Successful IoT businesses come in all shapes and sizes. Some focus on specific sectors, others are generalists. Some are in the hardware business – designing and manufacturing the connected devices that make up IoT ecosystems – while others are in the software business, creating the platforms and analytics engines that those devices connect to. It’s a diverse picture. Nevertheless, there are some key factors that all success IoT organisations have in common
What is IoT? They lead with value
That is, they develop products or services to solve a problem or enhance a process. In doing so, they avoid the mistake of thinking their products are valuable simply because there are new, and keep their customers and users front and centre every time they make a change to their offering. The tangible value that their IoT product or platform delivers sits at the core of their business strategy, and everything else flows from this.
They take security seriously
No technology business should treat cybersecurity as an ‘add-on’, but this is perhaps especially pertinent for IoT businesses. Cybercriminals are already taking advantage of the proliferation of connected devices, recognising that they are a potentially weak route into businesses or individuals’ homes. Connected devices that launch with default insecure settings, or IoT platforms that do not ensure the encryption of data in transit and at rest, are playing with fire. It is far easier, more cost-effective and more efficient to take security seriously from the outset of product development, and to implement principles such as ‘privacy by design’ from day one.
They understand how to get the most out of data
Successful IoT businesses don’t just develop a product or platform, launch it and move onto the next project. Rather, they recognise that one of the great advantages of the IoT is the ability for those live products to capture data and feed it right back to the developers. Real, live information on how products are being used and how efficiently they are performing is invaluable for designers and developers – far easier than calling up old customers and asking them if they wouldn’t mind completing a feedback form.
Then there’s big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence – just some of the more sophisticated ways in which IoT businesses can harness data and translate it into dramatic process improvements and insights. IoT success, in short, is frequently dependent on understand the data available to businesses, and how to translate it into tangible actions.
They look outside when they need to
IoT innovation and success requires a broad set of skills and experiences, covering both hardware and software, security and networking, application design, data analysis nd plenty more besides. Successful IoT businesses understand that, especially in their early days, it may not be practical to manage all these skill sets internally – but if this is the case, then those skills need to be sought externally, rather than ignored. Outsourcing and consultancy are rife in the IoT secotr with good reason.
They are agile
The IoT landscape is fundamentally dynamic – which means that dynamism is an essential quality for businesses to survive in it. They need to be able to respond rapidly to evolving technology, new regulatory frameworks and new cyber threats – without a knock-on negative effect on their product development and sales processes. Scalability and growth in the IoT world needs to be elastic, while rapid change among competitors, partners, suppliers and customers is the norm. The most successful IoT businesses understand this dynamism and structure themselves to be agile enough to deal with it, rather than fighting it.