By John Burns, Ph.D.
For industrial-product companies, innovation is not just about the product anymore.
Companies making compressors, fans, turbines, pumps, or other devices now incorporate sensors in these products that collect real-time performance data. They provide customers with a way to download this performance information, store it, view it, analyze it, report on it, and act on the results. These industrial products are now smart devices, and the companies making them have entered the world of the industrial internet of things (IIOT). The IIOT provides tremendous innovation opportunity. Compared with the markets for consumer electronics or mobile applications, for example, the pace of innovation in industrial-product categories is slow. But IIOT offerings provide a more dynamic and fast-paced environment for industrial companies, one that puts them on the cutting edge of the revolution in smart technology and data analysis.
It also presents dangers. As industrial companies rush to compete in the faster-paced world of smart devices and the IIOT, they should be sure to consider everything this entails. Here are three important factors to note:
- You’re a software company now. In addition to providing access to data about your product, the security and IT infrastructure concerns associated with the collection and storage of critical information are now your responsibility. You also must consider the logistics behind product upgrades, customer support, licensing management, and ongoing customer renewals.
- Customer experience matters. The experience customers have when accessing and analyzing the data you provide is critical to your long-term success. As the IIOT matures, it will become less a matter of whether you offer a smart device, and more about the experience of using it: what is the format you provide the data in, how intuitive is the user interface, how does it integrate with other software systems? All of these questions and more are important to get right to optimize the customer experience and maintain an advantage.
- Know what customers value. Many IIOT offerings have more features and functionality than customers will use. It’s critical to understand what customers value and will pay for. Charge for the features and functionality customers value, but give away or remove those that customers don’t want, won’t use, or are unwilling to pay for because they don’t see the value.
The IIOT provides an exciting innovation opportunity for industrial companies. But success in the long term will require careful planning to meet the requirements of a software company, to deliver an exceptional customer experience, and to understand what customers value. As the IIOT matures, and these offerings become less of a differentiator and more of a commodity, getting these issues right will matter more than ever.
To learn additional strategies for succeeding in the Industrial Internet of Things, watch our webinar on demand.