The Long Term Obligations of (DIY) IoT

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By Ryan Lester. Director of IoT Strategy at Xively

When it comes to an IoT infrastructure*, if you decide to embark on the project yourself, many of the real problems begin after the product launches. So often, much of the time and resource becomes dedicated to the technical part of the IoT and the organization’s long-term impacts become an afterthought. So let’s walk through what those obligations are:


Constant Connectivity

In today’s 24/7, always-on economy, customers have come to expect constant connectivity. This is especially true when replacing traditionally non-connected products. If the backend isn’t working, your smart connected product at best is no better than the dumb product your customer was trying to replace, and totally nonfunctional at worst. Are you (both technically and organizationally) ready for 24/7 monitoring and consistent uptime? If not, the consequences can be steep — customer churn and reputation damage will certainly be an issue.

Frequent Product Updates

We’ve said it time and time again — the days of shipping a product and forgetting it are over. Connected products need to be consistently updated to meet the requirements of today’s rapidly changing software landscape. Sure, adding new features to the product is a great way to provide customers with added value, but even if there are no new features on the roadmap, staying on top of security updates alone is a full-time job.

It is estimated that the recent Heartbleed bug in OpenSSL, which affected almost all web services, collectively cost more than $500 million. Keeping up with disclosures and patching them requires employing at least a couple developers on staff for that purpose alone. This can easily add hundreds of thousands dollars to the long-term costs of keeping your platform running, but the costs of ignoring these updates is even higher.


Maintaining Legacy Systems

As companies grow their connected product portfolio, new requirements or scalability issues may require them to build or transition to new platforms — leaving the burden of a legacy system behind. It’s never easy to EOL a product, but even harder with a connected product. They are notoriously difficult to sunset. You can’t just hit the “kill switch” — otherwise, that product your customers invested in literally becomes a brick.

Google’s recent shutdown of the Revolv hub is a classic example of this. They took a lot of heat for making what they believed was a good strategic business decision. But customers of Revolv felt left out in the cold. When you abandon one platform for another – which will inevitably happen with a DIY platform — you have to create a migration path to help customers either update their devices or move to a new platform.

We are really just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the obligations of a connected product. Whether you build your own platform or work with partners, these obligations don’t change. The difference with a DIY strategy is how you are able to deal with them. Learn more about how the Xively business-ready IoT solution can help you skip DIY-ing and expedite the path from concept to connected.

*This post is sponsored by Xively

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