“If you think that the internet has changed your life, think again. The Internet of Things is about to change it all over again!”Mr. Brendan O’Brien
It is very common today, as an illustration of this concept can be achieved through an imagining of the next generation of QR codes, which leverage the physical world to achieve efficient onboarding and information access throughout commerce and society.
Product IoT transformation is a hot topic for many design professionals. And for good reason, since digital technology has the potential and ability to transform any product as we know it. But while it’s one thing to talk about product IoT transformation, it’s an entirely different thing to do it! In today’s article, we dive deeper into the phenomenon of product IoT transformation: what is it, why is it necessary and how do you go about it?
What is product IoT transformation?
Product IoT transformation is the process of changing any product to become connected with a digital platform which is able to provide additional value to the customer and becoming data-driven.
The challenge is about taking up the dual challenge of transforming the product on the one hand, and transforming the customer's experience on the other. So, rather than digital transformation being just about the product team, it’s a metamorphosis that involves organizations as a whole. Or at least it should, in order for it to be successful.
The Why of Product IoT Transformation
First things first. As a rule of thumb, any transformation, whether it is a digital one or not, has to take place with a clear objective in mind. It has to make business sense.
Too often still, companies seem to give in to peer pressure; their competitors all ‘do digital’ so they feel like they have to do something too. But digitalizing your product just for the sake of it is never a good idea. It leads to the implementation of (expensive) technology that doesn’t meet the actual needs of the business. Needless to say, this totally defies the purpose of a transformation.
Examples of Product IoT Transformation
Near field communication (NFC) is a popular technology being used more and more everyday all over the world with new and exciting applications. Fast and convenient, NFC technology is popular in parts of Europe and Asia and is quickly spreading throughout the world.
Orange Tranport Application
Orange is one of the largest operators of mobile and internet services in Europe and a global leader in corporate telecommunication services.The Orange NFC Transport allows you to safely have your tickets and payment cards in the SIM of your mobile. From the transport application, you can buy your tickets with your mobile, wherever you want, without queues, 24 hours. The NFC video gives a demo of how traveling can be made easier with Orange NFC Transport.
Iggesbund Paperboard Device
Iggesund Paperboard is a commission company of the Holmen Group and Europe’s third largest manufacturer of high quality virgin fibre paperboard. They make two of the world’s leading paperboard brands, Invercote and Incada. They are preferred by some of the most demanding brand owners in the world for their durability and design versatility. The foundation aims make products forest-sustainable. The NFC device video demonstrates how Iggesbund uses NFC to enhance their client’s products.
WhizTags is a young, Australian tech startup aiming to sell highest quality products. WhizTags are water-resistant NFC tags which allow you to carry them without fear of getting wet. Their tags are constructed from rigid PVC and are designed to survive in a variety of different environments. The NFC device video gives an introduction to some quick uses of NFC WhizTags.
While all of this sounds good in theory, it can seem pretty daunting when it comes to making that first step towards an Product IoT transformation. So here are a few ingredients for a successful start:
Tell a compelling digital strategy story
A major step is connecting digital transformation to meaning. As with any transformation, employees must understand what it is they need to support before you can drive buy-in and adoption. Tell a story.
Alignment is the most important step to a successful transformation, and it needs to be supported from the top down
Align transformation with business goals
Again, before going off on a big transformational journey, first establish a clearly defined goal that makes sense from a business perspective. Most of the time, this goal will be to solve an issue.
That’s why, in a process of IoT transformation, the focus should always be on the customer end. It’s also why you want to let your employee test any new technology themselves first before you implement it.
CEOs and boards need to communicate that the move to digital is the right strategy, outline the right outcomes, and mitigate the fear of the ‘substitutional effect’ whereby former processes or products get replaced by new or digital ones. Further, digital transformation cuts across every function and every budget, and all functional teams need to be on board. Transformation cannot be driven out of IT only; rather it must be fully aligned with the organization’s overall path, goals, mission, heritage, and planned future.
