Fostering a team of engineers to build out an IoT product is a lucrative role for solving your company’s business goals. And while leading these initiatives, it’s easy to be laser-focused on how these projects will impact your job, department and business. But what if we were to say that these IoT ecosystems could benefit way beyond just your organization?
IoT technology lets you partner with digitally compatible companies to share customer data – ultimately a win-win strategy. Data is invaluable, and by linking with complementary companies within your IoT ecosystem, you can access a full customer profile to better tailor your products and services, more accurately predict customer behavior and maximize revenue.
Building Your Customer’s Full Profile
A deep understanding of the customer is essential to any consumer products company. Which products do they use? How often? What other products might appeal to them? IoT technology provides these insights, but there’s a way to take it even further.
Imagine you are a global paper goods company selling your products to thousands of building managers across the country. You have an IoT system in the washroom that connects your paper towel, toilet paper and soap dispensers to mobile apps and a web dashboard that tracks how individuals in the washroom use your products. Now think about the other companies that share the washroom environment with your products – manufacturers of toilets, sinks, hand dryers and more. The sink manufacturer and the paper goods supplier can benefit from shared data points (e.g., how much time is spent washing hands; how many paper towels are used), with both gaining insights through a more complete customer profile.
If you’re thinking of a complementary company whose data stream you could usefully tap but that isn’t part of the IoT ecosystem yet, we can help you make a strong case to that company for adding connectivity to their products.
Managing the Technical Build-Out
So you’re on board, and you see the value in creating partnerships with complementary companies. You’re probably thinking of some companies right now. The next question is – how’s it done?
If you’re a large enterprise with a commensurate software budget and lots of data points, you’re a good candidate for building out a digital hub that other companies can link to. You definitely want a team that has experience building these types of large systems – the right engineering talent that understands how to build software and systems in a modular fashion so you can build upon down the road. This approach also facilitates the integration of other companies into the customized “hub” system for data-sharing.
If a smaller software budget is in play, along with fewer data points, think back to our washroom example. It would make more sense for a sink manufacturer to integrate with an existing system than create a custom IoT ecosystem of its own. So how is this type of partnership created technically?
The process is transmitting data from a device in the field to the cloud for storage and processing is often known as ‘backhaul.” This process is expensive to set up, install and build, but not necessarily expensive to utilize once it is up and running. For products with a smaller user base, it’s often hard to justify that backhaul all the way to the cloud; the case for providing long-range connectivity just isn’t there. But you can piggyback off a company if they’re operating in the same digital IoT environment. For example, a door handle company with an API that gathers information on how often the door opens can connect to the paper goods company with an existing IoT ecosystem in the washroom, and purchase some of their data. From there, they’re able to offer a service to their users, like soap refills based on the number of times the door opens. It’s a winning partnership for both companies.
Global tech giants see the potential in these connectivity partnerships and are making strides to create industry best practices and standards. Goals include the adoption of a royalty-free connectivity standard that will grow to encompass IoT environments well beyond home automation.
Strategizing Partnerships – Start Now
Data is priceless and forging a strategic partnership with the right companies in your digital ecosystem can bring you more business and boost revenue big time. Start thinking now about which companies might be a good fit for a lucrative “cross-fertilization” collaboration. It’s another way to make the most of the expanding, data-rich IoT landscape.