Many companies commence IoT product innovation with high hopes, only to end up with their expectations grounded. Just five years ago, Gartner opined that up to 80% of IoT innovations would squander broader market opportunities, and a survey by Cisco found that one-third of IoT projects ended in failure. Since then, the space has only become more crowded, reducing companies’ odds of success. So, what does it take to launch a profitable IoT product in a market that’s becoming more competitive by the minute? What do companies that succeed in the IoT space do differently? Let’s take a look.

They Unlock the Potential of Partner Relationships

Companies often take an overly narrow view of IoT interconnectivity, conceiving it strictly in terms of connecting devices rather than relationships between customers, partners, and suppliers. Developing a successful IoT innovation depends on the same principle required for succeeding in the new sales ecosystem: unlocking the potential of partner relationships. Partnerships are the name of the game, and this means embracing collaborative approaches, eschewing rigid processes, creating open, flexible structures, and working together with diverse stakeholders. And for companies launching medical, industrial, or high-complexity consumer IoT products, agile partners with open IP architectures are table stakes for market success.

At Pivot International, we are a global one-source leader with a diverse suite of the latest wireless, cellular, and sensor product solutions. We bring advanced expertise in developing IoT innovations across fourteen industries and six markets, including medical, industrial, security and defense, sports and entertainment, construction, and agriculture. Now in our 50th year of doing business, we’ve built our reputation on an integrative, streamlined, highly collaborative approach to NPD. By leveraging strategic partnerships in the public and private sectors, we’ve helped our clients launch many of the world’s most celebrated and competitive IoT solutions.

They Attract and Invest in the Next Generation of IoT Talent

Although the development of IoT innovations requires technology skillsets that include data science, systems architecture, and cybersecurity, it’s just as important to prioritize talent that brings people skills and business acumen to the mix. Since IoT stretches across IT, OT, and even core business processes, companies need to invest in well-rounded talent that’s comfortable wearing multiple hats — even if only informally. Invest in an interactive culture of innovation that challenges teams of diverse talent to work together toward synergistic, co-created solutions. These teams should be encouraged, empowered, and incentivized to operate with startup spirit: reconceiving problem spaces, actively engaging in experimentation, and developing emergent visions for future possibilities and growth.

Attracting and investing in the next generation of IoT talent requires looking beyond your own organization, which is why top IoT leaders regularly run internships, engage in educational partnerships, offer scholarships and grants, and sponsor apprenticeships. Pivot is proud to sponsor STAC (the trading name of Filament Smart Things Accelerator), a rapidly expanding IoT organization dedicated to helping Scottish startups scale to sustainable, globally competitive companies. STAC supports startups with a four-step, 18-month program that fosters long-term success via personal guidance from industry experts. By lending the design, engineering, manufacturing, and supply chain expertise of Pivot’s Scotland-based subsidiaries, Wideblue and A2E, Pivot invests in the next generation of IoT talent by providing mentorship and direct financial support to fledgling IoT startups.

They Keep the End in Mind

One of the unseen temptations in IoT product development is getting overly focused on product bells and whistles (features and benefits) at the expense of the end goal an innovation is intended to solve. Although this caveat may sound cliche, it explains why many IoT projects fail to fly. Without keeping the end of the IoT journey in mind — using a well-planned yet flexible roadmap for reaching the desired destination — it’s easy to get sidetracked into dead ends that only make themselves known once it’s too late to course correct without incurring sunk costs. Whether this dead end reveals itself as a product that’s not optimized for manufacture, or insufficiently integrated with existing business processes or technology systems, the result is almost certain to negatively impact ROI.

While it’s by no means sufficient for avoiding the broader IoT innovation hazards outlined in this article, DFM (Design For Manufacturing) provides a crucial layer of protection. By definition, DFM begins at the end, optimizing product design for scalable manufacture. This serves to guard against the development of IoT innovations that appear perfect on paper but prove cost-prohibitive to produce. Pivot is one of the few US-based, one-source NPD and supply chain firms to offer the advantages of in-house DFM, and it’s this specialty that provides the guard rails and innovation incubator to keep the IoT journey profitably on track.

Looking to Launch a Successful IoT Innovation?

If you’re gearing up to capture value from the IoT market, Pivot is the partner you’ve been looking for. Our IoT innovations are winners of many prestigious awards, including a CES Innovation Award and AAARP Pitch Award, multiple European Product Design Awards, a Best Design for Humanity Award, and more. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your company scale, contact us today for a no-cost consultation.