Device manufacturers wanting market share of the booming Internet of Things (IoT) world have massive uphill challenges in designing, developing and deploying their IoT applications, all while trying to source, integrate, and manage the infrastructure needed behind the scenes to make the applications work.
Before taking on the IoT challenge to launch a connected product or service, it is critical that businesses have a thorough understanding of what key components must be incorporated, how these components interact with each other, and how common integration pitfalls can be avoided. Specifically:
Start with the value definition
Remember, you are looking to bring to market a solution for a known problem. You need to calculate the value equation of the solution launch. Typically it consists of time to market, investment costs and less quantifiable components such as quality and customer experience. Once you get to a point where you know your solution costs you one dollar and the customer is willing to pay you three, things begin to look good, says Ville Ylläsjärvi, chief marketing officer and member of the board, Haltian Oy.
Every company planning an IoT device rollout should also evaluate how much time and costs can be saved by partnering with known specialists and assess the value of avoiding the risks of devices and products failing at customers’ hands after being delivered all over the world.
Service and business design
How to apply uncovered value is step two. Use creative methods to design your business outside in. Think of your customer and try to build your offering around its needs. Define the customer needs and pain points in minute detail and see how your new offering could solve the problem.
On business design, build a picture on how your customer firstly hears from you and also how the solution is delivered to the end customer. Other points to consider include billing, where you make your margins and/or cost savings are made and how the business scales.
Proof of Concept
If possible, build and sell the first solution using readily available devices for a quick proof of concept. By doing so, you will learn a lot about your future IoT business, how pricing works and how customers are reacting to your solution to the problem. This eventually allows you to quantify value.
One good tool for new business evaluation is the “fake it until you make it” process. This means you test the product pricing and value proposition with existing IoT prototyping hardware.
Use rapid prototyping techniques
Having a device or a service to show always brings the discussion deeper towards customer expectations. Prototypes help when collecting feedback from customers, partners and other people and enable you to optimise the offering.
One good tip for making the first sell is to use a functional prototype. Build an IoT device using readily available developer boards to complete the functionality and package everything in a cool 3D printed exterior.
Hardware is hard
It takes time to build even the most simple sensor device and most companies do not have the required competencies and platforms in-house for making commercial grade hardware devices. In this case the smartest strategy is to purchase readily available hardware or hire a design house which has done it all before and knows the drill. Look for a partner that is interested in your solution and don’t make your own hardware if you can source elsewhere.
Choose your IoT platform wisely
The world is full of platforms so make sure the pricing, business model and the functional capabilities of a platform works for your benefit. Think about the whole IoT architecture, and establish what work amounts are needed for getting the service up and running. You need to consider how to integrate devices, backend solutions and analytics.
Leading platforms enable your application almost out-of-box so time and money saved on integration can take your first sales and marketing initiatives a long way.
Make the leap
IoT is an amazing opportunity with blue oceans waiting to be discovered. There are plenty of markets that are currently untapped and value can be found in the strangest of places like valpas.io, which, of all problems in the world, decided to apply IoT to remove the bed bug problem from hotels globally. Its solution includes a connected retrofitted bed-leg containing technology to attract, captivate and eliminate bed bugs and automatically signals the hotel administration.
Valpas, although a simple idea, is built using complex and compact technology, yet it saves hotels vast amounts of money through better visitor experiences, avoids complaints and makes significant savings in costs associated with bed-bug invasion.
If a small enterprise such as Valpas can make the leap and fix the global bed-bug problem, anyone can. It is just a question of speaking to the right experts!
The author of this blog is Ville Ylläsjärvi, chief marketing officer and member of the board, Haltian Oy