Smart Products: What They Are in 2019 and How to Build Them

The global number of connected devices is constantly growing. In 2015, there were over 15 billion IoT gadgets, while in 2018 their quantity exceeded 23 billion. By 2025, the number of smart home appliances is expected to reach and exceed 75 billion. More and more companies try to join this evolution, but only 26% of them succeed. Keep reading to discover what features a smart gadget must have in 2019, and what things to avoid when working on the strategy of transforming a traditional product into the smart one.

Definition of a Smart Device

Before we go to the nuances of smart product management, let us give you a definition of a smart device — it is a context-aware gadget able to perform computing and connect to other gadgets without constant human intervention. Key features of a smart device are connectivity, user interaction, autonomy, context-awareness and data storage.

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Key features of "smart device"sorted by mentions in literature

Here are a few examples. While ordinary clothes provide their owners only with comfort and style, QUS smart shirt collects all the important data about a user’s body (heart rate, breathing rate, calorie consumption, etc.) and, therefore, helps to optimise training sessions. And while ordinary locks require people to be present right in front of them, Nest x Yale lock allows users to unlock their doors from anywhere.

What Features a Good Smart Device Should Have

To create a successful smart product, it is essential to know what features it should have. Here are the most important of them in 2019.

The technical side features are rather obvious:

1. Security

When it comes to smart gadgets, security is one of the most significant concerns — users don’t want their data to be stolen and used to control their smart locks or cameras. Moreover, 75% of users are ready to pay more for extra security.

2. Interoperability

In simple words, interoperability is an ability of a smart gadget to communicate with other smart gadgets and systems (for example, with Amazon Echo). “Sociability” of your product can increase its prospects for success and, at the same time, make it more convenient for users. Although, implementing such a solution will make the development process more complicated.

And here are some features users expect smart products to have:

3. Reliable Internet connection

A poor connection is among the main reasons why users are not satisfied with a device. For example, the QUS shirt we mentioned earlier saves all the data to the cloud. But what would happen if the connection is not stable and the information is lost? Obviously, an unlucky user will be dissatisfied with their smart device.

4. Remote accessibility

Ability to control a smart gadget from anywhere is another important feature to keep in mind — in this way, your product will become more convenient to use. However, to achieve this goal, you will also have to develop a relevant app.

5. Energy efficiency

Energy consumption is a pretty hot topic nowadays, so even the most useful and interesting device won’t become popular enough in case it consumes loads of energy. To avoid this danger and to save your future users from terrifying electricity bills, equip your gadget with a sleep mode.

6. Ease of use

Your smart device should be intuitive and easy to use — users never appreciate a need to spend too much time on figuring out how to use a gadget.

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Traps and Dangers a Product Manager Should Avoid

Developing a smart device is a rather challenging task, and there are enough dangers waiting for you. They can significantly postpone the release date and affect your budget, so it is better to avoid them. Here are some of the mistakes you should avoid at all cost.

Prioritising an App Instead of a Device

Most smart products are accompanied by apps which allow using them remotely. However, designing and developing the gadget itself is a much more complicated project stage than working on the app. That’s why it is more efficient to start with the device, and move to the app development at least after its design will be completely ready.

Not Paying Attention to the Longevity of the Product Components

When looking for hardware components, choose those ones which have pretty long service life — otherwise, the device itself may break down at any time due to a failure of a single part. And if you choose the wrong manufacturer, this problem may happen even before the product is released. Besides, make sure that the chosen components are, and will be available at the market in sufficient quantity and for a long time.

Forgetting About Regulatory Requirements

Smart device certification is not something you can save your time and budget on. Uncertified products never gain the trust of customers, so carefully plan the certification process at the design stage of the project. The only possible way to cut costs and time here is to choose the pre-certified hardware components.

How to Make a Product Smart

Here are a few steps you need to take in order to successfully transform your traditional product into the smart one.

1. Strategic planning

A well thought-out strategy is a basis of any project’s success, and your smart product is not an exception. This stage involves determining short- and long-term goals, and analysing the industry, your potential customers and competitors, possible opportunities and threats, and your strengths and weaknesses. And while traditional strategic planning usually implies analysing stakeholders, for smart devices it is also essential to find a team to work on your project (if necessary), to decide on suppliers and manufacturers, etc.

2. Working on design and architecture

Both architecture and design are important for smart gadgets, but we still recommend to start with architecture. Smart products are not stylish decorations — they should make their users’ lives easier. Therefore, it is logical to decide on how the product will be working, and only then move to its aesthetics.

3. Implementation

When all the important decisions are made and all the partners are chosen, it is time to put your ideas into practice. Again, the main difference from implementing a traditional product is higher number of stakeholders: a software team, a manufacturer, and suppliers of the parts essential to produce your smart product.

4. Management

Managing smart projects can be complicated, as such products are combinations of hardware and software. So if there is no person in your team with all the essential skills, we recommend to find an external expert. In this way, your smart project will managed professionally, while you and your team will gain some experience.

5. Maintenance

Smart products are usually easier to maintain than the traditional ones — for instance, thanks to sensors, they can be monitored right in the field. However, there is also a potential challenge — in case your supplier face some problems and close down, you will lose the source of parts essential for your smart product’s maintenance. To avoid this issue, choose those suppliers who have already established themselves on the market.

6. Data analytics

Data analytics is definitely a must for your business — it can help you to make better decisions and, therefore, to reduce marketing expenses and increase sales of your smart product. And just like in the case of management, you and your team have to collect the data both about hardware and software. Working only on one of these sectors won’t bring you the desired result.

7. Technical support

Obviously, any product needs technical support, and when it comes to smart devices, it is crucial to provide support both on the device itself and its app, if applicable. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your team has all the essential experts and is ready to solve any customers’ problems.

Moving from traditional products to the smart ones may seem to be challenging, but now you can use our guide to deal with this process. Keep following our blog to be aware of the latest news on smart products and their development.

26 Sep 2019
Anastasia Lushyna / Business Development Expert
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