It's been over 6 months since I joined KritiLabs. The learning that I have had been very steep and intense, considering its a career shift for me from a services based pre-sales to a product based pre-sales and product management.
KritiLabs' core proposition has been to help solve some of the real world Remote Asset Management problems using IoT. As part of my initial 30 days to further understand their DNA, I was involved in understanding the products, the people & teams behind it, the customers we work with.
Below is my perspective, based on what I had learned till date, on what is essential to make a hardware product succeed for mass adoption in industries which are still following decades old systems and processes:
With IoT, it is very easy to reduce the user involvement within a process to a zero. Our products have been designed specifically for the non- tech savvy folks who take care of running the backbone of our country's logistics - truck drivers, commercial vehicle drivers etc. We felt taking some of the decisions out of their hands would make these users feel demotivated, as they are no longer empowered to take decisions as part of the process, resulting in lower adoption of these devices in such an industry or a business process.
In such situations it is always prudent to empower the users to take decisions or operate these devices based on the information the device provides to these users, while logging their activities as part of audit trail.
Regular user feedback is essential to help improve the product not only from improving the product's experience but also for product iterations which can solve additional use cases within the same business process. To create a new product / device, we follow a very specific methodology to bring the product / device to fruition (more on this process in the next blog). As part of this process, when we create a prototype, we either deploy it on the field along with an existing product to to get user feedback or we work with one of our customers to help get that feedback.
We have seen that getting user feedback has helped make the product very robust and functionally closer to an ideal solution.
Better design & integration testing of hardware
Unlike software products, where certain features of the product can be rolled back, issues related directly to the firmware and hardware are not that easy to be solved through a simple update. It’s actually a better strategy to invest more in the design and test phase for better integration of the hardware & software as well as ensuring no issues related to hardware creep in production
One of the corner stones for success for a product when newly introduced is beta phase or a pilot phase. Especially with regards to hardware, the chances of it failing outside of a controlled environment is way higher. In our pilots at KritiLabs we have seen multiple points of failure right from the vagaries of nature to human ingenuity to ensure the product fails in meeting its objectives.
Success of the pilot doesn't hinge on the success / failure of the product during pilot, but amount of feedback and data it can collect during the pilot. This data and feedback must be fed back to product / solution development
These are some of the key things, when done right can help improve mass adoption of IOT devices in areas which still follow processes and systems which are decades old.
Hope you found these points interesting.
A version of this article was published in my linkedin pulse feed https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/iot-product-management-critical-success-factors-kishore-v/