Three reasons why products need OTA

OTA (over-the-air update) functionality is one of the most sought after features in the connected space. Getting this right, will ensure ongoing success for IoT-enabled products from a revenue, customer satisfaction and security perspective. Here are the three reasons why smart products need to have OTA :

1. Improved service

Service to users has already improved through IoT. Most connected products offer remote access as their key selling point. Many companies now also collect data from devices to determine usage stats and service needs. These features are great, but somewhat stagnant. They don’t evolve over time or change the attributes of the product, says Anatoly Lebedev is the CEO and co-founder of Irish company Cesanta.

OTA is what takes it to the next level. The ability to push upgrades and new features to a product allow it to evolve over time. Further, many malfunctions can be addressed on a 1:1 or 1:many level.

Think of the worst case scenario; a full product recall on account of a software bug. The PR is a nightmare, the logistics costly. OTA means solving the problem by pushing an upgrade. No logistics, a positive story to tell.

The automotive industry makes a strong case for 1:1 servicing. Software components nearly outweigh hardware within a car and this opens the door to a variety of faults that can only be fixed via upgrades. OTA can eliminate trips to mechanics for these kind of software fixes.

If customer loyalty and satisfaction are important to the business, then OTA delivers.

2. Additional revenue streams

The IoT has opened the doors for many manufacturers to produce new versions of their existing products; just smart. This drives part of the the $1.1 trillion value-add expected to be delivered by IoT by 2020. Why not add to this?

Anatoly_headshot
Anatoly Lebedev, CEO and co-founder, Cesanta

The possibilities for connectivity and functionality are limited by our imagination. Arguably the technology is there. Based on this thinking, product ideas will continuously evolve and additional offers can be made to existing products. So instead of investing in attracting new customers, OTA allows you to offer paid upgrades to existing customers. Upselling and cross-selling will become an integral part and benefit of IoT to any business.

3. Security standards

Security is probably the largest obstacle to the IoT. Companies and users are fearful of data theft and unwanted third party control over connected devices. While every smart product should have security features built in at the current standard, we all know that hackers never sleep. As standards are broken, smart products need to have the ability to receive security upgrades fast and in a non-disruptive manner for the consumer. The value of any product can be increased by the promise of the highest security standards at all times. OTA enables this.

OTA Development options

Over-the- air functionality development should be part of smart product design. However, any engineer will testify to the fact that embedded development in itself is complex and OTA adds an additional layer to the complexity.

As part of the development roadmap, OTA should be factored in from a development time and cost perspective.

Strong in-house development teams will be able to tackle this and of course IoT platform providers should offer this. Ensure that if you are considering an external solution, that OTA is a running feature as part of the package.

The author of this blog is Anatoly Lebedev, CEO and Co-Founder of Irish company Cesanta.

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