Is your team on track to deliver what your customers are expecting from your connected product system? Your solution should provide clear business outcomes – Asset Management, Workflow Integration, Predictive Maintenance, and Yield Optimization. Why do so many smart teams fail to deliver on these goals? We’ve been helping Fortune 1000 companies deliver successful industrial IoT solutions for nearly a decade using an open system approach and have identified clear organizational patterns that reliably determine whether or not your solution will deliver value for your customers and drive enduring enterprise revenue.
Successful teams build intelligence and buy infrastructure
The value of industrial IoT systems comes from the data collected and how you use it to improve your business (either directly or through your customer’s business). Time spent building parts that don’t directly differentiate your connected product from your competitor’s offering adds cost and risk to your project without benefit. We’ve seen teams replicate cloud components like storage, authentication, and monitoring mechanisms rather than leveraging what developers at Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have already built. You’re not a storage, authentication, or monitoring company (you are an equipment manufacturer) and they’re going to iterate faster than you in these areas. A more common error made by enterprise innovation teams is rolling your own functional blocks directly on top of these cloud primitives. User Management, Reporting, Notifications, and Asset Lifecycle are a few examples of common challenges already solved by dedicated software vendors, and are similarly available for your immediate use like other cloud infrastructure.
Teams that deliver successful IoT solutions focus above the cloud, beyond the infrastructure complexity that others have already solved. These teams start building intelligence for generating insights, where the value is, right out of the gate using flexible, best of breed infrastructure that is already collecting, cleaning, and processing data for their enterprise applications to consume. You don’t need to build your own kitchen to make a delicious sandwich.
If your team is trying to build IoT infrastructure while your competitors are already out there delivering business outcomes, they will take your customers and lock you out of the market.
Build only where you’re adding value for your customers.
Buy. Your. Infrastructure.
Design for Agility and Control
This is about future-proofing your system and protecting your data.
To get started, your solution requires configurations and rules specific to your business. Each asset must be modeled for the system to make sense of its signals. Access permissions are set for various user roles. Thresholds and alerts are configured, and integrations connect with other enterprise systems, enabling an initial pilot program.
Now what happens when you want to add another class of machines? What if your enterprise CRM changes, or you customer wants to integrate your system with their service center systems? How will you add new user roles and keep track of which sensors and parts are in which machines, and where those machines are located as these and other factors shift over time? This complexity is inherent to all industrial IoT systems and is why many systems become unreliable in production or can’t be used outside the handful of scenarios and machines that were part of the pilot.
This is a frequent outcome when equipment makers hire mobile app development shops to build their connected product system. We call this the App Trap, where your “solution” is just one big application with intertwining business logic, data policies, and user interfaces. You can’t update one without impacting the others, making changes costly and unpredictable. You may still control your data, but the total value you can produce for your customers is quite literally hard-coded into the system.
Some equipment makers choose proprietary SaaS platforms which let them to start quickly, but inside a ready-to-go walled garden. This places your data, and your customer’s data, inside a system that you don’t control. What if a new business opportunity requires a feature or integration that is not currently offered? The SaaS platform has a roadmap, but you don’t control this either. It may be your equipment, but it’s their system.
Neither the mobile app “system” nor the proprietary SaaS platform let you predict the cost of taking advantage of new business opportunities. It’s impossible to tell ahead of time what each change will cost in the monolithic application due to engineering complexity, and future monthly charges for new features are unpredictable (if available at all) in the SaaS solution. If your system isn’t agile enough to adapt as your business evolves or you don’t control the capabilities or the costs (or your data), you don’t have a future-proof solution or a long-term connected product business model.
Control your data. Control your system. Control your business.
IoT is Not an Engineering Problem
Don’t let it become one. Software innovation from public cloud providers not only outpaces what your engineers can come up with, it’s moving faster than they can keep up with. Your solution needs the agility to leverage new services as they become available, while providing a stable foundation for your existing enterprise systems and devices already in the field. This is what we mean by an open system approach to connected product solution development. Trying to build something from scratch yourself or through a consultancy adds risk and time for no added value to your customers. Adopting a proprietary SaaS platform may get you started quickly but puts them in control of your data and your destiny. An open system approach lets you leverage the innovation power of the entire software industry and focus directly on delivering business outcomes for your customers.