Product design
27 April 2021

1st IoT deployment: What can I expect?

Your company has decided to embark on an IoT transition. You are part of the project for this first deployment. However, you don’t fully understand the subject matter or the areas of expertise you will need. What can you expect

Your company has decided to embark on an IoT transition. You are part of the project for this first deployment. However, you don’t fully understand the subject matter or the areas of expertise you will need.

What can you expect from this type of complex project? How do you go about it and where do you start? What are the crucial points to anticipate?

We’ve put together a summary of the project process with advice on how to get involved and manage the project.

 

The birth of your project

Why did you launch this project? How did this project come about?

You have chosen a connected solution to add value to your product or your organisation and your internal processes.

If you are at this point today – about to start the first phase of your project launch – it is because you have studied and measured the ROI of this intelligent solution.

This is what motivated you to carry out this project. You can find our article on estimating the ROI of an IoT project which will give you some answers if you have any doubts.

Your teams will have carried out extensive preliminary work during which they have studied the market and the competing products, as well as analysed the added value that your product should bring and collected feedback from users, etc.

Everything has been put together to create not the perfect product, but the product that would make the difference and for which you have monetised its added value.

 

The different stages to reach the finished product

To reach the finished product, a succession of phases and major stages must be followed, none of which should be minimised.

 

Defining uses

You have defined all the services that your product should offer to its users.

You have succeeded in materialising the reasons why your product must exist and extracting its main functions – what it will bring more than before and what it will bring more than its competitors.

Once you have done this, you can move on to designing your product.

 

Designing your product

Now that you have a clear idea of your product, you can concentrate on its main features and their implementation.

For each feature, you will define technical characteristics and assess challenges, risks and performance criteria.

With this step, you have a clearer vision of your product and you are ready to start developing it.

 

Development

This is the practical phase. During this phase, the functionalities are put in place, relying on the different business skills: mechanics, hardware, cloud, software, etc.

During this phase, a project leader organises and synchronises the various development phases and several progress points with the client.

The objective is to obtain a functional prototype within the given timeframe with the allocated resources.

 

Industrialisation

Once the prototype is obtained, there may be a V2 or even a V3 to correct small imperfections or to pass the targeted tests and certifications. But your product has reached its goal. It is ready for mass production. 

The next step is to have a manufacturer accompany you in the production process.

You thought you had crossed the finish line? You have experienced the birth of your product. Now it is up to your customers or users to discover it. And this next phase will be crucial and equally as long (or so we hope!).

> Learn more about the stages of industrialisation of an intelligent product.

 

The operation

Once the finished product is in your hands, this is just the beginning!

The development may have seemed long. All those months of fine-tuning, questioning, and doubts…

You feel like you’ve finally crossed the finish line with the launch of your product.

In reality, this is where it all really begins for you. This is where the marathon begins! Because you will have to manage this fleet of connected products, process the associated data, if there any, and maintain your solution, if necessary.

The distribution and marketing of your products must have been worked out by your sales and marketing teams.

But there is an important technical part of tracking these items that you will need to have planned in detail. 

This is what is known as the management of your fleet of objects. This is where the cloud interface you have developed will be used to track all the desired data. This is what will allow you to evolve or even add a service later; after having observed your product working in the hands of your users and having collected some additional feedback.

Example of an object tracking cloud interface

Here are some examples of what you will be able to manage with this tracking platform:

  • Remote maintenance with alert management
  • The commissioning of your products in the hands of users
  • The life and evolution of your products and services:
    • The identification and even the location of these products: among your fleet of objects, you will need to know which ones are active
    • In most cases, a connected product will undergo changes, updates and bug fixes. We advise you to plan an operating procedure, or even to have simulated one before deploying your products.

This may be what motivated the development of your IoT transition and your product, in which case customer service and after-sales service take on their full meaning.

You then set up a support team for your customers and to be able to intervene on several subjects in case of need (help with commissioning, troubleshooting and maintenance of products,…).

 

Business Intelligence (BI)

In some cases, the data generated from your objects, combined with other information, will constitute the raison d’être of your project and will be of great value to your company.

In this case, you will have anticipated from the outset that the data returned must be interpreted, processed and linked to other business or operational data. This is what we call Business Intelligence.

 

The distribution of your objects

In an IoT project, we call deployment the phase where the objects are distributed to users. 

There can be 2 types of deployment: 

  • Pilot deployments – the product is deployed to a sample of users. These users will test the product in real conditions.
  • Final deployment – the product is released to the market

We talk more about this in this video.

