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Designing IoT products for success

If the recent unveiling of the iPhone 7 has shown anything, it's that people go crazy over the latest technological innovation. The removal of the headphone jack brought praise, criticism and more than a few jokes. Meanwhile, some couldn't help but wonder: Is this change the first step toward an innovative, industry-wide change or a gimmick designed catch the eye of consumers? Will an iPhone with a missing headphone jack benefit consumers or quickly bore them?

Like the latest iPhone, new products in the world of the Internet of Things attempt to innovate the way people interact with their electronics, using a mix of technology and creativity to design devices that haven't been seen before. Yet, one might wonder whether these new products aren't simply progress for progress's sake. This idea is what drives Beko, a Turkish electronics and appliance company, in its product creation. In a recent conversation with marketing news source The Drum, Ogzu Bayram, Beko's digital marketing manager, said he and his company believe relying on novelty would bring about the downfall of the IoT world. Instead, businesses should focus on creating devices that truly suit people's needs.

What's most interesting is that Beko doesn't rely on what it thinks its customers want. Instead, it asks them outright and uses their feedback in development. 

"Beko are inviting families to help co-create their future appliances through feedback and pretesting, which will ensure their relevance and meaning," Bayram explained to the marketing company.

"Most failed IoT businesses ignored the needs of their customers."

The Harvard Business Review agreed with this idea, stating that most failed IoT businesses didn't succeed because they ignored the needs of their markets and instead focused on selling tech for tech's sake. One such company, Revolv, was so focused on introducing new devices that it never made sure its products actually helped customers. 

Designing products with purpose in mind
What Beko and similar companies should do is design IoT products for a particular use, not to cash in on a fad. Not everyone has the resources to survey their customers want directly, but they can make the most of current opportunities to create something that fulfills an existing need.

One market currently available to IoT companies is the business sector. In fact, many industry experts predict businesses, not consumers, will be the primary adopters of IoT technology over the coming years. Business Insider identified three key ways IoT products can potentially help these companies: by helping them expand into new markets, reducing operating costs and increasing productivity.

IoT companies can take this idea a step further by creating products specifically suited for small businesses. These organizations know the IoT can and will offer benefits - Business Insider cited an AVG survey which found 57 percent of small businesses believe the IoT will help their bottom line. Yet, because small businesses don't have the resources of larger corporations, they may perceive barriers to adopting the technology.

"A subscription business model helps reduce the cost of IoT products."

One such barrier is cost. New tech is always expensive, and smaller enterprises don't have large, flexible budgets. IoT providers can help reduce this burden by using a subscription business model that incorporates the cost of building and operating devices into agreeable monthly payments. This way, tech providers receive the funds they need to continue service and store data while small businesses have an easier time paying for IoT technology.

In addition, IoT products need a design that focuses on user experience, not one that crams a bunch of features into a single device. These electronics should serve a particular need, not all of them. Adding too many features is overwhelming for users - in this case, small-business owners who have a lot on their plate already and often can't be bothered with a confusing set of instructions.

A customer-focused approach is what will catapult the IoT into the mainstream, not rapid development. Companies within the industry can certainly take advantage of new technology to provide to consumers, but they shouldn't sacrifice function in the process.

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