Apple and how to become an ‘Internet of Things’ hardware company

Apple just made it big in the world of the Internet of Things, with its app driven HomeKit as part of its latest software, version 8. It seems Apple is making a big play to take the lead against other key players including the likes of Google. If you’re a hardware manufacturer today, then the Internet of things should be high on your agenda. Without a business model that takes into account this rapid approach to connectedness, your hardware business faces obsolescence. But how do you make the leap that will see you reap the rewards in terms of revenue? Manufacturers must take a software-centric/application based approach.

> See also: Next big thing: Preparing for the Internet of Things in the enterprise

At the outset you’ll need to re-design products from fixed-function, disconnected devices to flexible, seamlessly connected systems. By adopting a software-centric approach to manufacturing and then monetising the software functionality embedded within the hardware product, you will be able to maximise and increase revenues effectively, something Apple and other IoT leaders have been doing successfully for some time.

The design process will naturally change when using embedded software, so instead of manufacturing the full range of discrete device configurations, the embedded software should be instrumented to correspond to the desired configurations.  Determining those different configurations is an important part of the design process, which differs dependent on type of device.

Decide what value opportunities you want to enable on your device – for instance, a field upgrade enables a basic system to later upgrade to a premium system, without having to return the device to the manufacturer.  This is an important benefit of an internet-connected device.  It’s been used successfully in mobile phones for some time.

> See also: Most IT pros not actively preparing for the Internet of Things

Big data provided by the embedded software once installed, offers insight into how customers are using their hardware, what software they use most often and new services that could potentially be created. Further, product usage information enables manufacturers to make conscious choices pertaining to trade-offs between cost and value of service when packaging products and services for customers and markets.

In essence, today’s manufacturers looking to get in on the Internet of Things will need the drive, determination, imagination and creativity with input from experts and thought leaders across all areas of the business. Thinking and acting like a software company will be the winning formula for success.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...