Commercialization Series - Blog 5: Focus on Value to Users / Iterating on New Capabilities
by Kevin Frisinger, on July 13, 2022
In blog one of our “Preparing to Commercialize a Connected Solution” blog series, we outlined key questions to address as you look to automate the manufacturing, provisioning, and claiming of connected devices on a large scale. In blog two, we discussed items for consideration as you decide how you will monetize, price, and bill for your connected solution. Blog three highlighted things to consider for onboarding your end-users. Blog four, we discussed supporting your end-user after they are onboarded. Here, in blog five, we will discuss focusing on the value to your customers and quickly iterating on capabilities.
Once your solution is commercially deployed, you’ll learn valuable lessons about how your customers actually use it. This information can then be used to iterate on your solution to incorporate new features and keep things running smoothly. We’ll use this “Iterating and Adding Value for Customers” post to identify ways you can prepare to make regular updates to your solution to ensure it continues delivering value to your customers.
Start Simple, Learn, & Iterate
When developing with software, there are some particular advantages over typical hardware-centric product development. Most apparent is the ability to continuously update and add features with magnitudes less cost and friction. This allows you to start with a simple early product to get out into the market quickly to gather feedback and iterate on only the features that are found to be important to your customers.
In the first half of blog two, we discussed how to identify the value of a new connected solution and how that value should influence your monetization strategy. By this point, you hopefully have been able to validate the value and incorporate early customer feedback into your new commercial offering. We often tell customers to start with a simple solution, learn, and then quickly iterate. Show value early, work with customers, and add functionality to become sticky in their daily, weekly, and monthly processes. Once sticky, your value increases and the likelihood of success goes up. Leverage this new business and technology in a way that matters to people.
Exosite recommends that you focus your offering and get it into the market as fast as possible to learn and adjust. The best value propositions are a combination of end-user experience, the right monetization strategy, and your internal operational excellence. When these converge in the right value the customers will respond with increased sales and increased usage.
Companies that try to build every feature that they think they need oftentimes fail. They try to get every possible feature, all possible options, and all the different data points perfectly designed into their UI. This type of program tends to drag out time to market, drive up costs, and try to solve every type of issue for every possible customer situation versus focusing on delivering immediate value for a focused use case. With a cloud-based solution, it is very easy to continue to add functionality and expand your offering over time. Starting small helps mitigate this program delay and cost inflation, and keeps focus on the high-value features for customers.
End User Value (and Insight) - Directly from the OEM
IoT is impacting traditional go-to-market models for OEMs and component suppliers. In the past, there was a reliance on channel partners and distributors that greatly limited the ability of OEMs to know their end customers. OEMs really couldn’t influence customer experiences, purchasing choices, and product usage. Now with a connected product, you enable retailers/distributors and OEMs to know their end customers. Connected equipment and systems allow OEMs, channel partners, and distributors the opportunity to know their customer's usage patterns. See the value of their offering while influencing their customer's experience and repurchasing choices without needing to reach out to the end customers directly.
OEMs have a greater ability to know how their customers are using their products, and what they value and also can create a more sticky brand experience. Channel partners enjoy a closer relationship with customers through the analysis and use of equipment and usage data to provide a higher level of service and maintenance to create a more sticky brand experience. Through the natural use of the product, customers volunteer information to channel partners, OEMs, and in some cases component manufacturers in exchange for more relevant product features, better uptimes, higher ROIs, and better service levels.
Plan on reaching out to your product sales team to get feedback on your offering and features. Determine if the offering complements the core products, thus resulting in more sales of the core products, via additional functionality, data, and insights into the product performance and efficiencies?
Develop a way to get direct customer feedback and get an understanding of their satisfaction with the product.
- Is the connected offering increasing customer satisfaction and thus retaining the customers longer by monitoring machine status and collecting trend and usage data?
- Are the customers seeing higher quality products or increased processing speed with the connected product?
- Are the customer service and maintenance teams leveraging things like augmented reality technology for machinery servicing?
- Are they streamlining machinery utilization through these digital products via a corporate internal capacity oversight to manage production capacity across production facilities?
- By enabling this connected product. Are employees using this equipment and is the data becoming more effective?
- Are you enabling the employees to communicate faster and more effectively through agile working modes, through online customer portals with access to critical information?
- Are you just missing a major piece of functionality or if you only had this feature it would enable us to do this?
If you can start to get answers to these questions you can start to develop a product roadmap centered around direct customer feedback that should directly influence your product features and functionality. The insights from this data can lead to new digital products and tiered offerings to expand and grow your revenues.
Most likely now you should be finding ways to get feedback from your customers, sales team members, channel partners, service providers, and other stakeholders on ways to improve the product and potentially tier and expand the product offering. At this point, it is time to take advantage of having a cloud-based Application Enablement Platform (AEP) like Exosite to take advantage of feedback and make iterations to your solution.
Transitioning your product company into a thriving, connected-product enterprise is an endeavor that requires a deep understanding of your users, strategic alignment throughout your organization, smart technology decisions, frequent market feedback, and perseverance of operational excellence. In our experience, companies that focus on the items in our blog series have the most success in turning IoT innovation into a competitive advantage.
As you work through these decisions, strategies, and tools, you’ll build a body of knowledge and experience that will make planning future connected-product innovations much easier.
Exosite’s software allows you to iterate in a few different ways. We see customers create and deploy different templates that have different levels of functionality.
ExoSense features that help you quickly iterate and build future functionality:
- Feature Controls - Exosite releases features continuously based on what we are hearing from our customers as long term needs. ExoSense features can be enabled / disabled by an administrator to ensure your team controls when and how a feature is leveraged with your customers.
- Asset Templating - Rolling out updates to your digital Assets can be handled using migrations with template versions. This includes visualization updates, additional signals, insight functions, and rules.
- ExoSense Insight Interface - Create your own functions for processing and analyzing data to give your customer key insights about their processes and equipment. These can be added overtime and rolled out with templating and as additional paid engagements.
- IoT Connectors - Maybe you started with an expensive IoT edge device gateway to get in the market but have found other hardware or types of sensors to bring into the fold. Adding additional IoT Connectors and new devices can be done at any time.
- Actions and API - Exosite Action insight interface and API allow for building integrations to other software platforms.
Design and User Research are playing a critical role in successfully launching IoT projects, if you need help with this, Exosite can connect you with partners or consultants to help with this.
It’s easy to focus on launching the first connected product into the market, but once this happens you need to stay vigilant and work to get direct customer feedback to enhance your solution…….
Still in the early phases of your connectivity journey? Check out our blog on becoming a full solution company. You’ll find helpful tips about how to prepare your organization to add software to an existing hardware product, overcome challenges, and set yourself up for success.