As an industry, manufacturing is often seen as risk averse and slow to change. When it comes to IoT, however, manufacturers are anything but. According to IDC, the manufacturing sector spends more than twice as much — $178 billion — on IoT than the next closest industry, transportation. Not only that, but 84% of manufacturers report that they already have digital factory initiatives.
Enthusiasm and optimism for IoT are high, but manufacturers face unprecedented complexity in implementing IoT strategies and systems. They not only have to deploy connected devices, but also create and manage value-added software for those devices.
Increasingly, companies in the manufacturing sector are turning to platforms to overcome these challenges. With a platform, companies can centralize everything they need to be successful: device management, software, developer onboarding, ecosystem commerce and more.
Companies can do all of these things with a platform, but not all will. To be successful, manufacturers must be sure that their IoT platform strategy includes these three essential elements:
Up until recently, manufacturers were used to making one-time sales, usually physical products and perpetual licensing for the software that might go along with it. In the world of IoT, manufacturers must think beyond traditional ways of doing business. A platform strategy allows manufacturing companies to monetize the customer relationship long after the initial sale, but to do this they need powerful commerce functionalities, such as the ability to charge customers for subscriptions, single downloads and more, as well as the flexibility to change pricing as needed.
Ecosystems of software around core products are increasingly seen as vital to success, since they can provide a steady stream of new, innovative digital offerings to meet customer demand. For this reason, platforms that offer a robust developer portal are well-positioned to succeed. A portal should make developer onboarding as easy as possible, with streamlined integration and testing environments, as well as a CMS-like interface for uploading marketing content, such as product descriptions, data sheets, videos and more.
Flexibility to meet changing demands
In the digital economy, the speed of innovation and change is faster than ever before, which means that a platform strategy — and its underlying technology — must be flexible. A system that is API-addressable, modular and able to bridge the gap between new and legacy systems is critical. As Fujitsu explained in a recent report on digital transformation, “Businesses need to fail fast, fail forwards and make it cost efficient to do so. This means creating agile digital strategies and indeed business plans that can be easily and quickly adapted if a project is not progressing as expected.”
IoT is a multibillion-dollar industry that is changing the face of the entire manufacturing industry. To succeed, manufacturers must embrace this new digital reality and provide the connected devices, software, management tools and support that customers demand. A platform strategy is one of the most cost-effective ways to get there, and to get there quickly.
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