3 Things You Need To Connect a Product to The IoT
“What makes a device an IoT Connected Product?” Is a question we often hear from people who are just getting started on their IoT journey.
People tend to jump straight into creating connected product strategies without first understanding all of the necessary components.
There are three main aspects of a connected product:
- Connection to the IoT
- An application to monitor and control the device
- Integration with other business systems
We focus on developing the application, and then partner with Xively and Salesforce for connectivity and business systems. Let’s look a bit deeper into each of these.
Connection to the IoT
The first step to developing a connected product is, well, connecting it to the internet. This is normally done in one of two ways:
Generally, you have a direct connectivity, where the device has an IP address and you can send and receive data from it.
Your other option to connect your product is through a centralized gateway. This is essentially a universal hub that allows multiple devices to connect to it.
Centralized gateways are often used to create connected homes, offices, and stores.
Imagine a home security system, consisting of multiple sensors on windows, doors, locks, and more, that are all communicating with the centralized hub. Normally it wouldn’t make sense for each of these sensors to have an individualized IP address, when the data can instead be aggregated by one central device and processed to the product’s application.
An application to monitor and control the device
The next essential aspect of an effective IoT connected product is having an application to monitor and control your device. This application is often custom built. Most connected products will have two separate applications – one for business users, and one for standard users.
I have used Nest as an example in a previous blog post and will unapologetically use them again. Why? Because they are a great example of a successful IoT connected product – that’s why!
Nest has a consumer facing application with a whole suite of it’s own functionalities. The mobile application uses geofencing to predict when you’re leaving your home, allows you to adjust temperatures, and alerts you if there is anything weird going on with your cooling system.
Nest also has a separate, business-user application. This app provides them with usage rates for individuals or groups of users, alerts when and why the product is malfunctioning, and data on users’ energy saving rates over time.
So you have a connected product and an application to control it. Now what?
Integration with other business systems
It’s time to integrate your connected product into your other business systems.
We would recommend you feed the data you are getting from your product into a system like Salesforce. By doing this you will (at a minimum) be able to sell, service, and market to your customers in real time with the suite of products Salesforce offers. Let’s look at this from two different perspectives, support and sales.
To understand how this works, imagine running a solar company. You connect the panels to the internet so that you can monitor them in real-time to ensure they are working correctly and have access to the individual user’s usage rates.
By processing this in Salesforce with the right customizations, your solar panels can instantly create a support ticket when an issue arises. That ticket can be assigned to one of your technicians with details on what’s happened, which panel has been effected, and at which address. Your technician can now take the necessary steps to address the situation before the consumer even knows about it.
Maybe your company also provides other energy-efficient products, like windows.
When you install the solar panels, you instruct a technician to record the customer’s window brand and style into Salesforce. If their windows are thin (like mine) they are going to have higher energy usage rates than people with thicker windows. In salesforce, you can set an alert when someone’s energy efficiency is below your total customer’s average. This will automatically assign them as a lead to one of your reps. You can then send them an automated, personalized email with the data showing how poor their energy efficiency is.
For a bonus, maybe you create a brochure showing the details of how much money they could save if they were to install your windows. The possibilities are really endless.
After learning what it takes to have an IoT connected product, you may start thinking how or if you can use a connected product in your business. We believe that the answer is yes, every company can benefit from connecting their product to the internet. that is, unless you sell teddy bears. But if your teddy bear is equipped with an artificially intelligent, voice-enabled speaker, maybe it could?
Okay that’s probably a long shot, but if you are considering connecting your product, you can watch our webinar where we ask Ryan Lester, IoT genius from Xively, all about how to get started.
About Shane Rostad
Shane Rostad is a marketing manager for TriFin Labs that loves to share his knowledge and learnings about tech through writing. When he's not reading you can find him exploring Florida's parks or loitering in a local coffee shop.