To Build a Growth Business, Connect to the Cloud

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on August 12, 2011

In 1985, Sony was king. In 2011, it’s Apple. Why the turn of fortunes? I contend that Apple was quickest to recognize that products as we knew them in 1985 were dead. While Sony was adding new buttons and knobs, Apple leveraged our new world of global connectivity. What was an iPod without iTunes? Definitely not the product that, in the end, killed the CD store.

Ultimately, each product will either evolve to include connectivity as a fundamental attribute or it will perish. In this new world of "connected products," a significant part of the user experience must be driven from the cloud. However, for many companies, the shift to connected products and leveraging the cloud won’t be easy.

Here are a few tips on how companies can transform their businesses and get connected:

1. Keep your eyes on your business goals. When machines start talking, they don’t stop. With literally millions of bits of data flying at you, it’s easy to lose sight of why you got connected in the first place. Use a solution that captures only the data you need and presents it to you in a digestible manner.

2. Don’t go it alone. If you knew what you didn’t know about developing a connecting product, your jaw would hit the ground. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a company spend years and millions of dollars trying to connect their products, only to be stymied by security or scalability problems. If you leverage proven cloud-software platforms instead of trying to build a custom solution yourself. It will save you time and money and let you focus on your core area of expertise, rather than technical issues.

3. Be creative. When one forward-thinking traffic-sign manufacturer got connected, its leaders thought: "Let’s make the signs’ messages adjustable online." Once the ideas started flowing, they came up with layers of new, dynamic services such as tracking and transmitting traffic data, measuring power levels, validating location, and managing issues of tampering. In a short period of time, connectivity has successfully transformed the company from a hardware manufacturer to a solution provider. They no longer compete on the speeds and feeds of their signs, but rather on the value-added services and information they can provide to municipalities they serve.

Dale Calder
Founder
Axeda
Foxboro, Mass.

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