Ten Steps to Drive a Connected Product Program
Written By: Peter Connor

At PTC, we have embraced cloud-based services, and over the last decade we have received many accolades for trail-blazing transformations in our industry. We maintain active technical and business dialogues with experts and customers in the field, online in our developer’s community, at industry events, and at LiveWorx. The common theme amongst all of them? Intelligence drives business innovation. Successful organizations are clamoring for more data. More data from more assets fuels more activity. (It’s quite simple, really.)

If asked, you might think organizations would cite product technology as the catalyst for business innovation. They do, and they don’t. Equally important catalysts are people and processes, and the time spent with internal and external constituents setting the stage for change and driving innovation. They over-communicate compelling customer-centric benefits. They do everything they can to map connected product initiatives to measurable and sustainable business results.

At the same time, we find that some organizations face underlying challenges to ignite action and implement change around IoT. In other words, they are stuck.

In this blog series, we will explore best practices for organizations that have implemented or are considering implementing IoT solutions — ten steps, based on ThingWorx customer experience, that will yield broader adoption of connected products by your customers.

At first blush, many organizations seek to overcome and eliminate the challenges of a new smart, connected product initiative through simple training and improved communications. In this series, we will take a closer look at the value drivers for the business, and identify factors to leverage across multiple layers of organizational involvement to overcome these challenges.

We will leverage the powerful combination of engaging employees and customers in a two-way conversation — because this is the competitive advantage that carries us down the road to our shared vision.

Step One: Create a Vision

Create a vision of what the customer organization will look like at the completion of the project.

Build a roadmap that you and your customer can follow, with milestones.

Build justification for new projects by delivering value in phases.

First, let’s take a step back and look at the big picture. Cloud capabilities have fundamentally shifted the competitive business landscape by providing new opportunities to create and deliver value.

The number of connected devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to reach 30 billion by 2020.

For forward-thinking organizations, connected products provide dramatic insights into customer behaviors well beyond traditional service paradigms. The ThingWorx vision is that the intelligence acquired from connected products will drive unprecedented business innovation. Ultimately, businesses will decide if and how a connected product strategy is adopted and becomes successful. So while the widespread ability to connect to devices is here, hurdles remain — primarily, organizations must connect to more and more assets to fuel increased business innovation. For this reason, organizations that work with ThingWorx need to be at the center of a shared vision.

Here is the truth as we see it. The visions that take hold are those that are shared with customers, and the best way to share a vision is to connect in the present. This connection is created by listening to organizations and enabling them to walk with you, and talk with you, as you build a roadmap to get there together. You need to understand what your customer is looking for in a connected product initiative. In other words, what does their success look like? Equally important is what you bring to the table in your role(s) as industry expert and strategic advisor. As an industry expert, you understand their needs and value drivers and create a solution today. As a strategic advisor, you look to the future and create a vision of what the customer’s organization will look like at the completion of a connected
products initiative.

Experience shows that the most successful connected product initiatives are those that create a customer-centric vision — with a roadmap to achieve that vision — along with stated value drivers (Step 1) and key measurements . The roadmap should contain a logical progression of steps that guide you and your customer to a shared vision.

“When we engaged in Conversations with our Customers and created a shared vision for the project, I noticed attitudes changing…we went from “your project, your success” to “our project, our success”. It’s a subtlety that speaks volumes”
– Paul Mercina, Diebold, Inc., Director, Software and Service Product Management

Internal Considerations:

  • Be well-versed on the most relevant best practices and innovations to your customer’s position and industry.
  • Prepare for strategic conversations and create a recommendation of what the customer organization will look like at the completion of the project.
  • Put your people and processes in order. Secure and train the resources required from the onset of the project to its finish.

External Considerations:

  • Build a roadmap that you and your customer can follow, with agreed-upon milestones. Consider delivering value in phases to create justification for new projects.
  • Execute the roadmap using the fundamentals of good project management — within your organization, and within your customer’s organization.
  • Leverage a combination of strategic and tactical conversations to refine the roadmap process. Map customer goals and initiatives back to the connected product program.
  • Stay clear and committed — a shared vision requires constant communication to sustain the effort.
Tags: Connected Devices Industrial Internet of Things Thingworx Digital Transformation Smart Connected Products
About the Author Peter Connor

Peter has over 25 of years of technical experience in telecommunications and M2M/IOT. He has held technical leadership positions and worked with Fortune 500 clients to design and implement dozens of secure IOT solutions including: usage based insurance, smart connected products and remote service for: Medical, Enterprise storage, and ATM applications, asset tracking, government networks, industrial data analytics. At PTC he is responsible for Thingworx IoT management applications, sales enablement and product management: Peter holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Bridgewater State University, and a Master of Science in Administrative Studies from Boston College.