An IoT platform is an integral part of any IoT product. It can help you accelerate your time-to-market, minimize risk, reduce development cost, and help you arrive at product-market fit faster.
I had the opportunity to be a guest in the Product Experience podcast by Mind the Product, and I’d like to share that interview with you.
This was a particularly exciting episode for me since I’ve had a long history of collaboration with Mind the Product.
In case you don’t know about MTP (and you should), they are the top organization pushing forward the Product Management profession around the world.
I’ve known MTP for a long time. I used to run the San Francisco ProductTank for some time, I’ve taught IoT workshops at their San Francisco and London conferences, and I’ve been featured in their blog many times. I consider them my PM family.
The team at MTP recently launched their new podcast: The Product Experience, and as you can imagine, I was very excited to participate.
In this interview, I talk about the complexities of managing IoT products, including the skills you need and the different perspectives PMs need to consider when they work for a startup vs. a big enterprise.
Here’s what you will learn in this interview
- What is IoT Product Management, and how is it different from managing other types of products?
- What areas does an IoT PM need to consider?
- What about ethics and security in IoT?
- How is the role of a PM vs. head of Products different in IoT?
- How is decision making different in startups vs. big companies?
- Is IoT just hype (or what does the current adoption look like)?
- What does IoT mean for the future of Product Management
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
I believe IoT can help fight Climate Change. Unfortunately, many people only associate IoT with “convenience products” that don’t add a lot of value, such as smart toasters. (Just in case you were wondering why I’m on stage with images of big toasters) =)
As our population grows to 9.8 billion people by 2050, we will continue to strain the planet’s resources to produce enough electricity, food, and water. At the same time, consuming all these additional resources will continue to amplify our Climate Change crisis in a dangerous cycle.
As IoT Product Leaders, we need to help change the narrative and spread the word on how, exactly, IoT can be part of the solution. Not only how IoT can help fight Climate Change, but also how it can generate new sources of revenue for our companies in the process.
I want to share with you my keynote at InfoShare, the biggest technology conference in Central and Eastern Europe. The theme of my keynote is: how companies are using the IoT to fight Climate Change.
In this talk, I describe the role of IoT on curbing carbon emissions, and I include specific examples of how companies can leverage IoT throughout the energy generation and consumption lifecycle. In the talk, I focus on energy, but you can extrapolate the same ideas to agriculture, healthcare, transportation, etc.
Many Product leaders are concerned about this challenge, but they are not sure how they can contribute. They think that to help fight Climate Change; they need to build products that directly tackle the problem, such as solar panels or wind turbines.
But the reality is that there are many different ways for us to help. Listen to the talk to learn more.
I know we can’t solve Climate Change with technology alone, but technology does play an important role. And hence, working on IoT is my way to be part of the solution.
Climate Change is the biggest challenge of our generation. We need everybody’s talent working together to stand a chance. I invite you to get involved.
How will you use your talents to fight Climate Change AND increase opportunities for your company? Leave me a message below. I’d love to hear from you.
Throughout history, technological advances have served as catalysts for meaningful societal changes, particularly in the industrial world. Steam engines sparked the first industrial revolution. Electricity was the major pillar of the second industrial revolution. Then, computers empowered a whole range of automation, sparking the third industrial revolution.
Every year at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, the top technology companies showcase their latest products and outline the future of technology. This year’s theme was “Intelligent Connectivity,” and 5G was portrayed as THE connectivity solution for years to come.
There is no question that we are living in an era of impressive technological disruption that is changing the way we live. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a perfect example of the innovation that occurs when we leverage the latest technology trends to create solutions that positively impact the world.
The Internet of Things is possible thanks to the availability of more powerful and cost-effective components. Today, we have small and accurate sensors, powerful edge computing, cloud computing, advanced analytics techniques such as Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, and a myriad of display form factors, including phones, watches, car dashboards, and even Virtual and Augmented Reality.
Twenty years ago, we had accurate sensors and some edge computing capabilities, though not nearly as powerful as what we have today. We also had the ability to centralize data and analyze it to extract value.
So, what has changed?
The answer is connectivity.
Today, connectivity allows enterprises to collect data from remote locations at blazing speeds and affordable costs. With systems no longer siloed, we are seeing the promise of the Internet of Things become a reality.
Ubiquitous connectivity opens the door to new products and services that can reach a wider portion of the population. Take for example the concept of a Smart City. Cities are complex, siloed systems that support the daily life of their citizens. Systems like energy generation and distribution, water delivery, waste management, transit management, surveillance, and more provide the complete nervous system of any city.
