Internet of Things

3 Steps for Successfully Joining the IoT Revolution

The industrial revolution, the digital revolution, now the IoT revolution. They all have something in common. Early adopters and investors reaped the benefits and buried their competition.

There is no arguing that the modern business landscape demands accessible digital experiences that connect consumers to a company's products, brand and business strategies. Despite the unlimited potential for increasing the value proposition presented by non-connected brands, the world of IoT remains intimidating for many companies. The steps outlined below reflect what I have learned working with leaders in the IoT marketspace.

1. Start!

Obvious, right? It is startling however, the number of companies waiting for their competition to lay the IoT groundwork in their respected industries. Historically, being the first brand to successfully connect with consumers provides an insurmountable advantage over the competition, and it is an opportunity all too often given away because of fear. In my experience, what prevents most companies from diving into the IoT pool is their inability to identify a clear starting-point. This often stems from a company's need to adjust their development approach as they transition to crafting connected products.

Software can be intimidating as you truly can do anything you dream up. This however, can propagate the lack of clarity described above. Traditionally, a physical product with a long life-cycle needs to be designed to survive many unforeseen changes in a marketspace. Factor-in the associated tooling and manufacturing costs and it is easy to understand why often times the minimally viable feature set for a product is immensely complex. Too many companies are carrying this mindset over to their IoT projects and not recognizing one of software's greatest benefits - agility. Software provides the ability to update products at any moment to meet new user demands, or to stay ahead of the competition's next entry into the market. By properly utilizing and staging software releases, companies can focus on designing for need, rather than projected concerns. That brings me to my next tip.

2. Design for Need

As mentioned above, connected software can accomplish just about anything your heart desires, but that doesn't mean it should. Research what you and/or your customers need. It is really that simple. Define what data is important, and what is the best way to create a meaningful experience around those metrics. Over-designing a connected software application can be as destructive to a brand as being late to market.

Today's consumers expect immediate response/recognition and intuitive functionality. If they need to think too hard, or dig too deep into your software application to achieve their primary goals they won't use it. Through sound design research and wireframe navigation planning it becomes easy to identify and implement a minimally-viable feature set that is intuitive and purposeful. Apply an impactful art direction to that system and you have a connected software application that will immediately resonate with users.

3. Unify Your Experience

Disjointed connected experiences leave consumers frustrated and they open the door for your competition. Connected software applications need to offer value above all, but they also need to construct an emotional connection between users and product while building brand-loyalty. Physical products and their connected applications should serve as extensions of each other, not separate entities. They must work cohesively to build a singular experience that customers want more of. If your connected system improves and simplifies the lives of your consumer base, they will be loyal, and they will be hungry for your next-generation offerings.

Where many companies stumble in their quest for creating a unified experience is their utilization of compartmentalized teams. They have internal and/or external software teams, engineering teams, industrial design teams, UX designers, etc. all working in their own bubbles. To create a unified experience, you need to unify your development team. At i3 for example, our IoT Lab consists of all the above disciplines (and more) working collaboratively to achieve holistic experiences. Nothing is passed ‘over the fence'. We let the needs of users drive our development decisions, with each discipline supporting the others to create a connected experience that takes into account each consumer touch-point.

The IoT world can be overwhelming and intimidating, but by following the tips presented you can increase your likelihood of success. The connected lifestyle is here to stay and everyone must adapt their business and development strategies to better serve the evolving demands of consumers.