The lifecycle of IoT products

In recent years I have participated in the full lifecycles of IoT products—bringing them to smithmarket, selling them, deploying them. In this process I've gained a number of useful insights, but, of course, insight is only useful when shared. So here goes…

In many cases the IoT products being presented are solutions that no one has seen before. (Consider this comment from a colleague of mine: "In the past five years this industry has seen ten times the change it had seen in the previous 20 years.") The rate of change and technological innovation in select markets moves at a different pace than is seen in the typical innovation cycles for computers and software. I know that simply churning out more features and more functions to the cloud doth not more sales make. 

Here's my advice: look at things from the perspective of the market you are addressing. Ask questions. "What was the last Earth-changing innovation that took place in this industry?" "How long did it take to move from early adoption to the meaty part of the bell curve?"

IoT as a change agent

In the mature markets (where I focus) I've found that many people are apprehensive about adopting new technology. Before selling, education needs to be tailored and delivered. Some of the new capabilities gained from IoT, although interesting, can be scary to the uninitiated.

I have witnessed this apprehension in users. They wonder if this new technology will put them out of a job. Or if it will add to their workload. I often hear how “the user is not the check-writer.”

That may be the case, but I will tell you that I've found that the users are essential to your success. 

“Nice to have” or “Must have”?

Before launching the next new sensor or wireless controller into the world, I suggest a thorough market-validation process and a good amount of Lean Design to answer important questions:

"Is this a solution looking for a problem, or the other way around?"

"What else can stall the rate of adoption?"

Oftentimes there are too many options--so many ways to get the word out and market the latest solutions. This can lead to too few decisions. In the B2B world, overwhelmed stagnation can be an unintended consequence.

From my experience, unless there is a clear line that ties your solution to dollars saved, or generation that can actually be validated, it is just noise.