Thinking beyond the ‘things’: A key factor for thriving in the Internet of Things

Ryan Lester, director of IoT Strategy, Xively
by LogMeIn

At trade shows across the world, product companies are unveiling a wide range of connected devices in a bid to get a slice of the growing Internet of Things market.

From industrial equipment to sportswear, connected devices are becoming a part of our businesses and everyday lives and there are even more products in the making that will impact us in ways we can’t yet fathom. However many companies’ IoT thought process doesn’t go much beyond connectivity.

It is easy to think the Internet of Things is just about connecting devices to the Internet but it is certainly more than that. While connectivity is one of the cornerstones of IoT, companies that choose to focus entirely on connecting the things are actually missing out on the main benefits of the IoT, says Ryan Lester, director of IoT Strategy, Xively by LogMeIn.

A recent report we released with Forrester revealed that connectivity was the top priority for product companies but less than one-third (29%) were actually using the data gathered to create actionable insights to benefit customers and expand business opportunities. This suggests that there is some work to be done in fine-tuning companies’ approach to IoT and also points to a huge missed opportunity to get the best value out of the Internet of Things.

Connectivity underpins the IoT but it is not the most important reason or purpose for its existence. On the connected product journey, connectivity must serve as a gateway to new experiences and functionality, not a final destination in the journey.

A truly successful connected product should add value across the business. It should lead to a better product and a better understanding of how customers engage with the product. Data gathered from a connected product can enable new interactivity models for the products and provide data to help the company get to know their customers and how they are using the product which will, in turn, help them build a better product.

A connected product should also enable better support in terms of proactive user engagement allowing support teams to use use data generated by the product to remotely to resolve problems quickly and in some cases before they have even been noticed by the customer. Additionally, creating a connected product should also improve the sales cycle for a company. IoT data on how a product is being used can help companies glean cross sell and upsell opportunities t.

The business benefits are easy to see but achieving them is not so easy. With the number of devices and data points increasing daily, one of the biggest challenges is managing the devices and making sense of all the data. Without a way to manage the data, it is essentially useless. This is where Connected Product Management (CPM) comes in, helping companies to navigate this new landscape and helping them to manage the constant communication while ensuring a seamless customer experience across all connected products.

The truth is that the Internet of Things is not really about the things. It is about the new experiences they are able to deliver and how well it can bridge the gap between product companies and customers. Before IoT, product companies had no more than anecdotal information about how customers use (or didn’t use) their product. IoT changes this dramatically, enabling customers and product companies to walk hand in hand and communicate at every stage of the experience.

There are many more benefits that come with IoT but for connected devices to achieve their undoubted potential, product companies must first understand how it can (and will) change the business and think beyond connecting devices to see the bigger picture.

In the increasingly competitive IoT market, there will not be a shortage of devices that perform similar functions and connectivity on its own is not enough of a differentiator. The user experience and the value connected products add will be the main differentiators and product companies that grasp this and act on it will be putting themselves in a great position to reap the dividends of the Internet of Things.

The author of this blog is Ryan Lester, director of IoT Strategy, Xively by LogMeIn

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow

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