CES has been called many things… The Super Bowl of Products… The Oscars of Technology… one thing we know is: it’s THE event to show off the latest and greatest consumer products. We also know that on the show floor there will be many, many IoT connected products.
Right now, across the world, companies are working toward CES as the deadline to unveil their IoT “smart” products to the world. January will be here before we know it, so many of our customers are thinking about what to show, and how to make it stand out from the crowd. No matter the type of IoT product, there are a few features each need to have to even have a shot of making a splash at CES. Here they are (in no particular order):
- Automation driven by data integrations – by now we have moved past concerns about the ‘data deluge’ and are more focused on how companies can use connected product data to deliver real business value. Stand-out IoT products will need to be able to bring connected product data into their business systems. Product data should be able to flow into CRMs to enable automated ticketing and support when something goes wrong. Streaming device data should be evaluated in real-time and configured to trigger alerts via SMS, email, etc.
- Elevated support experiences – no matter how good your connected product is, if you have not planned for your customer support experience, you might as well skip the show. Go right to the poker tables, because you’re gambling with success. Businesses that have figured out how to manufacture a good product AND surround it with a seamless support experience will be the ones that have longevity.
- Firmware management – When you put your products out into the world, your one lifeline to keeping them under control and updated takes the form of your ability to securely transfer files to them (SFT). Without the ability to update firmware, devices will eventually become bricked relics. Likely sooner than you think. (see also; Britney Spears: Piece of Me show at Planet Hollywood in Vegas.) And while some companies opt to build firmware management capabilities themselves, there are a few solutions that offer out-of-the box firmware management capabilities. No one can predict how hackers will evolve in sophistication, or what the latest Apple iOS release will bring. One things we can predict, though, is that every solid connected product company at CES in 2018 will undoubtedly have some sort of SFT manager in their product infrastructure.
- Customer engagement strategy – Moving beyond remote monitoring and control, the new wave of IoT products also enable companies to better engage with their customers. Across marketing, service, and support, companies need to be using product data to forge stronger relationships with their customers. In a world where consumers can order anything under the sun by speaking to Alexa, the idea of manufacturers creating a direct-to-consumer conversation via the IoT is more important than ever. Companies who are not thinking about this risk losing customers to competitive brands, or worse, consumers developing complete brand apathy.
- Testing new business models –Simply creating a connected product it is not a tried-and-true recipe for success. The list of failed IoT products once seen at CES is longer than a bar tab at the end of a Vegas bachelor party weekend. Companies that are truly finding success with IoT-connected products are ones that are innovating with business models to offset the expenses that come with running an IoT business. Successful connected product companies will include all-new services business for IoT-connected products (like monitoring or servicing), or recurring purchases of replenishable items (like filters, soap, or coffee beans). Perhaps someone will have made progress in the still-evolving IoT product data economy where product data can be used for programmatic or predictive marketing to customers. At CES in 2018, keep an eye out for companies who are innovating with revenue sources. These are the ones to watch.
Have you checked the box on these? Stay tuned for next week when we talk about how to meet and beat your competitors at CES 2018.