As a product manager, how you approach the development of an IoT idea is an essential factor in its success. It is important to have a clear direction when your team thinks of a cool gadget they can build or your stakeholders propose a mindblowing IoT device. How do you approach it?
1.Start with why
Yes, that idea is cool, but does it solve a problem? Why do you want to build it? Do people really need it? Which people? Why would anyone buy it?
Think extensively about the problem you're trying to solve with the idea. Explore who is experiencing this problem and why it is a problem for them.
Envision the product development process, customers, and the eventual product before you invest resources in it. This will help you analyze its feasibility.
2.Do your research
Get down to the books and investigate all you can about your target market. Are there similar products? What gaps do these products have? Where would you fit in the market? Who would be your customers? Where do they live? How old are they? Are they employed or not?
You can involve the potential customers in this stage and analyze what problems they face and how they would visualize the solution.
Results from this research will help you decide whether the idea is worth investing your time in or not.
If the results are disappointing and you can't clearly identify where you fit in the market, re-evaluate your angle or kill the idea (gently, of course).
3.Draw the roadmap
Once you understand your position in the market, it is time to draw the development roadmap. Brainstorm different approaches to solving the problem. Think of what the ideal solution would look like, its features, and what value it would bring to the customers.
Be sure to involve your IoT developers and marketing team in this session to get diverse views from all sides of the product.
Your roadmap should include the development process, timelines for the prototype, resources to be allocated to it, and the expected results of the development process.
4.Develop the Prototype
If you have a clear roadmap, it will be easy for your IoT developers to build a simple product prototype. You will use this prototype to test your target market. Get a couple of your customers and have them interact with the prototype as users to get their feedback.
Ask them questions about their experience with the product. Does it solve their problem? Do they understand how it works? What features would they add? What features seem useless? Would they buy it? How much are they willing to buy it for?
You will use the feedback to iterate your product and develop your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for the market.
You could decide to iterate the product a couple of times with test users before settling for the MVP or integrate only the first round of feedback.
5.Getting the Product Market Fit
Be careful not to get trapped in the iteration loop while trying to build a 'perfect' product.
If you have a product that is usable, launch it to the market. You can always improve it while getting feedback from live customers.
Remember, all products are iterative, and there is always a new feature to add and improvements to be made. Think about the process of adding new features or collecting user feedback as you are launching the product.
Following these steps does not necessarily mean the product will be a success. There are many factors and red flags that could prevent you from getting to the market or expanding in it, but that is a story for another day. As a product manager, you need to be fully aware of the development process and be an integral part of it.