5 Organizational Barriers to IoT Product Development

Aaron Perillat | May 31, 2017

Many companies are interested in integrating connected technologies into their physical products. In fact, an estimated $6 trillion will be spent on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in the next five years, according to Business Insider.

There are several reasons companies of all sizes are moving to add connected technologies into their product design and development. In our recent webinar, “Mapping IoT Product Requirements,” guest speaker Nate Fleming, Forrester Research analyst, says some of the big motivators for adding IoT functionality into products include improving growth opportunities, strengthening requirements, heightening customer satisfaction, and opening up the marketplace.

For traditional product companies, implementing connected integration will result in major impacts to a variety of different aspects of their business. It’s a simple thing to declare you’d like your company’s top-selling coffee maker or automobile, for instance, to have connected capabilities. Executing on that vision with existing product development teams and structures in a fast, efficient, safe, and innovative way brings a whole other set of challenges.

Using research insights from our recent webinar, we’ve identified five IoT roadblocks that prevent organizations from successfully implementing IoT functionality.

Insular Development Strategies

A commitment to absolute secrecy — especially when it comes to new product design and development — has been a cornerstone of many business strategies. That’s a difficult approach to justify when adding IoT technologies, however, and many companies will need to rethink their game plan. That’s not to say you can’t be tight-lipped about things, but collaborating with staff across the organization, as well as outside companies — whether it’s to share data through APIs or develop mutually-beneficial ecosystems — can increase value for both your business and its customers.

For example, if you’re building a connected car, partnering with companies with popular apps — from digital radio, to navigation and weather — can make your digital dashboard experience more substantial. An outside-in scenario with IoT product development, benefitting from lots of research, customer journey mapping, and usage data analysis to craft the next generation of requirements and products, will only improve end results.

Isolated Product Teams

Sequestering product developers in a silo isn’t going to improve your connected technologies. Collaboration is crucial to building a stronger experience for customers, and the right development platform can play a big role in facilitating this communication. Beyond that though, from a cultural viewpoint, development teams deserve just as much insight into the company’s strategies and goals as any other department, and the same is true in reverse. Marketing, sales, and leadership teams should all have visibility into product development so they can better interact with customers and the market overall, as well as help deliver success.

Traditional Processes Preventing Nimble Development

Nobody likes change. This can be especially true for legacy product developers, many of whom may have been operating under the confines of standardized methodologies for decades. The problem is when software development is added to the mix, the traditional ways of doing things may no longer apply. In this case, it might be helpful to take a more hybrid approach to product development. That way, the limitations of physical product production can still be accounted for while software developers are given the ability to innovate and operate with speed and agility. When combined with the right balance of processes and collaborative software, this hurdle can eventually be overcome.

Mismatched Skill Sets

Just because traditional product companies have the right in-house product developers and engineers — experts at crafting amazing physical products — that doesn’t mean they’ll always be able to easily adapt to implementing embedded software in their creations. There’s a lot of new skills that need to be learned, including software development, testing, cloud familiarity, usage data management, and security and connectivity capabilities. Whether it’s through training or staffing, it’ll take time to acquire the new knowledge and tactics, but those investments will pay off in a better process and products overall.

Insufficient Development Tools

As new methodologies are adopted, companies must also consider updating the development platform your teams use to collaborate. Outdated product lifecycle management (PLM) software, for instance, has the potential to drastically slow teams down and overcomplicate the process. Likewise, casual communication tools and desktop productivity applications aren’t complex enough to handle the intricacies and demands of IoT product development. Specialized, collaborative software platforms that understand the needs of IoT product developers will go a long way in bringing better products to market quickly.

It’s important to note that all of these IoT roadblocks can be remedied and should only be seen as temporary barriers in product development. The real danger is ignoring them outright, and diving head first into IoT without making sure you have the foresight, infrastructure, staffing, strategies, and tools that’ll accommodate a successful transition.

For a deeper diver into organizational barriers within IoT product development, check out our on-demand webinar, “Mapping IoT Product Requirements.