Published 23. Mar. 2017

IoT Product Development

IoT product development challenges existing R&D thinking and enables more impactful product development.
Innovations and R&D



CCTV cameras were used in the autumn 2016 attack, which caused Internet domain names to collapse. As there will be an estimated 50B IoT devices by 2020, that poses a rather alarming scenario for R&D in 2017. To make sense of it, we would like to present some IoT product development issues and discuss plausible solutions.

Product development in the IoT world has gotten more demanding, agile, and global. Meeting deadlines have become more challenging, due to shorter product lifecycles and shifting buyer behavior. The underlying evolving IoT technology is enabling new functions. Based on Moore’s Law, the computing power in IoT devices keeps growing and this increasing computational power enables a more complex running of algorithms and more autonomous IoT devices. Aside from those, the capacity to communicate is also growing and more data can be transmitted for further analysis. As more products become software, more software will become services. A lot of companies are already implementing business plans where multi-product line vendors seek to materialize information collected across different product lines to create more insightful end-user experience.

If one looks at the automotive industry, one will see that the future is already here. Take car performance, for example, it can be changed by altering the software settings. New features are enabled by issuing firmware over the air updates. Cruise controls read map information to adapt fuel consumption. Cars are exchanging information between each other to avoid traffic jams. People also consider just using cars, instead of owning them. Autonomous cars drive better than humans. For sure cars are expensive items and manufactures can spend more on product development. Cars can also carry more computing power, run more software, and are really moving data centers. So, cars today are really showing what can be done tomorrow on the product level.

Today, in many organizations product development is done in silos, is hardware-centric, away from the customer, and based on opinions. It’s the opposite with IoT product development as it’s done in multi-talent integrated teams, prototyped with end-users, based on facts collected from the users, and based on product behavior implemented by the software.

Companies should consider a Design Thinking approach. The Design Thinking approach is architecture and service design-centric, end-user involved and data-systematic approach to product development and management.  IoT products are turning out to be a combination of hardware, firmware, cloud infrastructure, application software, service use, and support services. The desired end-user experience is a well-implemented combination of software. This requires that IoT products are based on architecture, which implements the common and commodified functions. The collected data is used to back up customer insights, and new features are constantly introduced. Some of the experiments are done and A/B tested with the end-users.

So, the whole product management process should be reconsidered to ensure today’s shortcomings and ineffectiveness are not repeated. It’s a big change for many organizations to realize that they are in the business of software and that a well-functioning software engineering practice is a must.

To support Design Thinking approach Symbio has brought Symbio Design Sprint to the market, which is a solution that enables customers to innovate and test a solution in one week. Symbio Design Sprint brings together key stakeholders required to solve the problem, which weakens the “not invented here” syndrome. The key stakeholder include not just problem owners, but also the real end-users and customers. These groups provide real insights to the solution and are final judges. Usually there are several possible solutions to a problem, so the approach validates the chosen solution. All these factors will ease the change resistance and make implementation of a solution more successful – a key objective of Design Thinking approach. The Symbio Design Sprint can also provide strategic insights how an organization can benefit from IoT and what digitalization means for an organization.

The IoT archicteture is a living thing. The functionality that is executed as cloud logic is getting to edge. Some Industrial Internet and transportation use case require zero-latency and are requiring execution at the edge. Nokia and ATT announced in January 2017, that a successful 5G low-energy consumption device zero-latency is doing its pilot streaming in the US.  So, definitely, we are seeing the egde and IoT devices becoming more powerful and intelligent. We, at Symbio, call IoT as “Intelligence of Things”, where devices are performing coordinated autonomous efforts.

Symbio as a R &D partner company, can assist customers to establish new product development processes. We can also support and augment by providing top-class embedded and IoT application software engineering services backed up by our proven IoT solution delivery track record. For example, ABB and Amer Sports are using our software engineering services as part of their product and service development. We have implemented this on our global customers like PayPal and Alibaba DevOps centers, also covering localization and globalization services. For Microsoft and Viaplay, we are providing end-user feedback analytics.

So when you want innovate, ask what’s next and deliver it…   Talk to us!

Symbio will be attending 600Minutes Innovation and Product Development in Finland on the 4th of April 2017 as a solution provider. Event discussions include: 

  • Digitalization in product development and product life cycle management.
  • Open innovation – Source for new business opportunities.
  • Strategic management of R&D Portfolios.
  • Leadership challenge – Driving innovation culture within an organization.
  • Sustainable business and product development.
For all our upcoming events, visit the Event Calendar »  
Juha Turunen

Chief Solution Executive, Symbio Finland