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President and CEO of International Pivota global manufacturing, engineering, batch and product development company based in the United States.

If it can be connected, it will be, and electronics products are increasingly synonymous with IoT devices. The forecast values ​​the global wireless connectivity market at USD 214.3 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 15.2% throughout the assessment period (2022-2030). Companies looking to launch IoT innovations are looking for an unprecedented market opportunity, and many are actively mobilizing to gain first-mover advantage. But in an increasingly competitive playing field, they cannot afford to underestimate the scale of the top five IoT-NPD challenges they will face. At first glance, these challenges may seem straightforward and simple. But as this piece will show, taken together, they represent complex challenges that require extensive experience, expertise and technological resources to overcome.

1. Range challenges

All IoT innovations face a series of challenges related to the ability to connect devices over varying distances and conditions. Additionally, companies looking to launch wireless products also frequently face issues of density or the number of devices that can be connected in a larger area.

The question is, which technologies are best suited and most cost effective to solve the problems of reach and density? It seems like a simple question, but the answer often depends on what businesses need to work with. Ideally, solutions would be selected from a diverse technology suite with applications that include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LoRa, CATM1 and NB-IoT cellular modems and more – many products require a combination of solutions. But if a development partner lacks one of these applications (and the expertise to match them to use cases), companies may unwittingly settle for a viable range challenge solution rather than optimal, thus compromising their investment.

That said, in many cases, Cat M1 and NB-IoT cellular modems, two 3GPP standardized technologies, are the ideal solutions. They offer low device and deployment costs, a small form factor, long battery life, reliable connectivity in harsh conditions, and robust application and communications security. Although Cat M1 and NB-IoT are complementary technologies with areas of overlap, they bring different strengths. For ultra-low complexity IoT innovations requiring limited bandwidth, Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is the clear winner. For medical, industrial and complex consumer products requiring a more expensive investment, the 1.4 MHz bandwidth of Cat-M1 is the optimal reach solution.

For another point of reference on why these applications play such a vital role in IoT innovations, the features and benefits of NB-IoT and CAT-M1 are as follows.

• Multicast transmission.

• Support for TDD and increased UE differentiation and access control.

• Reduced UE latency and power consumption.

• Reduced time to acquire system information and search for cells.

• Improved EU coverage, capacity and measurement.

• Higher peak data rates to serve a wider range of applications.

• Lower power class that allows smaller battery form factors.

• Extended support for cell ranges up to 100 km.

2. SWAPc Challenges

Provided a development partner comes to the table with a diverse technology suite and use case expertise, SWAPc challenges complicate the equation exponentially. SWAPc is an acronym for size, weight, power and cost. The question here is essentially how to reconcile competing variables. For example, how to cost-effectively design an incredibly powerful but also light, compact and energy-efficient IoT innovation? Answering this question alone is a formidable challenge that NPD teams can spend months or even years trying to solve. Indeed, SWAPc challenges exist within a larger ecosystem of complicated considerations to reduce cost without compromising product performance, functionality, and UX. To successfully overcome your SWAPc, it is essential to engage a partner with proven expertise in mastering the art of strategic compromise.

3. Security Challenges

Addressing device security issues is integral to launching successful IoT innovation, but the stakes have never been higher. In just one year, complaints of cyberattacks against private and public entities have increased by one million. Russia’s bombardment of Ukrainian power grids has further heightened awareness in the public and private sectors of the dangers of digitizing the US industrial base. Even for uncomplicated consumer products, common security vulnerabilities pose risks ranging from product malfunction to identity theft. It’s no wonder that security challenges are among the top IoT NPD challenges. And remember. Meeting data security challenges isn’t just about protecting your customers’ data. It’s also about protecting your company’s data from potential attacks aimed at your development partner. To minimize your risk and that of your customers, only work with a partner who:

• Aligns users, technology stacks and facilities under an integrative IT infrastructure.

• Ensures consistent application of policies across facilities, business units and subsidiaries.

• Invests wisely in digital transformation with a focus on cloud-native, proxy-based architecture.

4. Supply chain challenges

Chip shortages and other supply chain issues continue. Whether these obstacles prevent projects from coming to fruition, derail them during development, or simply cause prolonged delays, the result is sunk costs. Although many supply chain issues are beyond the reach of a development partner, DFM (Design For Manufacture) often holds a key.

DFM teams look at product design from a supply chain and manufacturing scalability perspective. One of their main roles is to discern which parts, components and materials will best support an optimal design while controlling manufacturing costs. The power of DFM is never more apparent or valuable than during a supply chain disruption. When DFM teams face shortages of parts, components, or materials, they shift the question from “Where or how can we get X, Y or Z?” (which is often an exercise in futility) to “How do we rearrange product design to accommodate alternative solutions? » This approach can be so effective that at Pivot, we have found that we can overcome a significant number of seemingly intractable supply chain challenges using this strategy.

Launching a successful IoT innovation presents challenges, but understanding the complexities and having the experience, expertise and technology resources will better position companies to take advantage of a market that offers unprecedented opportunities. . The journey from product concept to market launch promises to be smoother, more rewarding and, ultimately, more profitable.

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