While the niche certainly appears ripe and the consumer demand is growing steadily, not all businesses feel eager to join the bandwagon early on. Unique product development challenges come as the main entry barrier.
Naveen Joshi, Director of Allerin – a software development company, which specializes in developing IoT product strategies and dedicated frameworks – shares the key considerations all companies should assess before tapping into this niche.
Assess the Product Value for the End Customer
Whether it is a universal remote controller for multiple gadgets, a thermostat or a smart fridge, you need to clearly justify the value a customer will get from this gadget. IoT products tend to cost more compared to the “less smart” counterparts mainly due to the added software and hardware stack that goes within them.
The best way is to start with an MVP and validate your product idea within the community either by doing a series of market researchers or by running it with some focus groups directly.
Make sure the value of your product is easy to grasp and can be broken down into one-two short sentences e.g. “A fridge that will remind you when it’s time to re-stock!”
Start Early on Compliances
Most consumer-oriented products, especially hardware, are required to get compliance certifications before getting to the market.
Does your smart gadget has to be FCC, WEEE or California Prop 65 compliant? Will you have more than two batteries in your gadget (meaning you'll need an IATA battery handling label for every box? How will you highlight your radio compliance IDs on your product and packaging?
These are the not so small things you should deal with in advance.
Decide How You Plan to Tackle IoT Interoperability Issues
One of the biggest challenges for the IoT industry is the lack of common standards among manufacturers, which allow different devices to connect and work seamlessly with one another.
Currently, the most common issues are:
- The lack of ability to test APIs using common approaches.
- The inability to receive and push information from devices using the same interface.
- Using third-party securing software poses major challenges.
- The lack of connectivity options when it comes to monitoring and managing devices using a single controller.
Think in advance how you plan to educate those buyers wishing to create a smart home ecosystem while using gadgets from different IoT manufacturers.
Embrace the Cloud Early On
It goes without saying that IoT infrastructure is complicated. As you scale, the amount od data will grow proportionally. Setting up in-house data centers may be a costly and unnecessary route for your business. That’s where the cloud rolls in with their competitive pricing.
However, you need to make sure that your services will run the same on your development machine as they do in production. Docker container software is a great helper in this case. Containers are designed to run independently on the hosts, where they were placed and, hence, ensuring you consistency from to testing, to development and to final production. Running containers in the cloud is simple as well as there are a number of open-source tools available to handle that.
Be Mindful of Costs
IoT product development budgets require two separate lines – one for building the physical object with all the electronics and the second for the products “smarts” aka the coding.
The costs of hardware parts tend to fluctuate rather often, so before rushing into development make sure you’ve validated your product concept, tested it with an actual target audience and refined the list of essential features to the bare minimum as an MVP is usually the best route to go with IoT.