5 Tips for Developing an IoT Product

November 12, 2020 - 8 minutes read

With myriad possibilities for every industry, the Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most exciting technologies of the decade. Even if we thought we knew the full potential of IoT, we’re about to see the most creative IoT applications spring up with the roll-out of 5G all over the world. IoT is just beginning, and many more companies who jump on board will see an increase in revenues and customer insights in the next decade.

For organizations that haven’t embraced IoT yet, we’ve gathered some tips that can guide you in developing an IoT product that works seamlessly for your unique processes and needs.

#1: Don’t Assume You Know Everything

While working with an IoT developer may feel overwhelming due to your lack of IoT domain knowledge, don’t assume you know everything about your business and its customers. There is a lot of unknown information to be uncovered with IoT applications, and it’s important to keep an open mind throughout the entire development process.

If you want more training on the IoT side of things, look for courses to help your team improve their understanding of IoT as it relates to your business. If you’re confused about the direction that the IoT development team is heading towards, don’t be afraid to ask for more clarification!

Not being an expert in IoT and not knowing every single little thing about your business isn’t unusual; it’s actually normal. You know your products best, and you still control your company’s brand and image towards its customers. Take charge of what you can manage while spending some time every week to learn more about each team in your company and the challenges they face on a daily basis. Use this information to inform what kind of IoT product you’re seeking to develop, as well as how it will directly improve the customer experience.

#2: While Planning, Don’t Get Hung Up on Budget

IoT is still a new technology, and it’ll get cheaper as the years go by. But if your competition is implementing IoT applications and seeing marked improvements in their business processes and revenues, your company cannot haggle over budget, especially not at the beginning of the project. According to AVSystem, an IoT development company, over 50% of IoT projects fail to move forward at this stage of project planning.

Fixating too much on the cost of the system means you’re not thinking about what savings it could provide for you down the line. In the best-case scenario, your project gets delayed and your competition keeps pushing forward after your company undergoes lengthy talks about budget.

#3: Consider Manufacturing Processes While Planning

Many businesses have a manufacturing side of operations, and optimizing the industrial end of your business can bring cost and time savings pretty quickly. The manufacturing processes inform the operational, marketing, and retail parts of your business, so cutting the fat on the factory floor can be a great way to dip your toes into the IoT world.

Whether your ideal IoT application keeps an eye on your machinery for early maintenance and upkeep or it tracks the incoming and outgoing shipment times and weights, there are a variety of improvements to be made if you keep looking. If your business has a manufacturing component, make sure you take it into account when you’re planning and prototyping.

#4: Ask for Prototypes While Designing

Any design and development company worth their salt will multiple prototypes of varying fidelity. At the beginning of the planning process, prototypes may look like quick hand-drawn ideas. But as the project progresses into requirements definition and evaluation, higher-fidelity prototypes (even interactive ones) should be shown and tested before moving onto the next stage.

Sure, it’s way cheaper to skip prototyping but don’t let the cost stop you from envisioning exactly what you want with prototypes. Designing interfaces and dashboards can spark some ideas and creativity for the business’s stakeholders, and minimum viable products are a great end-goal for prototyping. While it may feel like the prototyping and evaluation stages are taking a long time, planning the design, features, and interactivity ahead can save much more on development costs and time.

IoT app development

It’s imperative that you show several loyal customers your ideas so you can get valuable feedback to inform the development of the interface. Oren Ezra from Seebo says that prototypes can even “help to identify possible conflict areas of the product related to the operation of a microphone, speaker, and location of the Bluetooth antenna.”

These small details may not feel important during the design and planning stages, but they affect the user experience and can drive away customers if not implemented correctly. This is a great time to iron out nice-to-have and must-have features, as well.

#5: Add Mobile Connectivity While Developing

Wi-Fi is more likely to be hacked, and it’s important that you don’t subject your customers to this level of cybersecurity risk. Developing your IoT application using a cellular connectivity technology like LTE-M1 or LPWA (both of which are low-cost and work seamlessly with battery-powered devices) can bring down energy costs and still get the job done well. London-based market research company Kantar has been testing shopping scanner devices for years using mobile connectivity with success.

Above All, Keep An Open Mind

As you plan, design, and develop your IoT product, you’re going to come across competing products that introduce ideas that you hadn’t thought of before. That’s awesome: write them down to add to your current developing product or for future rounds of feature development.

It’s important to keep an open mind while you jump into IoT because it can help you achieve almost any goal you want to meet. Investing in emerging technologies and keeping an eye out for new ideas can elevate your company from the competition, and your customers will definitely notice.

Have you developed an IoT product for your business? How was the process for you and your team? What would you improve if you could do it all over again? As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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