Listening is a big part of my job. I listen to calls with current customers as they build and launch their connected products, and I listen to conversations with prospective customers who are in early preparation stages of the IoT journey. It won’t be a surprise to you when I say, there are a LOT of questions and opinions along the way. The IoT is complicated and it’s constantly evolving.
From all the conversations I’ve listened to, and all the successes and failures I’ve seen, common themes start to reveal themselves. To help those who are considering jumping on the IoT bandwagon, I put together a list of common misconceptions about building a connected product. If any of these myths sound close to home for you, don’t worry, it’s never too late to get back on course.
MYTH 1: It’s best if my internal technical team builds the first version of my product.
REALITY: The IoT is exciting and fun, and for a product company with developers and engineers, there’s nothing more tempting than tinkering with some new tech. Most product companies have deep expertise specific to their product, but little experience building for IoT, so there’s inevitably a lot to learn. To successfully build and launch an IoT-connected product, you must be well-versed in an array of IoT technologies including sensors, gateways, networking, security, analytics, digital applications, software integration, API management, data storage, and more. To make the process infinitely easier on you and your team, find an external expert or team who can help you make smart, informed choices the first time around. Whether you work with a systems integrator, consultant, or an IoT Platform team with deep IoT expertise, set yourself up for success and save yourself countless hours and headaches caused by having to undo work you’ve done.
MYTH 2: I should expect it to take multiple years and 100s of thousands of dollars to connect, launch, and support a connected product.
REALITY: If you build a 100% custom solution, or have complex or rare product requirements, it can take a long time and a lot of money to connect your product. But in my experience most implementations have relatively standard requirements and can leverage existing solutions available in popular IoT platforms. For example, one of our customers was looking to get to market quickly in a highly-competitive market and we connected their product and built a mobile app with them in less than four months. With a solid IoT platform foundation, they could leverage existing assets and get their product into the hands of their customers fast, and then take time rolling out more custom features after the initial launch.
MYTH 3: It’s hard to model out the true ROI of connecting a product
REALITY: For a product company there are direct benefits to connecting a product like opportunities for cost savings, service opportunities, or proactive support as well as indirect benefits including being able to leverage product usage data and getting recognition for innovation. Too many companies focus on the indirect value of IoT-connecting a product, which is very hard to measure and often does not deliver value for many years. If you’re able to focus on how your products can add direct value to your bottom line, like being able to sell them with a solid margin, or recurring revenue through subscription service, while also keeping the cost of maintaining and supporting your devices low, you have a solid starting point for some tangible ROI calculations. Making other strategic decisions, like working with an IoT platform provider instead of hiring engineers to stay on staff will help make the ROI numbers work out in your favor.
Feeling any better about this whole thing? One thing is for certain: no journey is ever the same. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be riddled with frustration or failure. Many have come before you, and even more will follow. There are ways you can connect your product that are easy (gasp!), fun (really?), and rewarding (yes!) for your business. If you’ve been thinking that you should start looking into connecting your devices, or considering how you might navigate the IoT , there’s no time like the present to get going.