By April Bertram
Business Development Director
The new world of data is vastly different from anything we have known and will continue to evolve at a record pace. The Internet of Things (IoT) has a promising future and will play a significant role in this evolution. While having access to all of this data is exciting, there are a number of complexities that come with new technology. To develop value-driven IoT solutions, you must think differently about how you bring products to market. Asking these five key questions will be crucial to successful and profitable engagement in the world of IoT:
- What is the problem you are trying to solve? When developing an IoT solution or any product for that matter, you need to start at the same place and understand what problem you are trying to solve. Once you have a hypothesis of the problem and have validated you are solving the right problem, then you can begin to develop and refine a solution. Market intimacy will be necessary to achieve problem-solution fit. The value proposition canvas is a great tool to help facilitate this process.
- What data do you need to deliver to solve the problem and how can you present the data in a meaningful way? Many solutions in the market today are standalone solutions requiring customers to manage multiple apps and data sources to solve a broader problem. When developing an IoT solution, you should be thinking more broadly about how your interface might integrate into an existing platform or how you might develop a platform for others to use as an integration point. The goal with these new streams of data is to help simplify, not create additional complexities. Always test and iterate concepts with your customers before doing any significant development.
- What needs to be coupled with the delivery of data to ensure behavior change to solve the problem at hand? Data by itself can create more complexity, unless you also design a solution that helps customers apply the data to solve the problem. All too often, products are launched with this claim of solving a problem. Yet, they end up creating complexity by adding more steps in a process or more time to analyze the data. They don’t effectively solve the customer’s problem, but exasperate it. Consider advanced analytics to help visualize data or services to help your customers understand how to modify behaviors and processes with the data.
- Have you built enough security measures into your IoT solution and are you ready to partner with your customers to ensure the right security plans are in place? Security is becoming a larger concern. We have already seen several examples of corporate systems being compromised from weaknesses in smart building control systems. Up until now, many IT departments have been concerned with the security of moving to the cloud and now have to think about the perimeter. This creates a different kind of risk that needs to be managed. As a developer, security prompts need to be designed into multiple layers of the IoT solution.
It is also important to ensure that your customers are asking the right questions when installing and integrating multiple control systems. The world is moving to IoT environments and your customers need to be comfortable with this evolution, no matter how risky it seems. Devices that offer data will be everywhere. In order to ensure market growth and penetration, your role will be not only to sell the IoT solution, but to help users understand how to deploy multiple connected devices and provide security with broader distributed access.
- What role will you play in an IoT ecosystem? Are you an orchestrator of an ecosystem or do you simply act as a participant and contributor of value in the ecosystem? Start by mapping the ecosystem as it exists today and understand the key players and their roles. Decide what role your company and solution will play. You may determine that the ecosystem requires collaboration with others in and outside the industry…and even competitors. In fact, in this new frontier, you may be the first to develop an ecosystem in your given industry. Know that this will take time, but if done right, could deliver the most value for your customer. Collaboration will be a critical capability in determining success.
Connecting people with their physical and digital environments will be a requirement in the future. Most importantly, development of IoT solutions must solve a problem and help individuals and businesses change behaviors to solve the problem – or no value will be delivered. Partner with your customers and other key players in the ecosystem to help ensure faster market adoption and quicker return on investment.
April Bertram is the Business Development Director of SmartLink Solutions at GOJO Industries. April joined GOJO in 2002 to lead healthcare product development efforts. Since then, she has reinvented the GOJO innovation process, from the front end of innovation, to market and product development, and strategic portfolio management. Most recently, April was tasked with creating new IoT business models in healthcare and other core vertical GOJO markets.
Prior to her role at GOJO Industries, April was a small business owner and served in Product and Market Development for market leading brands, Hygenic Corporation (TherabandTM and Biofreeze®), GE Lighting and CompuServe Network Services/UUNet.