Watch the video

 

A technical environment that can be complex

Behind your intelligent product lies a multitude of professions and skills to establish this connectivity:

  • Hardware – for everything that enables the design of the electronic board, its routing, its preparation for certification and its industrialisable version
  • Firmware – for everything concerning connectivity. This is the integration of modules or microcontrollers that will contain the data from the sensors integrated into the electronic board
  • The Cloud – to set up a graphic interface that will format the data from your objects
  • Mobile – if you have chosen to make a mobile application available to your users
  • Mecha – this will involve the design, modelling and industrialisation of what will constitute the outer shell of your product. This is where the visual identity of your product comes into play. This plays an important role and is often the first thing you and your team will have in mind before the project is launched.
  • R&D for questions of machine learning, artificial intelligence and other specialised subjects
  • Finally, and we could have started with this because it is a step to think about upstream of the project, the cybersecurity issues: having previously defined the desired and desirable level of security for your users, in order to protect and secure your product

> You can also find out more about the Rtone professions here.

You may not be familiar with all of the skills, or even any of them. But that won’t stop you from seeing this project through to the end.

It is important to surround yourself with people and to appoint an internal project manager who can coordinate the various providers and tasks.

As far as suppliers are concerned, you have several choices. We have prepared a summary for you in this article.

If you have chosen several providers, the designated project leaders will have to coordinate and synchronise with each other. If you have chosen a global provider, the project leader will be like the conductor of your product.

> Read the following article on choosing a provider for your IoT project

The role of the project leader is crucial. It is they who give the direction, who will keep the course, who gives the vision and who imposes the rhythm and synchronises the trades according to the deadline and the budget. They are the real guarantor of the project.

 

Keep in mind the value of your product to your user

You should always keep in mind the value that your product will bring.

This will ensure that you are not tempted by a nice exhaustive list of dream features!

This is where the result of your future ROI is at stake. The closer you get to a functional product (and therefore one that addresses a key issue) that will be brought to market quickly, the more you can hope to achieve your targeted ROI. By keeping these objectives in mind, your product will inevitably be more profitable than a product that will take months to perfect with all the features you dream of.

Furthermore, the advantage of a connected product is that you can plan to make changes, updates or even add new services remotely, once your product is in the hands of its users. A product on the market will always be better than a perfect product!

To ensure that your connected solution meets your expectations and that your IoT transition delivers the expected return on investment, we follow a guiding question:

  • What do you want the product to do?
  • What are the end user’s uses?
  • What are the benefits/gains of the product?

These questions are essential to maintain alignment at all stages of your IoT journey, as detailed above. This is one of the principles of the Agile methods that we implement together with our clients throughout the project. We explain how this manifests itself in the next point.

 

An open mind for a flexible and efficient organisation

Beyond technical skills, we would like to draw your attention to a point that is too often neglected and yet essential for the success of such a project: the mindset. 

An IoT transition involves many changes. Sometimes, these changes will even profoundly modify the structure of your services and internal processes of your company.

It is essential to be clear about this as soon as possible. 

Aware of these changes, and to prepare you for this, we at Rtone approach each project with the mindset of Agility.

What does this mean? 

We work around sprints.

In concrete terms, we “cut” the product development into several short periods called “sprints”. During each sprint, we will develop a feature (or sometimes simply move forward in the technical development) – the priority of which will always have been defined beforehand.

This way of working allows us to organise ourselves around a common framework and scope (rather than a set of specifications). The key criteria, their value attributes, a budget and a deadline are agreed upon with the client.

In our opinion, this method offers the best safety – performance – innovation ratio. 

At Rtone, every project starts with a sprint 0 to define all this together. We explain how we apply this method in more detail in this article on Agile methods. 

In this way, all the players move forward with the same level of understanding of the issues and with the same objectives!

Since examples are more meaningful, we talk about this method and the subject of project performance in the ENOVAP client case.

> To go further, download the ENOVAP case study.

 

Conclusion

To summarise this article, here are the principles to follow for a successful first IoT deployment:

  • Anticipate the main development phases
  • Do not underestimate the product life cycle, once it is on the market
  • Always keep in mind the targeted ROI and the value brought to the user by your product
  • The importance of business synchronisation
  • Enable flexible working to overcome potential obstacles.

You now know a little more about an IoT launch and first deployment. This world may seem new to you, but you now have the keys to making this project a success.

Un peu de lecture

Des articles, des podcasts, des webinars… et surtout des conseils pratiques ! En bref, une collection de ressources pour mener à bien votre projet.

Start-ups cette offre est pour vous ! Bénéficiez d'un accompagnement intensif de 2 à 4 semaines à prix coûtant ⭐