So, the developers need to ensure that all conversations taking place between devices are secure, and cannot be accessed without permissions. Ensuring device, data security and user privacy is sacrosanct.
Below are eight top things start-ups need to consider if they want to succeed in IoT:
1) 360 view of the business: IoT is an exciting field for developers as there is a lot of opportunity to innovate and create new products. Product development has its own nuances which include channels, distribution, reverse logistics, repair vs. replace etc. Developers with software or mobile application background would do well to study the hardware supply chain, learn and take advice from mentors. Not to mention, also focus on non-technical domains like marketing, which are crucial to the success of the product.
2) Customer comes first: A startup which makes a me-too product is not likely to succeed. As expressed by the Innovation Guru Clay Christensen, “In order for a startup company to succeed, almost always they need to either create a new market where there wasn’t one before, or find a way to be more profitably serving the least attractive customers of existing markets; if a start-up’s ambition is to beat well established incumbents by building a better mousetrap, their odds of success are extremely low”.”1 The overall customer experience has to be defined first.
3) Being mindful of the purpose: There are three kinds of IoT products that are being created currently. The first category includes basic products that offer information support e.g. Wi-Fi only connection points to send or receive information to another device. More advanced solutions allow remote monitoring and operation and use of sensors. And the most mature solutions offer organisations insights into how to improve their performance, productivity, cost, manufacturing or supply efficiencies etc.
It should be clear why one needs to create a “Smart product”. Just because you have the capability to integrate a sensor or controller in a device doesn’t mean you should. McKinsey research reveals that companies currently underutilize most of the IoT data they collect. For instance, one oil rig with 30,000 sensors examines only 1 percent of the data collected because it uses the information primarily to detect and control anomalies, ignoring its greatest value, which involves supporting optimization and prediction activities.
4) Ability to integrate well with third party products: The integration of connected products and sensor data with third-party solutions enables organizations to enhance the value of their IoT solutions. By integrating the service with larger platforms, organizations stand to tap into a larger ecosystem of services that can significantly enhance the customer experience. Similarly, encouraging developers to work with your hardware and software platforms to create solutions is a useful way to enhance and grow the business. One way is to think of how one can be a participant in a data marketplace and create value.
5) Partnerships: Collaborating with suitable partners can help advance the process of product development and production. Partnering with large companies can offer great benefits such as access to infrastructure, field expertise as well as insights into growing a business. Selecting the right design and supply chain partners often make all the difference between a dud and a star hardware product.
6) Knowledge of managing intellectual properties: While strategic partnerships can provide a great boost to the business, start-ups need to be proficient in managing and protecting their assets, especially to protect themselves during the experimentation and operations set-up stages of innovation.
7) Building a sustainable model: A startup is defined as an ‘organisation designed to find a rapidly scalable business model’. IoT products in India are expected to grow to several billion units and we will see the rise and fall of several start-ups during this period. Only the ones that are able to envision new services that can scale rapidly as well as develop successful commercial business models with constant inflow of revenue will survive in the end.
While hardware is a crucial element for IoT, it should not be the only focus. Rather than adopting a unit sales model, one needs to go beyond and ask questions like “What is the unique business value? Is there an opportunity to give away the device and monetize data? Is there any opportunity to go B2B2C rather than B2C?”
8) Have a vision: As the concept of start-ups gains pace, the phenomenon is being associated more with founding a company rather than building it. In order to really succeed, a startup needs to first develop a wholesome vision about what the venture stands for and have a clear strategy in place on how to achieve this vision. Ensure the basics are in place e.g., Product development with Agile methodology, supply chain best practices, lean startup techniques, among others. Also, all team members from developers to UI/UX should share the same vision.
There is a huge opportunity for startup and large corporations in the IoT market. However, enterprises big and small, though keen to adopt new technology, are facing multiple challenges like long engineering cycles, constant coping with technology shifts, technology commercialization and the need for driving constant innovation. Only those that provide a comprehensive IoT vision keeping in mind the value they offer will be able to make a success of their efforts and thrive in the years to come.
As Head of MediaTek labs ( India) Ashish leads a team in the region for professional developers and technical partner relationships, community engagement, business development, ecosystem evangelism, go-to-market planning & execution, web and event-based marketing outreach. He is a well-connected leader with expertise in business development and partner relationships in wearables/ IOT Mobile, Telco, IT/Tech, with India and APAC experience. He is also a start-up advisor and mentor at an Indo-Canadian accelerator – Zonestartups India, currently advising start-ups.