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Developing Smart Products

Original equipment manufacturers are being challenged by start-ups offering similar products with enhanced features and services enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT). Many manufacturers are determining how to make their older products “smart” and connected.  


However, the IoT is a daunting landscape. To help you understand the IoT, Genesys has identified core principles to help you in your journey. Some of these principles are:

These principles are outlined below and more are detailed in our whitepaper, entitled What You Need To Know BEFORE Developing Smart Products.

De-risk your project

by focusing on outcomes

Chess Pieces Close-up

When considering how to leverage IoT in your business or product design, it is easy to focus on the technology, and what new features (bells and whistles) to offer clients. However, this only changes the customer value incrementally and can increase the business risk. The real power of IoT comes from its ability to change business models and the entire value proposition for customers. 

The best way to de-risk your product development is to focus on the outcomes rather than the features. Consider the following questions:

  • How will this product disrupt your industry?

  • What disruptive challenges do you face from competitors, and how can you maintain your edge?

  • How can the measurement of data and the value hidden in it change the kinds of services offered?

  • Look beyond the immediate utility of your product to its role in the entire value/supply chain of your customers. How can your smart product interact with other participants?

  • For what purpose do you need data? Where will it flow to?

Our advice is to focus on core business outcomes and work backwards to business requirements.

De-risk your project

Maximise the viability of your architecture

Be smart about your approach to Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The aim of MVP is to get to market quickly with a minimally featured device and gain feedback for rapid market-led development of your product.

Unfortunately, many start-ups design the architecture of the first device in a way that cuts off future product evolution, guaranteeing higher overall costs and possible blowouts from having to redesign the architecture at every revision. 

A smarter approach is to create a roadmap for your product and make intelligent allowances for future features - what we call maximum viable architecture (MVA).  Aim to hit the sweet spot between MVP and MVA. 

Maximum Viable Architecture benefits.JPG

The Maximum Viable Architecture approach is initially more expensive but leads to lower whole-of-life costs 

Maximum viable architectue

Build your team

It’s impossible for any one individual or company to be expert in all the above technologies. Even large companies employ specialist subcontractors for specialist fields. Part of your task is to determine what skills are required in-house and when to engage external specialists. You need to know enough to be an informed buyer of contract services. In selecting suppliers of services, consider the following:

  • Does the supplier have a quality management system in place? Ask how they guarantee the performance of their deliverables.

  • Does the supplier have engineers with expertise across all of the disciplines your project will require? Does it have reliable partners to fill their skill gaps? Refer to the technical considerations below.

  • Has the supplier done similar projects to yours before? Avoid paying the supplier to learn about technology at your expense.

  • How does your supplier deal with scope creep? Determine their effectiveness in anticipating future requirements and developing a road map, so there are no cost surprises.

Build your team

Choose the best tools for the job

The Internet of Things (IoT) consists of a wide range of technologies, including those illustrated in the diagram.  Broadly speaking the IoT consists of:

In addition there are levels of complexity associated with data modelling, architecture, security and usability to name a few. 

The IoT is a minefield of marketing hype about the benefits of competing platforms. Some people succumb to the hype by specifying business requirement in terms of these particular technologies, regardless of the risk of specific platforms disappearing as the IoT market rationalises. 

A best practice is to systematically determine all the various business requirements and express these in plain English. Engineers can then evaluate all the alternative technologies and architectures before choosing the right tools for the job. 

IOT diagram.JPG
Choose best tools
IoT Whitepaper cover image.PNG

What you need to know BEFORE

Developing Smart Products

The above principles are just a taste of the insights delivered in our white paper titled What you need to know BEFORE Developing Smart Products. 

To view more details, download the whitepaper free of charge by completing the form.


In addition, Genesys Design periodically posts thought leadership blogs and runs educational webinars on product design using Internet of Things technologies.


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