“But I want analytics; smart devices are my vehicle to analytics.” – everyone who is aspiring to participate in IoT ecosystem. It’s no secret IoT is hot. But why is it hot? Why does it seem like every product business is jumping on the IoT bandwagon? Here’s a hint…. Customers love being engaged with their devices and businesses crave the information the devices provide. It’s actually a beautiful, win-win ecosystem when you think about it.
When examining the Internet of Things ecosystem, it’s easy to focus on analytics. But, if you are thinking about an IoT product deployment or have already started one, you should first consider the role of a robust device management service as your cloud services stepping stone. This is often glossed over, but I hope as you keep reading, the importance of a strong device management service will be clear as day.
1) It’s Mutually Beneficial for the Customer AND the Business
As you develop your IoT strategy, consider your smart product’s projections from year one to year two, and so on. How will these in-market devices be monitored and managed? You probably decided to build smart products because 1) your customers are requesting them, 2) you know it will drastically improve the customer experience and the number of customer touchpoints, and 3) you desire the wealth of data that smart products can provide. But, again, take a step back and determine how you will monitor and manage these in-market products. Device management is all about this key component which connects the dots to all of the three points listed above.
2) It Ensures Product Data is Available at the Right Place at the Right Time
In order to maximize smart device-driven decisions, you must address as many endpoints for data generation (your IoT devices) as well as consumption (such as mobile apps, dashboards) as possible in the data collection process. In the case of IoT, your devices typically communicate with the user, your mobile app, and possibly with other devices. How does this data return to your organization’s key players? How will your engineers see the data (or feedback) to impact future versions or future products or remotely fix bugs? How will your product managers measure success? How will your marketing team alter messaging or advertisements based on this data? Most critically, can this data even be sourced and accessed securely!? To understand what each device is doing in the field, which features are being used and which are being ignored, where your users have active products to better target new customers and identify product usage trends by region, the information must be collected from the device via a granular, secure device management service.
3) It’s the Start of the Customer WOW Factor
Customers who have purchased connected products encounter their first delightful experience when their product gets new features or self-heals when there are issues. This ability of the product to receive the latest & greatest software update over the air is powered by the device management service. In industrial product deployment scenarios the value is amplified many times over since over the air updates can save support costs, drive up customer uptime and increase overall customer lifetime value.
4) It sets up the right model for simplifying data processing
Platforms professing to simplify IoT typically fall down when they aren’t built to send data to other platforms for specific functions such as analytics, CRM, ERP, etc. According to an article by Dan Woods in Forbes Magazine dated April, 2014, “Positive economic impact is estimated at $1.9 trillion. But the path to creating that value is not what most people think it is.” By this, Dan discusses that platforms, like Zentri’s, exist to remove the complexity of building connected products, but people unexpectedly get caught up by the complexity by locking in data in their cloud or a vendor’s cloud. However, this can be easily addressed by having a device management service ‘orchestrate’ the data transfer where DMS authenticates & authorizes the device and the connector endpoint. For example, the Zentri platform includes Cloud Connectors to instantly connect to any cloud service provider of choice, as well as your favorite analytics and data aggregation platforms such as Salesforce, Cloudera, and Buddy.
5) It Provides the Data: Analytics Can Only Add Value if There is Data to be Analyzed!
If you get nothing else out of this blog, remember this one thing: If you cannot generate AND access data securely, then it cannot provide value. I get it… analytics is sexy. But analytics does not exist without secure communication with the device on a per-device basis. Analytics should really be called “Analytics – powered by the device management service.”
A device management service is really the starting point for the next phase in your IoT journey. It’s the vehicle to deliver you to Cloud Connectors, Enterprise Business Logic, Analytics, Data Transformation, and more. It’s also that key touchpoint from the user to the device to you and your team. It gets you ‘in the know.’