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IoT: Think beyond the ‘things’

For all the hype, the internet of things (IoT) is also very real and will soon impact nearly every aspect of our lives. However, there tends to be a misconception that the way to win the IoT is to invent the newest, life-changing IoT-enabled gadget.

The truth is that the IoT is really not about the things. It’s about transforming business, deepening customer relationships, enriching support levels, and increasing the overall interactions businesses have with both their product and their customer. And when it comes to new offerings, it’s far more about the experience they deliver.

The true power of the IoT comes not from simply connecting products, which frankly is where many companies focus, but instead from leveraging the data these connected “things” create.

Traditional product companies, notably discrete manufacturers, have the disadvantage of not really knowing who their customers are and, potentially worse, having almost no real-world understanding of how their products are ultimately used.

Their products are sold through a brick-and-mortar store or a third-party site and once the product leaves the warehouse, they have little visibility into who purchased that product and how it is used.

Having a connected product dramatically changes this model and, even more importantly, the customer experience. A connected product provides companies with the ability to connect directly to their customer and understand how their product is being used, or not. This information is extremely valuable for both the company and the customer.

Connected Product Management helps companies connect products securely, manage those products and the data they produce, and reimagine how they engage with their customers

IoT allows companies to walk hand in hand with their customers and hear their voice through the product. Each step of their journey provides more insight into customer engagement with the brand. From first impressions to everyday use and service issues, the company is with the customer every step of the way. This creates the opportunity for greater user satisfaction and a better brand experience. For example, when something goes awry the company can be the first to know and the first to act, so it can turn a potentially upset customer into a brand ambassador.

The business benefit feels obvious now, but it’s not easy to achieve. The trick for companies developing connected products won’t be just connecting them to give them a voice, but also to give that voice meaning. Determining how to untangle and distill all the information is a challenge companies have never faced before. How do you manage the millions or billions of data points? How do you sift through the noise to generate actionable insight? How do you meet customer demands and always-on expectations?

That’s where Connected Product Management (CPM) comes in. As companies embrace IoT, they are faced with the challenge of establishing and then managing relationships between devices, organisations and users. This is CPM. It helps companies connect products securely, manage those products and the data they produce, and reimagine how they engage with their customers.

The information CPM provides can help companies optimise business process and product development, market more effectively to the customers who are using their product, and develop new revenue streams through additional services. By providing the information, companies will be able to give customers a more personalised experience, quicker resolution of support issues and new, targeted service offerings. The IoT gives products a voice and they have a lot to say.

So many companies head into the unknown world of IoT on their own. The do-it-yourself model has proven to be difficult or unachievable, as most traditional product companies do not have a core competency in connecting and managing IoT-enabled products. Finding the right partners makes this process significantly easier.

As more IoT products hit the market faster, and become more prevalent, customers will embrace the benefits of IoT and the experience that comes with it. As those benefits become more tangible, adoption will increase and that is where we really see the IoT become mainstream.

The IoT is definitely one of the most exciting technological breakthroughs of our time. It has the ability to change the way we work, live and play. My advice to all product companies looking to get in on the IoT is to take a step back and think about the project beyond the connected device.  See the big picture. Understand how a connected product will change the business. Be prepared for the challenges. Be excited for the rewards. And remember – it’s not all about the things, it’s about the experiences.

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