Hitting the IoT sweet spot

By Scott Nelson

Chief Product Officer and VP of Products

Digi International

August 15, 2014

Hitting the IoT sweet spot

The game is on! The Economist Intelligence Unit states that within the next five years 96 percent of companies will be using the Internet of Things (I...

The game is on! The Economist Intelligence Unit states that within the next five years 96 percent of companies will be using the Internet of Things (IoT) in some respect. Why aren’t you? The problem is, how do you create a new solution that is not simply based on the last model, but requires you to rethink your business. You must find the right technology to meet your user’s needs that gives you a competitive advantage for business success. You must understand who you are going after – the user and what they will adopt. You need to leverage the right technology at the right time to be competitive.

This is not simple and it takes help to get all the pieces aligned, working together, and deployed in a complete solution that your customers will adopt. To achieve this three key areas to consider are appropriate technology (not the newest), interoperability (now and future), and Make versus Buy (the new approach).

Top 3 technology considerations to hit the IoT sweet spot

  1. Appropriate technology (not the newest) – Technology in IoT is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that there are now an almost unlimited number of technology choices for nearly every problem – radios, networks, protocols, gateways, operating systems, sensors, etc. – and new technologies are added to the mix every week.
    The curse is that the users of IoT solutions don’t care about the technology. To them it is invisible; it has no value in itself. For users, the value is in the experience we create with the technology. So as developers we need to choose the technology that most effectively and reliably creates the expected experience. When we add in the expectations of the business considering the new IoT offering, their investment, their capabilities, and their support infrastructure, our task becomes to find the most appropriate technology for allowing the business to meet user expectations.
  2. Interoperability, now and future – The second part of the curse mentioned above is the rate at which new IoT technologies and offerings are coming to market. This in turn creates opportunities to leverage new networks, new software, and new hardware. But the key to leveraging technologies is interoperability, and this means standards. Thus, as we evaluate technologies that will be incorporated into the solution, we must consider the devices and networks that we want to leverage, as well as the standards (both present and emerging) needed to establish and maintain interoperability. One of the most frequent points of discussion here, for example, is smartphone compatibility and interoperability. The smartphone not only brings a rich application platform for the offering, but also includes multiple network access points that can eliminate the need for infrastructure deployment.
  3. Make versus Buy, the new approach – Finally, we come to development and deployment. Any product development, any new offering creation, executes a series of “Make versus Buy” evaluations and decisions. But when we consider the rate at which IoT technologies are developing and the broad range of interoperability decisions to be made, the Make versus Buy process for development of an IoT offering is different. As we move out of the workshop and prototyping phases into pilot and production, we need to use a “New Make versus Buy” process.
    The New Make versus Buy is more complex in its financial evaluations because costs are no longer one time, and are not even fixed over time. Costs are usage based and evaluated using statistical means. Further, many parts of the IoT solution have Software as a Service (SaaS) or Anything as a Service (XaaS) alternatives. Most of the SaaS supply chain offerings are convertible to hosted platforms, and there are often points in the product life cycle where that conversion will make sense.

Breaking down the pieces and focusing on the complete solution will help you navigate the new challenges that creating an IoT offering presents, and realize opportunity by hitting that spot where technology is applied to meet user needs, thereby creating competitive advantages for business success.

Scott Nelson is Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President Logic PD.

Scott Nelson, LogicPD

My passion is the strategic and operational leadership of high performing teams focused on growing the business by solving hard customer problems. I am a collaborative systems builder with deep business acumen who discovered design thinking early in my career. I build and work with cross functional teams in startups and mid-sized companies pursuing rapid growth through innovation and technology application.

More from Scott