The most important question to ask a potential IoT development partner

In the race to innovate in the IoT market space, successful companies are realizing that their success depends not only on what they can do, but also on the innovation, abilities, connections, and insights provided by partnering with others.

Outsourcing part, or all, of your IoT product development can offer wonderful benefits and a strategic advantage. And, there is no shortage of engineering services providers who can help you. According to Technavio, a market trends researcher, the global outsourced engineering services market will grow by up to 27% by 2019.

See also: Microsoft unveils IoT Central to speed development efforts

When talent, funds, and time are tight in a fast moving IoT market, working with a full-service design, engineering, and manufacturing services partner is a strategy you should explore for your company.

But, with so much at stake, how do you find the right development partner? While each company’s abilities and approach to IoT is different, the information they seek is often very similar when evaluating potential develop

Are you experienced?

For example, you will probably ask “Does the development firm have experience relevant to your specific project? And, you will likely find that most development firms have not created a product exactly like yours, especially If your planned product is leading-edge, as most are in the current IoT market. But, they should have done similar or relevant work in a different industry or application. A competent, creative firm who has successfully designed products using similar technology in a different category or industry vertical with good results, is more likely to offer you greater innovation since they have a wider range of experience, with ideas and perspectives from other industries.

It is also important to verify that the potential partner’s product development process is sound and mature. A successful product development company constantly hones their process to create the best recipe for delivering great products for their clients. Their approach should prioritize full integration between design, engineering, and manufacturing so that each function can contribute to each phase of the process, and drive efficiencies and quality throughout development and production. They should be able to explain that process in context with your project and identify any potential risks and mitigations that might be needed.

And, it is telling whether the potential partner brags about their specific capabilities and key expertise within their development team. A potential partner should openly showcase their people and talents – they are their value! While the specific engineers who work on a project may vary, you should know who the core team of direct employees is and their qualifications and experience. Better results are achieved by a team who consistently works and communicates together seamlessly, than by a disconnected group of contractors who don’t know each other and were engaged just for your project.

Last, you’ll likely check references and confirm that the prospective development firm’s clients are happy and they continue to work with them over several projects, and not just a single project. While it is not possible to retain 100% of their customers, for a variety of reasons, at least 50% of a successful development firm’s clients will work with them repeatedly as a long-term partner. The best reference is a return customer.

And the most important question…

But, in the end, the most important question to ask a potential development partner isAre they producing value, and not just deliverables?” A good development partner produces the device or application that you contracted for, in accordance with the contract. They have delivered on time and in budget, just as promised.

And, a great development partner gives you more. They listen to you and learn all they can about your business, your market, your competition, and your ambitions. They work with you to think through goals and assumptions. They leverage their experience in different markets and different products to offer ideas and options you may not have considered. They find ways to add more value at every step of the design, development, manufacturing, and launch process. They help you explore all the ways the product or service can evolve to produce more revenue, reduce costs, or create new opportunities for you. They become an extension of your company and a vital part of your development, as they help you do things that have never been done before. And, their technology experts will help you innovate sooner and iterate more to create products and services your customers crave. Ultimately, as a true partner, they will be as proud as you are of the amazing products you create together.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, $2.5 million will be spent every minute on IoT and 1 million new IoT devices will be sold every hour. In this very fast moving environment, finding the right development partner is often the critical factor between success or failure. And the most important value a great development partner can give you is to help you get to market first with the best product or service offering to take maximum advantage of the IoT tidal wave.

The author is Senior Director Marketing and Business Development at Nytec. The firm is an award-winning, integrated consulting firm with over 40 years of success turning ideas into first-of-a-kind, consumer electronics and IoT products for Fortune 100 companies. To learn more, please visit us at www.nytec.com.

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