IoT Starter Kits and Dev Kits: Their Place in the Enterprise
Groopman acknowledged that there’s value to giving developers the tools to experiment. “But when we talk to companies about this, the challenge and the pain point is often, [they] have examples of IoT, but no one has any idea what another department is doing,” she said. “They might be using the same tools, or they might be investing in two different tools. It can manifest as a cost expenditure and misuse of labor allocation, and at the end of the day, they’re not working toward a shared goal.”
There’s also the very good chance that the organization will “outgrow” the starter or dev kits it uses during the experimental phase. “Once a project matures beyond the proof of concept or MVP phase, it’s likely that applications will begin to hit limitations of the generic hardware included in the dev kit,” Gerber explained. “For example, the devices might need to be more durable under extreme conditions such as outdoor environments, under water or in high or low temperatures. [They] might need to last longer on battery power, might need to be smaller, or be redesigned due to UX considerations. Dev kits also aren’t the most cost-effective choice for mass-manufacturing devices.”
To avoid these challenges, Groopman advises organizations to form a committee or center of excellence to serve as “a middle layer that’s responsible for connecting those dots,” she said. That means empowering the developer/engineering team with standardized tools and data sets, while providing guidance in terms of the type of projects being built so that everyone is working toward the same goal. “Provide a use case that serves as a north star, so it encourages ideation while keeping everyone’s eyes on the prize,” she said.
A committee or center of excellence should also connect the dots between those building the IoT prototypes and decision-makers by communicating regularly where there’s progress, the tools that are working, the tools that are not working, etc. “The committee is a liaison between all the efforts and ideation projects, and at the end of the day, communicating that value to connect the dots,” Groopman said.
When it comes to growing beyond the IoT starter or dev kit, Gerber advises enterprises to “partner with suppliers and enlist the help of hardware engineers and industrial designers to design and develop bespoke devices taking into account the specific requirements for their applications, and to ensure that they can manufacture the devices at high volume in the most cost-effective way.”