As the leader of an IoT solutions company, Fingoti, I have experienced and witnessed many challenges whilst developing our new gateway product, the Pebl. I wanted to share with you the top 5 mistakes to look out for when developing a gateway IoT device for consumer use and how we avoided them…
1. SECURITY, OR RATHER, LACK OF
Where IoT is concerned, it’s simple. If it’s not secure, then stop and redesign. There is a huge stigma around the use of non-secure IoT devices and products. If your product is not secure from end-to-end (from edge to server) then it's likely not to make much of an impact on your market. Users are increasingly reluctant to even go near non-secure IoT devices, and let’s be honest can you blame them?!
Developing a non-secure IoT device was something people turned a blind eye to 5 years ago, not now.
It’s a must. The reason why so many IoT products fall at the first hurdle. Make it secure, or don’t bother.
During the design and development of the Pebl, we worked with the fundamental understanding that security was the deciding factor on almost everything we did. Be sure to use either a well-established method of data management, either an existing cloud or service, or if your developing your own, make sure cyber security is your number one consideration!
2. SPREADING YOUR PRODUCT TOO THIN
There are some instances where a very particular specification is demanded for IoT products. These are often for bespoke solutions that are determined by the hardware and software they will be used for.
However, we all like a good all-rounder, a product that can do everything and anything, right?!
Of course we do, they’re usually more affordable because they’re mass produced, but don’t push it too far. There are endless numbers of protocols being used in the IoT world and its impossible to cater to them all.
Standardisation is a big deal for us at Fingoti. Rather disappointingly, like with most fast-emerging technology, the IoT industry hasn’t a universal standard. We have had to adopt this shortfall and design the Pebl to provide an extremely simplistic yet powerful protocol in the hope that it will be gradually adopted.
Decide what your product will do. Is it for a particular solution? Or is it a universal gateway device? Or something else?
The Pebl was designed as an extremely universal IoT product, but one of the traps we were keen to avoid was trying to make it too universal. You’ll over complicate it and actually this becomes a drawback rather than an advantage. Choose your market, identify their use cases and then provide a solution that meet both in the middle somewhere.
3. PRODUCT LIMITATIONS ARE A TURN OFF
This is a difficult one. It very much depends on your business model. IoT companies need to generate a turnover, of course. But from experience, its damn right annoying when the product you’ve just purchased costs you further to access all of its functionality.
For Fingoti, the IoT is about providing imaginative solutions to endless problems, using a limitless selection of possibilities. We arrived at the conclusion that our devices and services should offer full functionality for a reasonable amount of usage. Our Fingoti Portal is now free to use!
Understandably, this is not applicable to all IoT applications, but its needs to be considered. There’s nothing worse than having your imagination throttled. Find another way to do it without irritating your customers.
4. LEAVING YOUR CUSTOMERS IN THE DARK
It’s all well and good if you have the world's best IoT device/cloud/solution but without your support, your customers will feel abandoned and unsupported. Despite the Pebl being one of the easiest IoT devices on the market to use, we’ve allocated a team of people ready with the answers to questions our customers will undoubtably have. Be prepared for every question under the sun, from “It won’t turn on.”, to “How can I use the data reporting to talk to my central process management database?”.
Providing a reliable and sound customer relation is key. Many providers of IoT hardware will overlook this aspect of delivering an IoT solution. Just a detailed user guide won’t cut it. You have to be supporting technical queries as quickly as possible. Consumers love a hand to hold, and rightly so.
5. IF IT BREAKS, SO DOES YOUR REPUTATION
Reliability. One of the most underrated aspects of IoT. Your product does all these wonderful things, but does it do them every time, without failure? Are these failures isolated or is this part of a wider epidemic?!
Hardware failures could cost thousands to a business running state of the art process monitoring analytic software. This is a relatively easy one to protect yourself from. Ensure you have done your best to make the solution, whether that’s hardware, software or both, the best it can be.
Users have limited patience for unreliable kit and are likely to toss it aside.
During the development of the Pebl, we had a particular bug that caused the device to reboot erratically. It only happened twice over a period of 4 months. Not good enough. It had to be eradicated for us to move forward. It took a while for us to find the problem and solve it but it’s not something we could overlook.
Users will be and are looking for a solution that is hassle free. When things start breaking, your reputation is tarnished, almost irreversibly. Get it right now, and don’t take the chance that an issue will be overlooked.
I hope that these points will help developers of IoT products and services. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the endless possibilities of IoT and just taking a step back to look at the bigger pictures can sometimes make all the difference. Please be sure to stop by fingoti.com and take a look at what we’re doing, it’s all getting quite exciting!
George Reburn has 10 years of experience as a mechanical engineer for various global medical, mining, marine and aerospace industries. This experience led George to become the founder and CEO of Ingoti, an innovative IoT technology company based in the UK that provides secure, affordable and universal IoT products and services.