How to Prepare Your IoT Platform for Future Development

Developer working on IoT platform.

If your business operates a connected product, you expect growth. These inflection points happen at different maturity levels. Whether you are determining when to build a new product, or expand your portfolio to increase your digital capabilities to support multiple products, you need to know when it’s time to scale up. To handle the growth and accompanying data, you will need a platform that can adapt to new cloud services and capabilities. So, what are the considerations when scaling for future growth? For this article, we spoke to Aaron Kamphuis, Digital Business Solutions Lead, and Jen Nowlin, Connected Products Business Leader, to gain insights into how companies can develop a growth mindset for future success.

“How do you build with an eye on scaling your IoT initiatives? In different stages of ROI investment, especially in IoT, organizations often start with small projects because they are just trying to justify experimentation and discovery work,” said Nowlin.

That approach eventually catches up with organizations, however. They start to ask, “how do I take all these experiments that are happening all around the business and start to understand where the business needs and organizational needs have dependencies?”

Business units might start by using disparate platforms for speed to market, while corporate leadership aims to centralize, drive cohesion, and save costs across the enterprise. Organizations typically then form cross-functional teams to explore what it means to have a centralized IoT platform.

That’s an inflection point, Nowlin noted. Each of the individual stakeholders across the organization has to come to an agreement so a decision can be made about the path forward.

Return on IoT Program Iteration for Cloud Success

Typically a business might have to retool the IoT cloud platform because of changing customer demands, new cloud service capabilities or a competitive threat. What does this mean from an investment perspective? At certain points, you are only going to be able to exploit your existing technology so far, Nowlin noted. Then it might be time for a strategic move with your IoT platform to scale for future growth.

Now imagine a business is leveraging a single IoT platform, but they are struggling to customize it at different system integration points, such as an ERP system, CRM, or other 3rd party systems for example. This drives businesses to another major inflection point.

“Do we retool our existing IoT platform? Do we replace it? What do we do?” Nowlin said. “Those are some major decisions that have to be made further on. Early on you’ve had to codify experiments and disparate platforms across the business to form that cohesive model. Growth expands that model deeper into your enterprise and into your ecosystem, forcing the cloud IoT platform to support those system integration points.”

Gaining Executive Buy-In for IoT Platform Upgrades

Regardless of where an organization is in their IoT platform journey, when looking to scale for future growth, it all comes down to whether a business has executive cover, Kamphuis and Nowlin agreed.

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“If executives really want to go big, they will throw everything into it,” Nowlin said. “You have to start with executive buy in. If an executive will at least give you permission, incremental investment, and protection from the rest of the organization, that’s important for success.”

Kamphuis also discussed how the color of our conversations, as connected product consultants, depends on how and when companies believe they need to scale.

“Do they have a product mindset? Is this platform a new service? Or are they deep in developing a new business model mindset?” he said.

With a product focus, the strategy centers around what it does and how to gain momentum in the marketplace. With new business models, you have to determine what is required for success. And that becomes even more complex when the model requires a platform that serves multiple business needs.

“Suddenly, the dynamic is significantly different because organizations have both internal and external customers,” Kamphuis said.

When Is It Time for an IoT Platform Change?

One common way a company will know it’s time for a change is when the organization is frustrated doing re-work across teams rather than being able to easily leverage shared IoT knowledge and platform capabilities. Another common scenario is when the company executives are being asked by its key clients or customers to meet certain demands that can only be addressed through a centralized IoT platform experience.

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“If the organization can’t exploit the existing platform to meet those demands, then customers will look elsewhere,” Nowlin said.

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