By Abhinav Dubey, Chief Strategy Officer and General Manager – APAC at Ioterra, Inc.
In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, it is liberating to see how the world has embraced the digitization of processes and made adequate use of the technology in hand. For example, the urgency of contactless communications has produced an opportunity for the internet of things (IoT) services providers to reach more users and prove the technology’s utility even in the post COVID era. As a result, the industry is pacing beyond predictions to equate a CAGR of 24.9% in growth till 2027.
The increase in the demand for digital products is an opportunity for IoT product development services to not only hone their expertise further but also contribute to the rapidly expanding digital transformation ecosystem. At the same time, enterprises can resolve their resource crunch (which is an actual issue) using external IoT development services and be assured of an early launch.
Here’s a quick guide to hiring IoT product development partners for your next project.
Utilize Digital Platforms & Communities
The shortage of IoT resources is a real issue. It is this absence of skilled resources and not the pandemic per se that has derailed many ideas. In this survey, 80% of enterprises confirmed they didn’t have the skills to keep their projects in continuity. The resource requirement varies with every IoT project. While few organizations may have an in-house team and need to outsource selective roles, others could be looking for outsourcing the technology work altogether. Therefore, look for those platforms that provide on-demand resources across disciplines and verticals.
Chase all IoT community networks in LinkedIn, Facebook etc. and publish your requirement. You might find groups on these platforms which are dedicated to IoT and digital transformation, and you might get expert advice from the members too. Likewise, put up a requirement on all professional hiring platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer if you are looking for a temporary hire for not so critical aspect of your business.
While there’s a swathe of interactive dashboards to handpick resources, Ioterra brings together the IoT community on a unified network. The platform allows enterprises and individuals to conduct business deals specific to IoT projects. What makes it unique is the low level of filtering IoT talent resources based on discipline, sector, budget and experience. The platform hosts hundreds of IoT development service providers,and professionals engaging every day. It’s like the ‘LinkedIn of IoT professionals and services’.
Apart from these utilizing your personal community networks on other apps and even WhatsApp is always a smart move because your first-degree network comes with inherent trust.
Look for Product Strategy Experience
When you are looking to hire an IoT partner, whether you would be providing the on-paper concept or the post-prototype version of your product idea to the potential vendor partner, testing them for product strategy is a great hack. The ability to decipher business vision and translate it into a working product model speaks volumes about the product development expertise. Right from scoping business objectives to effort estimation, the IoT product development companies you partner with should have the first-hand experience with all.
Business learning is an encyclopedic exercise covering a series of micro-experiments, workshops, schema diagrams and development landscape blueprint. At this stage, you can evaluate the partner for:
- PESTEL Model Analysis – Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental impact of the IoT product.
- SWOT Analysis – The product’s Strength, Weakness, Opportunity & Threat with respect to trends in the IoT market.
- Effort Estimation Analysis – Total number of resources deployed by the total number of days.
- Compliance Analysis – Experience in product specs modification as per different regional regulations.
Also the Prototyping Experience
A functionally working prototype is the approval of the product’s core and subsequently the official reference for the developers. If an organization gets the prototyping right then they are most likely to do the product development as required. Since IoT development is complicated involving hardware development, software development and wireless infrastructure development, prototyping is an important phase here.
The development partner should be well versed with the following objectives:
- Quickly iterate with the various prototypes or PoCs.
- Experiment, validate and finalize expected outcomes as per the feasibility document.
- Test the PoC with the users across scenarios.
- Lock the resource requirements based on effort estimation.
The prototyping is done at the following levels:
UI : Build a front-end display to validate accurate data population and system responsiveness with a focus on first-hand customer experience (CX).
Hardware Components : Develop PCBs and all hardware integrations to validate the production-ready configuration.
Backend : Approve the correctness of the backend system driving the business logic.
Wireless communication : Ensure seamless communication of data to and from the IoT hardware all the way up to the IoT cloud.
Breakdown the Resource Requirement
Based on the Product Requirements Document (PRD) and other project details shared, asks the IoT product development partner to break down the resource requirement. This will help in two ways – firstly the vendor’s effort estimation skills will be evaluated and secondly, their resource readiness will be known. Ideally, any IoT development project, regardless of the scale, should involve the following resources:
- Mechanical Engineers : Design & develop the physical infrastructure including hardware components and casing.
- Firmware Engineers : Architect, evaluate and develop the software for the exchange of data in real-time.
- Electrical engineers : Design the circuit boards and all-electric components.
- Mobile and web application development experts
- Cloud provisioning experts
- Security experts
- Product Quality Expert
- (IQC) Incoming quality control
- (OQC)Outgoing quality control
- (IPQC)In-process quality control
Please note that one development partner may not have all the expert resources stated above. In such a case, the partner may subcontract part of the project with your permission or you can use various tools to find separate product development companies for a specific expert area.
Evaluate for Credible Content
It is not incorrect to believe that the web is overwhelmed with misleading content. Like any emerging technology, IoT has fallen prey to untrustworthy organizations that go over-the-top in their marketing jargon. As a result, it becomes difficult for the service seekers to decide between serious developers and others who are just chasing their professional targets.
How do you cut the clutter and reach a like-minded product partner?
As far as content is concerned, always look beyond generic content in blogs and other resources. Ask for case studies that detail an organization’s experience with similar projects in the past and other metrics related to the timely execution of the project. Next, ask for a detailed portfolio of their previous projects necessarily in IoT and possibly testimonials from the previous customers. Make sure you consider a reputed platform that publishes credible and accurate reviews. Since Ioterra is devoted to the industry in focus, it is a great platform to streamline the most appropriate partners.
Apart from vendor proposals, make sure you have your own whitepaper done. It is the master document of your business objectives and must be utilized as an RFP. Share your whitepaper with the vendors and seek proposals ideas.
Finding the right IoT product development partner can be a business maker or breaker deal for you. Most IoT products didn’t reach the markets because they were not developed appropriately at the right price at the right time. Amidst the growing preference for contactless communications, IoT is a promising investment only if you provide the expertise it deserves.
Author’s Bio : The author of this blog is Abhinav Dubey. Abhinav is an entrepreneur, a strategist and a technologist at heart. With over 10 years of industry experience at the likes of Honeywell and AMD, and over 5 years of experience in IoT with a successful startup exit. Abhinav holds an MBA from the University of Oxford, U.K, and MS from Christ University, Bangalore. He currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer and General Manager – APAC at Ioterra, Inc.
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