Nowadays everything is (inter)connected, from your smartphone to your smart home or industrial device. Somehow it’s all connected to the internet. If not, it’s just a matter of time before it will be. In the last 5 years, we’ve noticed the number of IoT projects has become more standard than exception. Devices connected to an online platform have many benefits, think about collecting user insights and offering additional services.
A challenge for the developers to design effective technological solutions. From applying a design thinking strategy to making smart decisions in the development of IoT devices, here are 7 action points to add to your checklist when you consider building another successful online platform with connected products.
- What do you want to measure & why?
- What is the environment your device is in?
- Ideation, ideation, ideation & iteration
- Provision your devices in a secure, scalable & redundant environment
- Who will use your devices & who will have access to the IoT platform?
- Measure & manage your project
- Be agile & act lean
Data really powers everything that we do. – Jeff Weiner
1. What do you want to measure & why?
Collecting a lot of data and feeding it into a data lake without knowing what it is you want to do, is just a cost without any return in sight.
Every project starts with the use case. Think about what it is you want to improve, change or reduce.
- Do I need to reduce the losses in raw materials by improving quality control?
- Do I want to reduce the total cost by increasing efficiency in manpower in the production process?
- Do I want to know upfront when a machine part will fail so I can send the right replacement beforehand?
- Do I want to learn more about my product in the field to improve the next generation?
- Do I want to guarantee the quality of my product in the field thanks to thresholds you want to monitor so you can better support your customer?
- Do you want to reduce the number of calls to the support department?
The use cases are endless, but don’t start a project without one!
2. What is the environment your device is in?
The above-mentioned examples of use cases will most definitely explain more about the environments you want to measure. You also need to consider the conditions your device is exposed to (i.e. extreme cold or heat, fluids (hot or cold), speed, vibration, etc.). In other words, can your sensor resist these possibly extreme conditions?
Also, your users’ behavior is something to bear in mind when setting up and configuring your product. These actions can also be seen as ‘the environment of your device’. Involving your users as early as possible will help you get the interface just right thanks to the priceless feedback.
3. Ideation, ideation, ideation & iteration
Before even thinking about the setup of your architecture or the provisioning (authentication and authorization) of your devices, you’ll want to mitigate the risks of your project in a few ideation exercises. Iterate as much as necessary before designing your final product or architecture.
In an ideation phase, you want to handle some specific topics (and most probably not all in one session of course). You need to talk to the stakeholders involved and think about the technology you’ll need, the validation processes you want to set up, the costing structure of your architecture, the measurement tools, the onboarding process, the embedded software of your device, etc. All with the same purpose of (re)designing your final product/setup.
Double diamond design process (adapted from Service Design Vancouver) © VERHAERT