IoT Knowledge Center
Analysis of IoT Product Management
With the IoT gaining popularity, more applications are being implemented to reap the benefits of this technology. The development and implementation of IoT products are challenging. Managing IoT products is more complex when compared to non-connected products.
- Popular IoT products:
- Amazon Echo
- Smart Irrigation systems for fields
- Connected healthcare devices
- Self-driving cars
- Smart Locks
- Smart energy grid
- Control and monitoring systems for manufacturing
Managing an IoT architecture encompasses the management of different cyber-physical systems. Networking software, Cloud software, API, front-end applications, and embedded software must be integrated to keep the product functioning well. Each component must be carefully understood. There are more people involved in the system, starting from installation and deployment to operations, etc. Developing an IoT product is often the collaboration between many components that form the ecosystem. Due diligence must be employed on the safety of the entire system. The chances of a system attack are higher as there are more layers of the IoT technology stack.
Besides, a compromised IoT device can wreak havoc on the entire system. It can have disastrous consequences. Each IoT product has several layers of technology, referred to as stacks. These stacks are:
1. Device hardware
Devices are the ‘things’ in the phrase ‘Internet of Things’. Devices are the primary link between the physical and digital systems. The devices collect data through sensors embedded within them. Managing an IoT device involves overseeing its reliability, useful lifespan, deployment, and managing its costs.
2. Device Software
The device software is what activates a particular device and turns it into a data-collecting device. Based on the kind of software embedded, a device can run many or single applications. The data collected from the device sensors must be stored, analyzed, and controlled.
Communications encompass the various ways in which the device will communicate or exchange information with other devices or networks. The communications layer involves hardware devices as well as software protocols. An important aspect of the IoT management role includes selecting and managing the communication protocol; be it 4G, 5G, WAN or Wi-Fi, etc.
4. Cloud platform
The Cloud serves as the fulcrum for the entire IoT system. The Cloud is where critical data is stored. IoT product management involves ensuring the scalability of the solutions. The data need to be analyzed for it to offer insights and patterns and forecasts.
5. Cloud Applications
Cloud Applications is a layer of the IoT Cloud where the interaction with the end-user or customer takes place. This could be in the form of a wearable, smartphone, app, or API. A cloud API allows the interaction between the device and the system. This is a critical aspect of IoT product management as it is important to take the right decision of how much access to give your customer. The end-user and his requirements must be clearly understood. Any application might have more than one end-user too.
Challenges of IoT product management
Today’s customers are more demanding and undertake considerable scrutiny. There is increasing competition for any kind of product. Your product must appeal to the customers in terms of features and price and adaptability with their technology ecosystem. The ultimate aim is to provide customers with a seamless experience. They must be able to pair your IoT device with their existing system of connected devices.
Product management for IoT devices also includes uncovering bugs that surface when customers are using them. The IoT product must meet the requirements of the customers. The IoT devices must be able to work in situations where the network is affected or there is a sudden power outage. Offering offline support and low-power options are ways to keep your customers satisfied and safe; even in unexpected situations.
Security is a critical factor when managing IoT products. A compromised IoT product can corrupt an entire network of connected devices. Data might get into the wrong hands. Encryption and cybersecurity assume paramount importance when handling IoT devices.
A resource-guzzling IoT product is not a very optimal solution. Your IoT product must be resource-efficient. It must adhere to sustainability protocols. Using renewable energy sources is one way to address this.
There are several kinds of IoT products from different systems and developers. Whether your IoT product works only on proprietary ecosystems or follows open standards is an important consideration. When IoT applications and devices follow open standards, it is possible to coexist with devices from other systems.
IoT product manager role
IoT products involve 5 critical layers. Therefore, an IoT product manager must have a grip on the entire IoT technology stack. When you are clear on the role of each of the stacks and their interdependencies, then you are better equipped to manage the IoT product. In a small setup, one product manager might handle the entire gamut of stacks end-to-end. But in most mid-sized organizations, there will be product managers handling each stack and an IoT product manager who oversees the entire vertical.
An IoT product manager goes through the entire gamut of activities, much like on other non-connected products. This would encompass a clear understanding of customer needs and creating a plan. The requirements are prioritized and managed. While some companies build the entire IoT product end-to-end, most often companies specialize in one stack of the vertical. IoT managers need to coordinate with other companies working on specific stacks of IoT technology. An IoT manager must determine that that IoT product offers value to the customer far more than a non-connected one in the same category. Is the higher price for the IoT warranted and will it draw more users? At this stage, the IoT product manager must take stock of the competition and the features their products offer.
What is the ease of onboarding the connected products? The user must be able to seamlessly integrate the IoT product with the other devices sans friction. The IoT applications will need to be integrated with the CRM to be able to realize its potential. Successful IoT managers ensure that the data coming from the IoT device is channelized through the supply chain and enters the CRM system. Only then will it be able to give precise analytics and reporting that can aid business decisions. How the IoT device affects the bottom line must be evaluated through ROI analysis.