The Internet of Things (IoT) has opened up a whole new level of product design and interaction. Anything that can be connected to the cloud, inevitably will be. But that doesn’t always mean it should be.
As we’ve seen in everything from the reinvention of the garage door opener to dirty diaper notifications, consumer-facing businesses are diving deep into interconnected products, often without fully understanding the value those connections add. In some cases, it seems a crucial question remained unanswered during the design phase.
Asking “why not?” might be a valid reason to explore a product’s feasibility, but it’s a flimsy argument on which to base an entire product line. When it comes to developing truly stand-out products, the question of “why?” is incredibly powerful. It opens up a world of possibilities, and cuts through excess noise. Why is an unbiased vehicle moving us toward the essential.
With “why not?” We find solutions to problems that may not even exist. With “why?” we find problems that can be solved with scalable solutions. Here are three of the most important whys we can ask in developing items for the IoT.
Delightful products are not going to create more problems than they solve. Along with solutions, they offer a meaningful experience that a user can appreciate as valuable. But for someone to take interest in manufacturing those products, they also need to fit into a sustainable plan.
DornerWorks has handled many IoT projects, and when clients come to us asking why they should connect their next idea to the cloud, our experience in embedded engineering becomes a valuable resource in making that decision, collaborating through development, and launching a successful product. We’re no strangers to experimentation or inventive ideas, as evidenced by previous projects, nor do we shy away from asking, why?
Product managers should consider the following areas when asking the same question.
Added value – You can improve the value of products with new features, or create entirely new product categories.
Actionable data – Data gathering opportunities can constantly improve your smart products and process.
Support – Customer support will be able to remotely identify issues (both unique and systemic) and even provide assistance over the internet, helping a company avoid recalls.
Subscription models – IoT provides avenues for additional, recurring revenue with advanced online features and software as a service (SaaS) models.
Streamlined maintenance – Self-test features and smart—and remote—diagnostics to help you fix bugs or easily add new features without maintenance calls.
Problem solving – Solving complex problems with AI can give you a huge leg up on the competition.
New markets – Younger, more connected generations prefer connected devices and will select them more often.
Low risk – There are many companies that know what they are doing when it comes to IoT security; it’s nothing to fear.
Low cost – Component prices are coming down, and connected embedded solutions are as cost effective as ever, meaning connectivity can be added at low size, weight, and power (SWaP) cost as well.
There are few reaches of the world still segregated from wireless connectivity, all the more reason for those considering IoT integrated products. The possibilities are not limited to those who sell physical devices, either. Progressive Insurance, for example, has started offering potentially lower rates for clients who connect a small monitoring device to their vehicles, sending updates on the motorists’ driving habits. The insurance company considers when and how the vehicle is used, weighing discounts against the insights from that data.
The automotive space is rife with further opportunities for the IoT. Driverless cars are already here, and interconnected city infrastructures are on the rise. Research and advisory organization Gartner predicts that more than 250 million vehicles will be connected globally by the end of the decade, each relying on a greater number of products, and consumer expenditure. Industry, health care, aerospace, and of course, consumer segments, are also being dramatically transformed by such technology, and DornerWorks has a number of successful case studies in each.
If you’ve ever considered integrating the IoT into your design, asked yourself why, or even why not, contact DornerWorks and let us help expand that discussion. We will collaborate with you on your project, and guide your ideas to a successful launch.