By now you’ve surely heard the statistics about the number of internet-connected devices expected to be in operation in the coming years. An often-cited Cisco report predicts that number will be 75 billion by 2025, stating, “IoT devices function in an entire ecosystem of technology advancements – technologies that will continue to fuel advancements in these connected devices themselves.”
If you’re developing products that will further these advancements, you need to maintain a balance between the excitement of being part of the IoT revolution and the practicality of smart business sense. That may mean choosing a business model that will support your goals and your budget, such as outsourcing certain functions.
Things like R&D, marketing, customer support, and even core functions like engineering and quality assurance can all be hired out on an as-needed basis. Let’s look at how each of these outsourced services can support your IoT development.
Research and development (R&D) are critical for contributing new innovations for a company. However, when the bottom line is the top priority, R&D may be a luxury your company can’t afford. This is especially true if you have a backlog of projects already waiting for production and distribution.
Another challenge with R&D specific to IoT projects is that, given the current shortage of IT professionals, it may be difficult to find those with the expertise needed to produce the results you seek. If that’s the case for your operation, one potential solution is to outsource R&D.
When you do, you get to bypass the arduous process of seeking and hiring employees. Rather, you get highly trained engineers and marketing experts to contribute to your IoT projects through an outsourced agency. You also don’t have to worry about training, providing the latest equipment, or prompting them to efficiently produce results.
Once your R&D team, whether in-house or outsourced, has provided the next great idea and you’ve executed it to your satisfaction, you’ll need to let potential customers know about it. Marketing is another one of those functions that’s helpful to have in-house. But if you don’t need a full-time team or if you want the convenience of fewer employees to manage, consider outsourcing your marketing activities.
Your ideal marketing agency will have experience with other IoT projects and very strong knowledge of potential buyers, including the challenges faced by companies that want to adopt IoT technology. These challenges can translate into opportunities for a competent and experienced marketing team to share appropriate information at the right time in the sales cycle, provide a robust value proposition, offer relevant data, and address security concerns.
Further, an outsourced marketing team will have the resources to enable data-driven insights to help identify likely prospects, create relevant content, and track conversion rates. They also have the technical know-how to turn those prospects into customers.
Now that you’ve been through the R&D process and you’ve promoted your products, you’re going to get some customers who will no doubt need support, which is another function you can outsource. Customer care is a complex operation that you may not have the budget or facilities to support.
Outsourced customer care providers can do everything an in-house team would, including helping customers select, order, and use their devices. Agents can also handle troubleshooting and returns, if needed, and upsell to increase your revenue. Services include phone, email, chat, and text support, taking these tasks off your plate.
Outsourced IoT engineers have specialized skills ideal for your IoT projects. They include artificial intelligence (AI), hardware interfacing, IT networking, and mobile experience. In terms of the functions needed to build IoT products, engineers are among the most expensive to hire, so an outsourcing option can be a cost-effective alternative.
The IoT design process must include careful consideration of the user experience. While your engineers, whether in-house or outsourced, may be excellent at their work, they may lack the background needed to ensure your products will provide the best possible user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
It’s these details that ensure your products and applications will attract the volume of customers needed to drive your business. Yet, UX/UI is a function you may not need in-house at all times. As with the other functions, an outsourced arrangement could be the perfect solution, offering a combination of flexibility and solid expertise.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your operation must address the security concerns surrounding IoT products and applications. Given the potential for these devices to serve as inroads for hackers, those concerns are well-founded.
Quality assurance outsourcing (QA outsourcing) can help you move your projects along without the need to hire full-time QA staff. Yet, these professionals understand the latest threats and how to counteract them, making them an invaluable part of your operation.
Developing IoT devices and applications takes a broad range of professionals with varying skill sets. You may have good reasons for hiring many of these workers as full-time employees. But, keep in mind that you also have the option to outsource some functions, which can lend flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and high quality to your projects.
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