The Internet of Things (IoT) is a wave that impacts all “verticals” and “horizontals” of the digital evolution and organisations who deliver design and manufacturing services in this hazy matrix are not spared the change. It is being ignited by the tsunami of capability presented by digital evolution and the Internet of Things. It is a complex web of interconnected potential that allows for endlessly inventive solutions but it places pressure on an original design manufacturing (ODM) to do more than just perform – it must transform. There is a real need for innovation that delivers on customer expectations realistically and within budget while providing the organisation with a competitive advantage. According to Petrus Pelser, Managing Director of Etion Create, an ODM that recognises these challenges and applies specialised thinking will find significant opportunity in the IoT space.
“It is critical to address the different requirements of IoT – the multitude of sensors and the complexities of embedding them into a solution – while simultaneously delivering precisely what the client needs,” says Pelser.
The challenge isn’t that IoT can’t deliver on expectations but rather that far too few providers can develop every aspect of a solution and even fewer recognise the design limitations that may apply. To benefit from IoT, every part of the process has to be aligned and there has to be a clear strategy from the outset.
“A holistic ODM works closely with customers to ensure that they design, develop and manufacture the product required from the outset. IoT needs a lot of listening followed by plenty of design thinking,” says Pelser. “It is a completely different process from the traditional, waterfall development process utilized in other sectors. The IoT space requires specialised thinking and this can only be effectively achieved in a cohesive ecosystem.”
IoT is considered a high-volume market and addresses a broad spectrum of sensor solutions and this means that price and connectivity are a critical pivot point. IoT may be a buzz-word but it is still at the start of what it can do and where it can go and there are barriers that impact on pricing and connectivity.
“The unit cost may be low, but the cost of development and implementation within the infrastructure limitations of IoT networks can push the price up,” says Pelser. “Any IoT investment must consider the market fit, the budgets for high volumes and the network connectivity constraints. Today, a lot of people just look at the solution but they don’t realise the cost implications of setting up a low-bandwidth IoT network.”
To succeed, IoT applications have to be structured around the considerations of bandwidth, network, battery power and cost. They have to be fit for purpose, and capable of high-volume, industrialised roll-out and, most importantly, they have to work. It is into this that the right ODM fits as neatly as a piece into a puzzle, or perhaps a sensor into a network. Etion Create has a track record in design thinking, recognising the limitations and the potential of technology and creating solutions that are both realistic and intelligent.
“We don’t do massive investment into products and then see if they can be sold or if they are relevant,” says Pelser. “Instead we work with our customers, identify the market, and then we work together to build a proof of concept and a pilot. This ensures that our mutual investment into the IoT space aligns with the potential outcome.”
Development is costly, even with sensors becoming increasingly small and cheap, but designing a solution for a low-cost, low-power network pushes up the price tag. Etion Create makes the investment decision smaller by working within the lean start-up methodology – testing the market, ensuring the solution is relevant and viable, and assessing potential without a massive upfront investment.
“We are focused on trends in the market,” concludes Pelser. “Working with customers to develop ubiquitous IoT solutions really plays into our capabilities. We are living in a highly connected world and everyone wants more efficiency and accessibility. A lot of the smart cities and solutions starting to emerge require IoT solutions that map back to demand, cost and capability and we work with our customers to put them at the forefront of this evolution.”
South Africa isn’t behind the times or the rest of the world when it comes to IoT innovation. The country is powered by the need to overcome unique challenges and complexities and this ignites remarkable innovation and opens up significant potential. Partnering with Etion Create, local organisations can learn more about IoT and embark on a journey that can transform business, customer engagement and the future.