Most consumers regard connected devices as the height of simplicity. After all, when they want to turn up the temperature in their house, they simply launch an app on their mobile phone, and the room gets warmer.
But device manufacturers appreciate that behind the scenes, a lot of complicated things need to happen to make that experience as effortless as it seems to be.
The thermostat itself needs to be designed, of course, but with an added hardware requirement built in: some sort of radio transmission capability. That radio signal needs to then be captured some place in the home, and then retransmitted to the central servers that will handle the mobile application; what these days we call “the cloud.”
In addition, a mobile app has to be written, debugged and distributed. After that, network technicians must be monitoring both the server and client ends of things 24/7 to make sure there are no hiccups that bring the entire system down, leaving the customer stranded.
That’s quite a daunting list of skill sets. Little wonder why many traditional device manufacturers are so cautious to get into the connected device market — even with all the publicity it is getting on account of the popularity of the iPhone and Android.
But in fact, it doesn’t have to be hard at all. The connected device ecosystem has specialized companies — like Arrayent — that can handle the parts of the job that your engineers can’t.
We see these sorts of arrangements everywhere. Consider the auto market. General Motors (not an Arrayent customer, by the way) offers OnStar, the communications and security system that is built into most GM automobiles. GM features OnStar in much of its marketing, but the company relies on many different partners to actually offer the various components of the service: LG Electronics, Verizon, Hughes Data and EDS among them.
Which makes perfect sense; GM’s skill set involves making and selling cars, not running the sort of data center and marketing operations necessary for keeping consumers signed up for what is, in effect, a data subscription service requiring periodic charges to a debit or credit card.
You may well find yourself in the same boat. If you are in, for example, the thermostat business, you most likely have little or no experience with the wireless radio transmitters that are a prerequisite for a connected device. You also don’t want to hire Google engineers and start your own data center, or scout around for (very scarce) Apple IOS programmers to design a mobile app and then get it approved by Apple’s occasionally capricious App Store screeners.
The good thing is you don’t need to. And you don’t even need to gather up all those vendors yourself. At Arrayent, we handle the “back end” part of the system; getting your device connected with the cloud in the first place. We also work closely with a small group of very trusted partners who have expertise in other parts of the puzzle, such as annual customer renewals. We put the group together as part of our work for you.
As far as your customers are concerned, they’re dealing with a single company: Yours. But behind the scenes, we can divide up the labors, with highly skilled and specialized operations handling their respective pieces.
So while it’s certainly true that a connected product involves a lot more engineering than one of its old-fashioned standalone predecessors, the good news is that there is plenty of folks standing by to help. Arrayent, of course, is at the head of that line.
By: Shane Dyer, President of Arrayent