More and more often, the topic of the “Internet of Things” (IoT) pops up in the news, in popular culture, or in business settings. In a nutshell, IoT technology provides the means to acquire data from devices used by all of us in our daily lives, connect these devices to the Internet, communicate the data to a cloud server, and enable the use of data analytics to determine what is going on in the field. Frequently, people assume that the IoT pertains to big companies that are involved in large scale monitoring and control of big industries such as oil and gas, manufacturing, energy production, etc.
However, as IoT technology becomes cheaper and more pervasive, an argument can be made for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of other industrial and consumer products to consider inclusion of IoT technology in the things that they sell.
As an example, we are currently engaged with companies that are developing products that will have IoT interactivity in areas as diverse as:
- Consumer irrigation systems
- Home automation
Obviously, this is just a small sampling of the types of products that could benefit from the IoT, but it illustrates how diverse the markets are that can benefit by IoT inclusion. But the question is — why should your company consider adding this technology to your product line?
From a business standpoint, ask yourself the following:
- Would my organization benefit from knowing how, when, where, and who was using each and every device that we produce?
- Could my product benefit from the ability to be monitored or controlled from a smartphone?
- Could my organization benefit by knowing our most frequent point of failure in our product while it is operating in the field?
- Could my product benefit from having the ability to be remotely diagnosed, with the additional ability to solve issues remotely?
- Could my product be extended into new markets / channels by having IoT connectivity?
In addition, consider for a moment the additional value to your customers that an IoT-enabled version of your product would bring:
- Instantly, your device becomes state-of-the -art — a tremendous marketing advantage over your competition. Even for products that have been in the market for a while, the addition of IoT technology can give you a sudden and concrete advantage over your non-IoT competitors
- The addition of new functionality — the ability to know where the device is, to remotely control the product, to add new features to the product, and to provide integration with other products/services
- Interaction with other products the consumer may already own — this is especially true in home automation situations or with connection to a smartphone
Lastly, IoT technology creates tremendous value for you as an OEM:
- Demographic information about your user — how often do they use your product? And for how long? What is the most frequently used feature in your product? These are just some examples of what you can learn from an IoT-enabled product
- Manufacturing / quality benchmarks — time between failure, time to failure, and other common QA measurements can easily be derived from the data provided by products that are supplying data to an IoT cloud
- Marketing — establishing a direct point of contact to your customers. Target specific messaging based on product usage, etc.
The IoT can add tremendous value to your existing product line by giving it new purpose, new capability, and new value to your organization. Even starting with a modest goal (one of two of the ideas presented above) may provide the spark needed to energize your existing product lines. And for new products — IoT consideration should be near the top of your market requirements list.