While sexy gadgets and wearable devices get the lion’s share of the publicity and glory, hardware plays an important role in running the Internet of Things (IoT). Because of this, more and more innovative IoT companies have leveraged Product Realization Group (PRG) consortium and Mike Keer’s extended hardware ecosystem. PRG’s roadmap (collection of seasoned business experts on front end and hardware service providers on the back end) has been invaluable for early stage IoT businesses to get a reality check before raising capital, recruiting resources, or committing to delivery schedules.
In part II of our conversation with Mike Keer, the CEO and Founder of Product Realization Group, we further investigate the strategies and solutions to succeed in the IoT market.
Arena: What interesting trends do you currently see in the IoT space?
Keer: Smaller, faster, cheaper. As more investment and interest is going into the IoT space, it is creating a whole new set of low cost components, such as sensors, that will continue to drive innovation and new products in this space. It is still an early and exciting time.
Arena: Arena has a powerful ecosystem of products with their Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution as the foundation, with integrated quality, and a collection of great strategic integrations. How important is it for an IoT company to have a complete design solution?
Keer: Absolutely critical. Think about if a homeowner wants to build a new house — they could go and find a plumber, painter, framer, etc. and then create a plan, schedule, and budget. However, if they have never built a house before, the chances of them being able to find resources that work well together, identify all of the key activities, develop a realistic schedule, meet their budget, and cover all of the regulatory hurdles the first time out of the chute is nearly impossible. The same goes for developing an IoT hardware product. If you have limited expertise in commercializing hardware, finding the right set of trusted tools and resources to support you through the process can be the difference between a successful product launch, or the trigger for your next career move.
Arena: Discuss collaboration and supply chain management challenges you’ve seen with the IoT companies you’ve worked with.
Keer: Most new IoT companies have global design and supply chains, which enables them greater flexibility during development and the ability to scale quickly as volumes ramp. The need for strong collaboration and management tools to support these global chains is now a must have for these businesses. The old bootstrap combination of Excel, DropBox, Google, etc. are too risky as these business move from idea to scale.
Arena's intuitive user interface and cloud architecture better enables businesses to control and collaborate on product data during development, which ultimately results in stronger supply chain management and effective change control as volumes increase.
Arena: What made you or the IoT companies choose Arena over other solutions? What were those differentiators? What stands out as unique?
Keer: Arena's cloud-based architecture, ability to get up and running quickly, and affordable startup offerings make Arena PLM well suited for IoT companies. One of the hidden benefits of Arena PLM is the pool of trained and available PLM administrators — the ability to find skilled administrators can make the difference between a smooth implementation and a stalled effort.
Arena: What are the products, features or functionality of Arena PLM that were most compelling?
Keer: What I see most often with PRG clients is that they want to get up and running quickly with basic functionality. It's part of the lean startup mentality — as these companies grow in size and complexity, Arena has the capabilities to support them as they scale, without the need to switch during a critical business ramp.
Arena: Why do you recommend a cloud-based PLM solution?
Keer: Companies don't want to be burdened with the installation, set-up, and maintenance of on-premise computer networks anymore. Arena's cloud based architecture can be accessed anywhere, and has security built-in. These capabilities make it much easier for lean hardware IoT companies to manage global development and supply chains, without having to invest capital or hire staff that is not focused on core product development and innovation.
Arena: How does Arena PLM help resolve the challenges that IoT companies face?
Keer: Arena's ability to get up and running quickly can be a real help for IoT companies that want to accelerate time to market. Some of the key areas where Arena PLM has helped PRG clients include:
- Centralized product data, which saves time to search and improves control
- Component selection for lifecycle optimization, cost reduction, and regulatory compliance
- Management of global design and supply chain through cloud-based communications
Arena: What have you seen as the top 3 ways Arena PLM has helped IoT companies?
Keer: The IoT companies that I’ve worked with have had great success using Arena PLM. Some of the benefits I’ve seen firsthand include Arena PLM enabling them to achieve:
- Faster component selection and search time
- Superior tracking of product changes
- Streamlined communication and management of changes in the supply chain
Arena: How easy is the implementation of Arena PLM?
Keer: Arena's cloud-based architecture and intuitive user interface, makes it fast and easy for PRG to implement for our clients. With some early stage companies, we have them set up and fully functional in a matter of days compared to the months it can take for non-cloud based and/or less intuitive PLM systems.