The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the promised land for many manufacturers—analysts predict that 20.4 billion IoT devices will be deployed by 2020, with consumers and businesses spending $2.9 trillion on connected devices.
It’s also a landscape full of potential hazards and pitfalls. A successful IoT product can help your company shift from a traditional manufacturer to a service provider, allowing you to efficiently drive recurring revenue. A bad IoT security breach or product launch can cost your company millions.
Cisco and Deloitte estimate that nearly 75% of all new IoT devices fail after launch. There are numerous factors that contribute to this, including a lack of real product value, security concerns, and poor data visibility.
Fortunately, all these issues are avoidable, especially if you partner with IoT-enablers with extensive experience drawing actionable insights from data and securing data in the cloud.
Don’t want to be in the 75% of products that fail? Here are 11 things to consider for a successful IoT product launch:
1) Does Your Product Solve a Real Customer Need?
In developer-speak, we refer to this as understanding your use case. What are you trying to do? What value are you trying to add to the system? Defining the value that you want to provide your customers is the critical first step in any new IoT product launch.
Conversely, misunderstanding what customers actually want, or how big the potential market is for your product, is the main reason that most IoT products fail after launch. They provide solutions in search of a problem.
Do customers really need a $100 Bluetooth Toaster that sends an alert to your phone when your toast is done? Or a Smart Hairbrush that lets you know when you’re brushing your hair all wrong? Probably not.
And who in the world is eating enough Slim Jims to make a Dash Button seem like a good idea?
As with all product developments, it’s important to determine a real customer need, and deliver a product that enhances the customer experience. That alone can make or break your launch.
2) Do You Fully Understand the IoT Product Development Cycle?
It’s especially easy for seasoned manufacturers to underestimate the complexity of an IoT product launch. IoT products require more than sticking a smart sensor on a pre-existing device.
In reality, developing a successful IoT product requires manufacturers to think through both the typical product development cycle and the typical software development cycle simultaneously.
Gartner identifies five stages of the IoT product development cycle:
- Production & Support
Smart manufacturers will have a plan and a partner in place for each of these critical development stages.
3) Where Will Your IoT Device Be Deployed?
Thoroughly thinking through where and how your device will be deployed is an important aspect of the Requirements and Design phases.
Where does the data from your device need to go, what does it need to do, and how will it get there? What kind of environment will your device live in?
An IoT product that’s used at remote construction sites or among a distributed workforce will have different requirements than a smart refrigerator that’s always connected to your home’s WiFi network.
4) Who Will Develop and Manufacture Your IoT Product for You?
Will you handle design, development, testing, production, and deployment completely in-house? Or do you plan to outsource all or part of the process?
It’s rare that a manufacturing company also has the manpower and internal skill set to manage software development, deployment, security, data storage, and ongoing maintenance and support. It’s vital to plan strategically and realistically.
5) Who Will Connect Your IoT Device to the Internet?
It probably goes without saying, but all IoT devices must have some kind of connection to the Internet.
Does your company have expertise connecting devices to the cloud? If not, the time to identify an IoT-enabler to partner with is during the Requirements phase of your product development cycle—waiting until the end of development can create unanticipated issues.
6) How Will You Handle Data Ingestion and Storage?
When thinking about how you plan to handle data storage, consider how much detail you really need. Your device will likely send thousands of events a day, but what is the general state of the device? What data is meaningful?
The basic principle when launching an IoT product is that you want to capture as much meaningful data as you can without making the product too costly. Storage prices continue to drop, but sometimes it is the act of ingesting the data that becomes cost prohibitive, especially if you’re trying to send terabytes every day.
Think of it this way: how do you edit your data without throwing out important information that could help your business?
Make a list of what you want to capture and talk through that list with your software development team for second and third opinions on what data you might be forgetting to include in the reporting process.
7) How Will the End User Consume and Interact With Your Data?
Once you’ve determined how much meaningful data you will capture, you will also have to think through how end users need to consume that data.
Will your user be presented with metrics, a map, graphs, and charts? Will you use multiple formats? Does the end-user need to take action on the data, either by interacting with the device through a portal or performing a real-world task?
You may find it beneficial to partner with data experts who can help you think through these questions and ultimately create compelling data visualizations that best serve your end user.
8) How Will You Secure Your Data?
Every other week there’s a horror story in the news about a security breach involving an IoT product.
From robotic vacuum cleaners that are secretly spying on their owners to remote attacks from malware shutting down smart cars and power plants, security threats are nearly as prevalent as new IoT devices.
Part of the reason security remains such a large concern is that IoT devices must be secured at several different key points. Manufacturers must secure not only the device itself but also the centralized infrastructure and the user portal.
In the race to join the IoT realm and get your device to market, be sure to prioritize security from the beginning. It’s a lot easier to update software, create new data visualizations, and upgrade your product after launch than it is to rebuild customer trust after a security failure.
9) Will Your Device Have an AI Component?
Technology and data are more valuable when they are actionable—even more so when the customer doesn’t have to take that action. Adding AI to your device is an optimization step that can increase the value of your IoT product exponentially because it enhances the customer experience and drives better decisions.
Can you create a simple rule that troubleshoots your device? Can certain processes be automatic, triggering an AI that removes the end-user from the equation?
The less your customer must do to interact effectively with your IoT product, the more useful the device becomes.
10) Who Will Support and Service Your Device?
Traditionally, manufacturers of devices and service and support technicians have been siloed. This means that most manufacturers who get into IoT devices are new to the traditional support model.
Do you have the resources and tools available for self-service? Do you need to hire new skill sets to support things like carrier problems, portal problems, activation problems, etc.? Or will you need to partner with a support and service provider?
No matter your decision, it’s imperative that you plan on how to handle service and support early in the product development cycle.
11) How Will You Spread the News About Your Product?
Whether it’s for internal team members or for sale to the general public, a meaningful IoT product is useless if it’s collecting dust on the proverbial IT shelf.
- For internal use: Ask for feedback from those who will be using the product before launch, and create excitement around the launch so that team members are incentivized to use the product instead of older, more familiar methods.
- For sale to the public: Have a plan in place for distribution, public relations and coordinated marketing efforts. Make sure all your internal team members are aware of the plan so that messaging is consistent. You know your product has value—help others see that too.
Do You Have a Plan in Place for Continued Development and Innovation?
Once your IoT product is launched, it becomes a living, breathing entity that customers begin interacting with in real-time.
Most manufacturers learn more from customer feedback—both negative and positive—than they learn during the Testing phase of product development. In life after launch, you discover how customers are really using and interacting with your product.
It’s smart to continue to invent and innovate after launch to prevent your product from becoming a relic.
Proper planning makes a world of difference when it comes to IoT. Consideration, preparation, and a well-executed launch strategy will catapult you into the 25% of IoT products that succeed.
Have a successful IoT launch story? We want to hear it! Email your successful IoT Launch story to email@example.com for a chance to be featured on the Kopis Edge Blog.