It’s been almost a decade since we first heard, “there’s an app for that.” Since 2007, technology has evolved to the point where there’s now a connected device for that as well. Apps have moved beyond our phones and into seemingly everything we interact with and all around us are Internet-connected devices for just about anything. The question is; should there be a connected device for everything?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating a digital gold rush. Businesses see the success stories and are fighting tooth and nail to capitalize on the trend. Before you grab your gold pan, you need to stop and consider what your organization is trying to accomplish. Consider the sage advice from Jurassic Park’s Dr. Ian Malcolm:
“Fools rush in” can apply to these eager early adopters in the world of IoT. While missteps won’t put you on a velociraptor’s dinner menu, they can spell extinction for your product. Don’t rush in. Let’s investigate how you can best think before you act. Deciding whether or not you should create connected products comes down to answering a few fundamental questions:
What is my business going to gain from this?
Your business should drive the product. How will the data, customer interactions and experiences benefit your organizational goals? Your design can be full of data-collection capabilities, but if it’s not gathering valuable information, you’re only taking up storage space. To be successful, you must align the product to your business plan, and the data you collect should provide insight to meet these objectives. Don’t let the product drive your business. Let the business needs drive the necessity for connectivity.
How will my users benefit from the device?
Let’s get a little philosophical. If a device is connected but no one is using it, is the product actually connected? Users drive the information you need to create IoT success over the long haul. They are the ones using the product every day and filling your coffers with valuable insights. If they decide the product is not worth their time, they stop and take their data with them. You need to devise a strategy to make this device part of a user’s routine. The product is important to getting their work done or making their lives easier. UI is the obvious starting point, but you should also consider how to incentivize users to come back.
What kind of user insights can I gain?
We’ve established that the data you collect is critical for meeting your organization’s unique goals. This data is also important for steering how you interact with users. You collect user information to achieve your business goals, but you also collect this information to improve how users interact with your product and business. Having the tools in place to collect this information is just the start. Making sure you have data analytic tools to analyze the data and execute data-driven decisions is crucial to the success of your connected device strategy.
Are my IoT capabilities scalable?
The vast majority of product design teams include experienced mechanical and electrical designers and engineers who know the approaches needed to deliver. Adding IoT is akin to introducing an alien technology into the mix. Connected devices add another layer of complexity for teams already strapped for resources. These teams have their own jobs to complete and, in many cases, might not have the level of familiarity with IoT to produce an end product that will drive your business goals. You must have the means to ensure your product can scale when it takes off.
This is where the SOLIDWORKS IoT ecosystem comes into play. We’ve recently announced partnerships with best-in-class organizations to take complexity out of the connected product design process. This ecosystem approach is split into three parts: design and build, connect and manage, and analyze and automate. SOLIDWORKS is the first prong. We have established a pedigree for providing the top design tools on the market. Our IoT partner Xively is a leader in transforming devices into connected devices. The company provides a connected product management solution that guides you through product launch and everyday management. The final IoT ecosystem piece is NetVibes, which enables you to analyze and act on the data you’re gathering.
It takes a village to create a connected device. SOLIDWORKS and its partners are ready to assist in connecting your product to the world. So if you answered “yes” to whether or not you should, congratulations; you’ve taken your first step into the IoT.
Interested in learning more about SOLIDWORKS and IoT design? Watch this 22-minute webinar to hear SOLIDWORKS user SureFlap discuss how the company revamped its products, grew its business and met new market demands through smart IoT design. Click here to watch the webinar!