The connectivity revolution enables us to remove barriers across all of these systems and create a unified mega-system commonly known as a “Smart City.” This opens up the door for a multitude of opportunities for both enterprises and governments to deploy solutions that increase operational efficiency, reduce cost, and improve the quality of life for their citizens.
Companies can improve the efficiency of energy delivery by creating a self-healing electric grid or “Smart Grid.” Cities can save millions of gallons of water by automatically detecting leaks across hundreds of miles of “smart pipes.” These applications and many others are beginning to take hold today, and they are powered by connectivity and the Internet of Things.
It’s easy to see how this connectivity revolution enables opportunities in developed countries that already have the infrastructure and know-how to take advantage of them. But what about opportunities in developing countries?
These technological innovations have the potential to have the largest impact in developing nations, where advanced connectivity can enable cities to “leap-frog” many years into the future. Governments will be able to bypass the construction of expensive, traditional infrastructure by adopting wireless connectivity solutions, such as 5G, that will deliver more bandwidth and capacity for a fraction of the cost.
With this infrastructure in place, enterprises and governments can focus on deploying solutions like the ones mentioned above. They can even take them further by creating innovative applications such as mobile payments, remote education, and remote health.
The Bottom Line
The connectivity revolution is just beginning, so now is the time for companies to develop a strong strategy to leverage these new trends to provide better products and services to their customers.
To be successful, that strategy must be informed by an understanding of what additional value will be provided to the customers and the company with access to real-time data in their customer’s environment. If you are able to identify that value, then you are ready to start your IoT journey.
Go ahead. The technology and connectivity will be there, ready to support you.
Note: I wrote this article as part of a collaboration with Ericsson (#EricssonInfluencer). Read how Ericsson and Grundfos are leveraging the connectivity revolution to develop intelligent pumps.
5G, with its increased bandwidth and intelligence, promises to propel the Internet of Things forward. Smarter connectivity and more bandwidth mean more connected devices, which means more data. This abundance of data (or the value one can extract from it), is driving players across the IoT ecosystem toward this opportunity.
Communication Service Providers (CSP) are no exception. They are working to bring the 5G infrastructure to market while exploring ways to play a more active role in storing, analyzing, and monetizing the data that flows through their network.
As CSPs plan their product and go-to-market strategies, it is useful to evaluate the lessons learned from other companies that have tried similar models.
Capitalizing on the data that flows through a system is not a new concept. In fact, this idea has driven hundreds of companies to enter the IoT cloud platform market, allured by the possibility of accessing IoT data, many without acknowledging the immense complexity.
While there are countless lessons from IoT platform companies, here are the three most useful conclusions for CSPs.
Focus on adding value to your customer
It is important for CSPs to perform market and user research to discover how they can bring value to IoT solution providers. Let’s not forget that accessing user data is a CSP goal and not something customers are asking for.
From the perspective of IoT solution providers, the CSP is usually just a means to an end. As long as the data transfer is reliable, secure, fast, and cost-effective, it doesn’t matter which CSP they use.
What can CSPs provide to IoT solution providers to be perceived as value-added partners, as opposed to non-differentiated infrastructure?
Realize the privacy challenges your customers face
With the recent privacy scandals, consumers are more aware than ever about how companies acquire and treat their data.
IoT solution providers are fighting the privacy fight on two fronts. On one end, they need to gain the trust of their customers, requiring tighter SLAs and clear restrictions on what vendors can do with customer data.
On the other hand, IoT product companies are negotiating with every partner and vendor across the technology stack who is also interested in their data. This includes vendors for sensors, IoT cloud platform, analytics, etc.
Everyone is looking to access the data collected by the IoT company. CSPs need to compete with the other players, providing an extra level of value to convince IoT product companies to share their data with yet another vendor.
Entering the data business is hard
Often, infrastructure companies pursuing a data strategy through an IoT platform realize too late the complexity and steep cost of building and operating a cloud platform. These companies have invested billions of dollars building their IoT platform offerings, only to realize they are unable to pull it off.
This is particularly challenging for companies whose core expertise is not cloud software, as the challenge then becomes technical and organizational.
Companies that don’t have a software culture find it very difficult to compete in this space. Beyond building the solution, they have to support and monetize it. CSPs would benefit from a strengths and weaknesses analysis to determine whether they are equipped to embark on this journey and what it would take to succeed.
The Bottom Line
It is true that there are lucrative opportunities for CSPs to play a larger role in the data economy. Before diving in, the successes and challenges of IoT cloud platforms and other IoT component vendors should be evaluated—saving themselves from preventable headaches down the road.
Note: I wrote this article as part of a collaboration with Ericsson (#EricssonInfluencer). Download Ericsson’s report: Realizing IoT Strategies.