The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for AIoT Tech-Startup Founders & Cxos

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for AIoT Tech-Startup Founders & Cxos

Thiruvenkateswaran Ramachandran, Head of Digital and IoT - India, Planet Smart City, 0

The evolution of Internet, wireless, and sensor technology, we have been able to find innovative solutions to traditional problems. And, with the recent emergence of Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) technology, it has taken a step further to provide highly personalized services in order to provide a rich end user experience. Most frequently, technology leaders and entrepreneurial enthusiasts who want to solve customer problems build solutions with the latest and best technology without a deeper understanding of the customer personas (or) market readiness for such an advanced tech solution. They end up waiting for someone to buy their solutions. This is a common sight among AIoT Platform PaaS and SaaS Providers.

Here are the Five key tips for launching a successful AIoT startup;

Gain a Deeper Understanding of Your Customer's Problem
Customers are the end users (and/or) buyers of your solution; staying close to them throughout the product development journey will not only help you have a deeper understanding of their needs/wants, but will also help you find the optimal solutions to their pain points and plan for the user awareness, training, and change management required to transition customers from using their current solution to using your solution. The most significant benefit of being closer to the customer is that you will gain a better understanding of their problem statement, the impact it has on their day-to-day life, and how different user personas behave and their digital literacy levels, all of which play a significant role in the product adoption journey.

Understanding how problems are solved by alternate solutions in the market, as well as their shortcomings, will help you identify the gap and learn from the mistakes made by competitors, allowing you to redefine your solution strategy. This aids in the refinement of your product strategy.

Select the Right Technology, Tools, & Partner Ecosystem
Fortunately, the AIoT market is flooded with a plethora of hardware/sensors and a diverse range of network options from which to choose. Nonetheless, identifying the right communication protocols (e.g., Wi-Fi, Z-wave, Zigbee, LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, etc.) is one of the key decisions in AIoT-based solutions, given network reliability and scalability. For example, choosing a z-wave or Wi-Fi protocol over a LoRaWAN protocol for more frequent and real-time data updates for indoor applications may be a better option. When you want to report your device/ telemetry data on a much lower frequency, such as once or twice a day, the latter is a much better option.

This could be resolved with the support of network partner ecosystems such as NB-IoT or LoRaWAN or ISP Providers, among others. This should alleviate some of your reliability concerns and allow you to focus on the core services you provide to your customers. Depending on your business, you may want to collaborate with multiple device OEMs, network providers, IoT platform developers, and implementation partners to ensure your service quality is unrivalled in the industry.

Assess & Improve Value Proposition
As soon as you have completed the MVP (minimum viable product), begin your pilot implementations with your angel customers. Remember, they are your co-founders and well wishers;
the sooner you get the product in the hands of the customer, the better your chances of beating the competition. Every piece of feedback you receive from them must be recorded objectively, and if necessary, you must admit that you were incorrect in defining product features if customers are unable to use your solutions. The sooner you recognize and respond to customer feedback, the better your product's future will be. In fact, your actual product roadmap/strategy will begin only after you have given the product to users and asked them to provide continuous feedback. At the same time, let us not be short-sighted by obtaining fewer customer feedbacks and attempt to obtain broader user feedbacks that will assist you in targeting 80 percent of target segments.

Once product market fit has been validated, while the product is still being iterated based on customer feedback, try to gauge the values/impacts that your product creates for users in parallel. You must be able to define the value proposition and price your SaaS product based on the effects it produces.

Try to Price it as Accurately as Possible
One of the most significant challenges in AIoT technology is that the cost of building and providing services is much higher than the immediate value it provides to customers. Customers must be able to appreciate long-term intangible values; however, charging customers in full for both hardware and software would be an entry barrier for AIoT-based solutions. And, while there is no proven method for pricing AIoT solutions, the most discussed options are to leverage "Subscription" or "Outcome" based price offers to lower entry barriers and CAPx concerns for customers. The greater the adoption of the solutions by multiple customers, the greater the value it can generate for the customers through the data, and they must be able to appreciate the higher pricing, but it will take some time for the mass market to understand the true value of the data and intelligence delivered by AIoT Solutions.

Once product market fit has been validated, while the product is still being iterated based on customer feedback, try to gauge the values/ impacts that your product creates for users in parallel

Pricing strategy, like product evolution, would necessitate continuous innovation before reaching market-acceptable pricing.

Use Simple Marketing Language to Engage Customers
Digital product marketing has a greater impact on customer nurturing, lead generation, and sales conversion. One of the major challenges that this AIoT Solutions provider faces is that it is difficult to understand due to the technical complexities involved, and there is very little awareness about the technology and how it works to truly appreciate its value. As a result, it is critical that sales and marketing teams devote more time to creating awareness campaigns about the new technology and emphasizing the value it can offer to customer problems that were previously unattainable. With the emergence of such advanced technologies, the possibilities are limitless, and customers can fantasize about anything that could be accomplished in a matter of weeks. So having a distinct yet focused campaign to raise awareness about technology solutions and how they translate to provide the value that customers seek is a critical step in achieving success. Furthermore, the more we speak customer language, the easier it is to onboard the customer into your platform.

The most common misconception about AIOT Solutions is that it is only applicable to engineers or industrial consumers. However, in order to reap the full benefits of such a technology, the applications and user interfaces must be as simple and intuitive as possible in order to provide much deeper engagements and be easier to understand.