Identify the skills mix you need in IT
This means all stakeholders, from sales employees to the C-suite and everyone in between. When it comes to a dproduct IoT transformation – something that will affect the entire organization – you need all the support you can get in order for it to become a success.
Top management must ask themselves who are the people we need? What skill sets do we need to develop? It’s incredibly important to identify not just capabilities but competencies. On the capabilities front, of course, your organization needs data scientists, full-stack developers, user experience experts, and so forth.
Enterprises need to retool their IT department to move away from some of the commodity skills to more forward-looking capabilities that align with the company strategy. In addition, there is an ongoing need to build competencies that augment your skills, especially around business acumen. Your team may have the best UX person around, but if they aren’t competent with your business acumen, you won’t be successful.
Always start simple and small. Look at the areas of your product that could do with a digital makeover (product maintenance, product authetnication, product info, online re-purchase, promotion and so on). Talk about this with your employees and the members of the C-suite. Ask them what they think should be a priority.
No matter how little the transformation is, it is likely that it includes changing or breaking processes that have been in place and have worked well at some point, changing how stakeholders interact with their clients, even changing their roles. Finding ways of bringing the entire group on the same journey through major disruption is critical. Be sure to identify both obvious and non-obvious stakeholder groups. Even if it does not seem so from the outset, they are very important to the success of your digital transformation initiative.
Test it, Test it, Test it!
To get stakeholder buy-in, take the time to run proofs-of-concept and pilots before moving forward with any solid plan. If the technology you’re deploying is new to your business, it is always more difficult to anticipate how things will work. Be realistic up-front and build many stakeholder checkpoints into the plan to ensure transparent progress is being made. This will help ensure your stakeholders are actually ready for the journey, while your organization, team, and partners are learning how to implement effectively and successfully.
This will undoubtedly result in a long list of ideas. Prioritize them based on impact and effort. The former meaning the business impact of digitalizing the ideas and the latter meaning the time and money it would take to actually get the ideas to go digital.
Many companies are chasing digital products and offerings that don’t add business value at the end of the day – not unlike that fancy fondue set collecting dust on top of your fridge.
Start with the ideas that are high impact and low effort. They will help you build the business case for making an IoT transformation and get you going quickly.
To succeeded, you must link innovation to a big-picture vision, make experimenting easy for employees, and share responsibilities among everyone with a stake in the innovation.
Trying and implementing digital technologies is great, but doesn’t make much business sense if we don’t look at their results. Hence we need to critically assess what works and what doesn’t.
After all, the only way for us to advance is to solve actual problems with technological solutions that truly solve these problems.
Master risk management
Everything about digital transformation and disruptive business models seems to go against the traditional IT concepts of risk containment and controls. Digital transformation is about moving fast, challenging the status quo, and developing and scaling new technologies and operational mindsets.
Mangement who have mastered this aspect of disruptive change are more likely to be managing a successful transformation program
Digital technology alone is not enough for a product IoT transformation. Let alone a digital transformation of an entire organization. It’s just as much – perhaps even more – about the mindset of everyone involved. And that has everything to do with your company culture.
From the new people you hire, via your current workforce all the way up to the C-level, a digital mindset – in the broadest sense of the word – is essential for a successful transformation.
Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation
Without addressing culture, transformation will probably fail. At its heart, this is a people challenge. Do you have the right culture to adopt change? To accept risk and tolerate failure? To embrace new ways of doing things, like new ways of working or new technologies? To accept speed over perfection for some (not all) initiatives? Overlooking cultural change is the biggest mistake in a digital transformation.
On a Final Note
You may have heard that 70 percent of digital transformations fail. The truth in this stat depends on how you define failure: According to Korn Ferry’s Melissa Swift, it’s more likely the majority of those efforts are simply stuck versus completely doomed. Still, it doesn’t inspire much confidence for those organizations just getting started.
We know the possibilities of digital technologies are enticing and that mounting competitive pressure creates urgency. But don’t rush into digital transformation without first laying a solid foundation for success.
“Give your product IoT transformation efforts the best chance to succeed by building a strong strategy!”