Earlier this year in San Jose, I spoke at the Sensors Expo. I discussed “Hard Earned Commercialization Lessons” with the subline – Taking a Napkin Sketch from coffee-stained canvas to commercialization in the sensor IoT/IIoT Space…
Representing my design firm with decades and decades of experience in electronic-based product commercialization, I cherry-picked 5 of my favorite lessons (we and/or clients often learned the hard way) and presented them to a madly raucous crowd of attendees. OK, maybe not raucous. I’m repeating the lessons here for you, dear reader. Here we go!
(1) If You Build It, They Will NOT Come!
The phrase “If you build it, they will come” heard as a ghostly whisper in the 1989 classic The Field of Dreams makes for a positive movie plot but it is a risky approach when it comes to IoT/IIoT solution development. Your company’s money and your own reputation is on the line – this means it is wise to do some homework!
Clients that do not seek customer insight and feedback at project onset often discover that technology-first solutions miss the mark – and this is often after spending a significant amount of money on development.
The will of the market and the nuanced needs of prospective users are the best judges of your ideas. Align your solution with direct user feedback early in your development process – skipping this step is riskier than building a farm-based baseball field in central Iowa!
(2) Continuous Real User Insight and Feedback is Crucial
User-centric methodologies are recommended at the onset of the development process AND throughout stages of development.
As part of our (I+P)^BN standout “How we do it” product development process (Innovation fused with Process, all in light of your Business Needs) we roll continuous user-centric feedback into the process with numerous touch points.
This continuous feedback is crucial to every step along the way. Each end-user response earns subtle or, more often than not, surprising implications. These responses affects how we approach the continued development to ensure targeted audience acceptance.
(3) Limit your Initial Scope to Early Detection Only, and Don’t Forget Nick
Unfortunately, many IoT and IIoT product launches fail because of a lack of stakeholder support and misaligned team values. For this reason, we often suggest our clients start small. Starting small not only helps to ensure success but also allows your senior leadership to wrap their minds around a project. Examples? Think simple sensor data collection, and even simpler rules to understand the detection of system failures that drive immediate ROI. You can always have Phase 2 and expand over time to bring on more capabilities.
Of course, the addition of a Machine Learning platform to course through petabytes of data to draw insights for actionable intelligence sounds amazing but will be much easier to achieve once a quicker hit “win” is under your belt.
I am personally amazed at how easily corporate purse strings open up for second-generation technology projects once senior management sees the ROI for a successfully developed and deployed generation 1 solution. Again, it is wise to start small.
Ohh… So… Nick.
I’m talking about the maintenance guru at your end user’s facility that is the holder of native, unwritten machine health information. This cranium-locked info is crucial to the early detection and diagnostic monitoring needs of an IIoT project. So, if you can make Nick happy – AND – if you can get him to share his secret nuanced understanding of processes and methodologies, you can deliver an intelligent system much faster than otherwise possible. So… *please*… I beg of you… don’t forget Nick as he is the rock star! Codifying his knowledge is crucially important.
(4) Own the Data in the Ecosystem as it Means Everything Long Term
Yes, we advocate quick wins that drive immediate ROI in the short-term. After getting that traction, however, we advocate a shift to a longer horizon play. The longer horizon value is derived from the treasure trove of intelligence gathered by a delivered diagnostic monitoring solution. This data can be mined for insight and wisdom for you to UNDERSTAND your customer and serve them solutions better than anyone else.
But… if you don’t own your data in the ecosystem… you don’t own the most valuable asset. And if another entity or competitor owns the data, they will eventually figure your customer out better than you – and disrupt YOUR market.
(5) Don’t Discredit the Field Use Case (or it will make you a fool!)
I went down to a mining facility in the southern half of the United States a few months ago for a meeting. I experienced first-foot the vibration under my feet, the heat of machines baking in the sun, the dust, and the corrosive nature of an active mine. This experience was crucial for understanding the context of environmental conditions and use cases for a target product under discussion.
Knowing the field use case, you can develop a product that will thrive and survive within it – or at least not get crushed by flying rocks.
Field use case understanding will set you up for success – and keep you from looking like a fool if the solution misses the mark.
Infinitely more important than processor choices, operating systems, and sensor suites- the act of doing your homework around users and the environment and revisiting those assumptions continually through the process is critical.
What really matters at the end of a development process and when you tie a red bow around your new baby – does your customer find value in the solution to the point that they are willing to pay for it.
Here at Hallsten Innovations we put our customer’s investment first, and deeply desire to see it spent wisely. We get the importance of the user AND technology and make sure the important things, stay important through the entire process A-Z.