6 Strategies for Outsourcing IoT
No movement has shaken up the tech industry quite like the Internet of Things. Building machine-to-machine (M2M) devices is arguably the most complicated level of development right now because most developers just do not have experience writing concurrent code to make several devices talk.
Outsourcing could be the way to make IoT development attainable for your enterprise. Enlisting the help of external resources can downplay the investment involved and allow you to test efficiently before committing long term. It can also solve several problems that accompany IoT development, such as limited knowledge, resources, and creativity. Plus, outside perspectives often see potential opportunities that were not visible from within.
IoT is a challenging, nascent space, and finding qualified developers and vendors who can make sense of it is equally demanding. To succeed in IoT through outsourcing, you have to know what to look for.
Here are six factors to keep in mind:
1. Develop a strong business model. Your buyer must understand your business objective before you can invest in IoT. This starts with developing a strong business model. As part of your due diligence, perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine where it makes the most sense to outsource.
2. Focus on your strengths. It is easy to get caught up in doing things outside your area of expertise in the name of innovation and expansion. Make sure you allocate internal resources toward your core competencies and outsource anything beyond your team’s comfort zone. In the IoT world, these typically include tasks such as connectivity management, certification processes, and even some support and logistics functions. If you stick to what you do well, you won't have to worry about getting caught up in the nitty-gritty details of the IoT space.
3. Plan for growth. Enterprises generally excel at scaling and adoption. Separate your company by outsourcing research to glean as much insight as possible from your captive audience and gain a clear advantage over other IoT players. Most service providers can easily handle deployments on the micro level, but scaling micro deployment to the macro level is the real trick.
4. Seek out partners with a proven track record. IoT is about fusing together a number of historically different elements into one seamless solution or experience. Arming yourself with guidance from those who have tackled these challenges is crucial to your success in this space. For example, a carrier such as Verizon or AT&T has its own set of regulations and certifications for launching an M2M device, separate from governing boards. For someone who does not have experience working through those certifications and approvals, deploying that solution can take a long, costly detour. Many players in the IoT game talk big but do not deliver. They try to capitalize on trendy buzzwords rather than backing up their talk with output. Weed out the duds to see who has actually accomplished something remarkable in the IoT.
5. Target partners with flexible options. Having access to adaptable pricing, connectivity, technology options, and other solutions is important because products inevitably morph into something more evolved than their original concepts. Partners must be able to keep up as scopes are altered.
6. Consider post-deployment support. Incompetent customer and product support can potentially cripple long-term success. Make sure to answer strategic support questions involving capability and cost before deployment. Your enterprise should evaluate the required level of support and whether it is sustainable internally.
Approaching the outsourcing decision with these key strategies in mind will help pave the way to success for all parties involved. When designing for something as new, exciting, and complex as the IoT, companies need to rely on their peers to fill in any gaps in expertise and knowledge. Talk to other buyers who have been in your shoes and can serve up wisdom to learn from.
Outsourcing is an essential part of IoT product development. For a market that is expected to triple by 2020, you would be wise to thoughtfully select the right processes to outsource and choose an experienced partner. With a healthy dose of research and careful planning, you and your partner can work to your separate strengths and produce something innovative together.
About the Author:
Alex Brisbourne is CEO of KORE, the world’s largest wireless network provider focused exclusively on the rapidly expanding machine-to-machine communications market. He is a prolific speaker and opinion leader and is frequently sourced as an expert on machine communications. Follow the company on Twitter @KoreTelematics