wakeup.

– Secure User Onboarding

– How will I securely let my users register themselves and “claim” devices that they own in a hands-off and scalable fashion, without compromising any of the integrity of my system’s security? This question involves rich provisioning and association flows with tightly orchestrated security mechanisms under the hood.

– Roles & Permissions for Administrators

– How will I set dynamic roles and permissions for all the players? Administrators and back-office tools require a different level of access to data than the end users of the system.

– Have I crossed off my pre-launch checklist?

– What is my firmware update strategy? How will I monitor my rollout, and be able to identify patterns across the deployment?  At this stage, it’s important to have a checklist for the team to ensure the product is ready for release.

– How will I support my customers?

– If the product is a success, there will be thousands of devices in the hands of users that expect a great experience.  How will my existing team respond to this new demand of monitoring and troubleshooting these devices so my customers don’t have to? It might be possible to integrate the connectivity of the product into customer support and service channels, if there is a plan in place.

It’s common to think that the availability of raw messaging, provisioning and user management services commercially available means that DIY is the best route. The reality is that it’s much like thinking you can build your own house just because there’s a hardware store in town: it’s possible, but it’s not necessarily a good foundation. Considering the demands above ensures that you are building connected products with the ability to scale.

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