Marketing IOT products and services

Co-creating is the name of the game. The Internet of Things ecosystem is developing a plethora of products and services and for this reason, we need to focus on how to improve the process of funding and successful commercialization of these innovations, so that they can effectively influence the Smart Cities. This is especially true about energy, transport, healthcare and home appliances. Test marketing and developing a community of early adopters should be the strategy for consumer IOT products.

Read full interview with Somnath Chatterjee, speaker at the IOT360 Summit.

Learn more about the IOT360 Summit taking place in Rome from 27-29 October 2015.

Many issues will be raised at the second edition of the IOT360 Summit. Which one do you find the most innovative?

The 2015 CES  at Las Vegas featured the largest ever showcase of products, services and technologies encompassing the “Internet of Things” (IoT), with more than 900 exhibitors presenting innovations that harness the power of the network to connect everyday devices. Going by these emerging trends, innovations in sensor marketplace are gaining lot of traction and could capture the limelight during the deliberations of IOT360 by EAI. Innovative applications in smart cities seem to be among the leading topics for IOT360.  

Energy, transport, healthcare and home appliances are likely to be the key beneficiaries of major IOT innovations sweeping hardware, software and firmware. Interestingly, government support in Europe through investment in strategic infrastructure and favorable regulatory policies could spur innovative technologies to scale in these areas. One very crucial byproduct of the IOT would be data analytics to improve operational efficiency and making effective business decisions. Issues related to nurturing robust ecosystem around the IOT are critical with security, privacy, big data and standardization contributing significantly to the successful commercialization of these innovations. I expect all these items to feature prominently at the IOT360 Summit.

New forms of fundraising such as online fundraising have emerged in recent years, what would you recommend to communities that want to use this type of support?

Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indigogo and others are trying to address the need for IOT innovators. Few entrepreneurs managed to raise funds online. For small scale projects and those related to analytics and software, there could be scope for online fundraising. The overall scope for full fledged IOT companies especially those in the hardware space appears limited at this stage. Only exception so far has been Pebble Technology and Pebble Time that created all time Kickstarter record. But there aren’t any others close to that so far.

Somnath Chatterjee, speaker at IOT360 Summit
Somnath Chatterjee, speaker at IOT360 Summit

Regulations and deal flow management related to online funding often pose constraint. While debt funding through online platforms are relatively pragmatic, there are roadblocks for equity finance. A review of Kickstarter and Indigogo – the two major online fundraising platforms demonstrate IOT especially those involving hardware are not the favorites. Interestingly, there are companies selling IOT products and services through online platforms by taking advance money for supplying products to customers on a deferred arrangement. There are quite a few IOT companies taking the route.

On the whole, the online platforms have to mature and investors remain skeptical about such mode of finance when it comes to raising large sums of money. Apart from Pebble watches, about 3 more IOT companies raised over $ 1 million so far through online platforms. Lifx, Smart things, Amigo and Ninja Cloud are some of the other IOT related companies raising fund online. Mojio and SkyCam also turned to online funding but amounts vary across companies. Hopefully we may see some more action here in future though this is not an immediate solution for all kinds of IOT innovations.

The Internet of Things is already a reality. What way, in terms of marketing, should industries follow in order to promote their work in this field?

Test marketing and quickly developing a community of early adopters should be the strategy for consumer IOT products. Co-creating is the name of the game especially in the B2C space. For industrial products, partnerships with enterprises and running pilots as well as demos need to be tried out.

For emerging IOT products and services, IOT360 serves as an effective forum for promotion, networking and outreach to stakeholders. Working with IOT accelerators, design houses and corporates championing IOT should help in early adoption and product marketing. Online platforms for consumer IOT continues to be another area of opportunity that some companies like to tap. There are also interesting companies that emerge out of Hackathons arranged by large corporates to solve pressing futuristic problems through IOT innovations.