Superpowers for IoT product managers

8 Superpowers You Need to Succeed as an IoT Product Leader

So you’re an IoT product leader – or maybe you’re about to become one?

It’s one of the best tech roles and a bit like being Professor X in X-Men – you’re using your capabilities, vision and authority to lead a multi-talented team on a vital mission.

You won’t need telepathy to take your team to the next level – a unique mix of tech and business skills will do nicely.

This blog will prepare you by breaking down the following eight superpowers you need to succeed as an IoT product leader:

Sound good? Find out more about the goals for your role:

 

Your mission

Your mission as an IoT product leader is diverse and dynamic:

  • It’s one of the most exciting roles in tech because, in many organizations, IoT technological evolution has surpassed the skill sets required for it to reach its full business potential. You and your team are key to solving this problem.

  • According to a recent IoT world adoption survey, ‘45% of respondents say a lack of skills and expertise is problematic as well as a lack of executive vision for IoT (37%) and lack of support for cybersecurity (29%)’. 

  • IoT Product teams are the frontline forces bridging this gap. As an IoT product leader, you’ll embody the strategic vision, technical expertise and emotional intelligence required to drive your team towards its operational goals. Which is more than enough motivation to make you jump out of bed!

Ready to unpack your superpowered skillset? Let’s go.

 

1. IoT Ecosystem

PwC pinpoints the potential of the IoT with elegant simplicity by reminding us that it’s ‘transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that will enrich our lives’.

And as an IoT product leader, you’ll have to develop a broad and deep understanding of how the IoT ecosystem perspective is constantly evolving. 

By keenly observing how companies in various sectors are harnessing the tech to varying degrees of success and analyzing how it’s being adopted by consumers, you’ll develop an acute understanding of customer pain points and how to resolve them.

Keeping eagle eyes on the IoT ecosystem provides insights on how your IoT product can make customers’ lives easier and boost your bottom line – whether you want to differentiate on seamless integration, robust security, or any other selling point.

 

2. Pioneering Leadership

An acute awareness of the IoT ecosystem, combined with creativity and tech-savvy, also means that you’re more likely to develop the type of pioneering leadership that takes your brand in exciting new directions.

Consequently, you’ll start to anticipate market trends and customer needs so that you can put an entirely new spin on existing IoT products, or develop unique new solutions which build your brand into a true trailblazer.

But pioneering leadership also requires emotional intelligence. You’ll have to tap into your team’s collective intelligence to decide if ideas are viable, display the courage and conviction that convinces them to get on board and petition all stakeholders so that new initiatives are adequately resourced.

 

3. User Experience (UX)

IoT products should always be designed with an unwavering focus on user experience (UX). 

At the development stage, your market intelligence will reveal how to match consumer needs with the skills of your UX and user interface (UI) designers so that your product:

  • Offers a smooth and intuitive experience on any device through responsive design. 

  • Can be controlled as simply as possible – whether voice-activated, remote, or manual, IoT use should be frictionless.

  • Looks familiar if it’s a connected version of a pre-existing device (like a doorbell or thermostat). In these cases, you’re not reinventing the wheel, but rather making it spin in a powerful new way.

UX for IoT ensures that the technology always has the human touch – which makes customers who’ll be close to it on a daily basis comfortable and confident. 

 

4. Data

Whether data is big, small or anywhere in between, the first thing you’ll have to consider as an astute IoT product leader is how it should flow through your IoT tech stack (comprising device hardware, software, comms, Cloud platform and Cloud application) to satisfy your user.

So you’ll need to think about the most useful types of data, how much data should be transmitted to the Cloud, and how analytics can refine UX each time your customer uses your product. 

Having a Big Data expert in your team can also help you analyze the massive amounts of data IoT produces and convert it into unique and actionable business insights. Combined with machine learning algorithms, this can help businesses make accurate predictions on future trends that influence every aspect of operations.

Using AI, software and protocols and algorithms, skilled data scientists can ensure that IoT becomes the business intelligence gift that keeps on giving. 

 

5. Business

You’ve seen how IoT unlocks enhanced business intelligence. But on a more basic (yet equally important) level, as a savvy IoT product leader, you’ll have a sharp understanding of exactly how your product applies to a particular business sector and different niche company types:

  • IoT design and deployment are influenced by the different opportunities presented by diverse types of companies. For instance, if you’re working for a product company, you’re building a finished product or device, or providing a tech layer that’s integrated into a finished product, such as an IoT Cloud platform. Alternatively, if you’re designing IoT for internal use, it won’t be sold to customers but used to optimize processes – in a field like manufacturing for example.

  • To niche down further, you’ll consider what specific industries you can turn your IoT product leadership to most effectively. If you’ve got transferrable knowledge from a particular industry, that’s great, but it isn’t a prerequisite. Application of this technology is wide – whether you want to work in smart homes, smart cities, retail, transportation or wearables, the IoT world is your digital oyster. 

 

6. Technology

You’ll need to be very tech-aware if you want to be an IoT product leader. That said, you don’t need to be a Da Vinci-style polymath. 

The product you and your team are creating is actually a system that will link to a wider ecosystem. As we’ve mentioned, it comprises a five-layer tech stack including device hardware, device software, communication, Cloud platform and Cloud applications. 

As an IoT product manager, you don’t need to be a whizz at each of these layers – but you do need to understand how they work together and influence each other. This means that you’ll have the vocabulary to talk fluently to your team of experts in each area in order to design an end-to-end system that’s fit for purpose. 

You’ll also back up this overarching knowledge with your own in-depth expertise in at least one of the tech stack layers (either gained in-house prior to promotion or elsewhere). 

 

7. Security

The ever-improving connectivity of networked devices is a double-edged sword – it not only means that they’re more easily integrated into every aspect of life, but also that they’re exposed to an unprecedented level of cybersecurity and privacy risks. In order to mitigate these risks, a security-conscious IoT leader (like you) will:

  • Ensure that your team includes experts with skill sets in areas like ethical hacking, wireless network security, privacy policy, vulnerability assessment and data ethics.

  • Drive your IoT development and branding philosophy beyond traditional security-by-design (SBD) which is static and becomes obsolete even prior to manufacturing – towards dynamic and proactive IoT device security which provides customers with peace of mind 24/7 for the entire product lifecycle.

 

8. Standards & Regulations

Last but by no means least, as a switched-on IoT product leader, you’ll have to keep your finger on the pulse of standards and regulations that apply in every commercial jurisdiction – as well as those enforced by specific industries.

Failure to comply with regulations could endanger the public and jeopardize your company, so you should be aware of regulations and standards like:

  • National and transnational laws such as the U.S. Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act and European GDPR.

  • Industry standards like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and those set globally by the International Standards Organization (ISO).

  • New IoT onboarding standards like FDO.

 

Key Takeaways

And voila – the eight superpowers you need to succeed as an IoT product leader.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • A passion for the world-changing potential of IoT and its ever-expanding ecosystem will prepare you for greatness.

  • You don’t need to be an all-conquering tech genius to succeed as an IoT leader. You’ll succeed by building out expert knowledge of one or two IoT stack layers to a holistic awareness of how entire systems work together.

  • Being aware of the opportunities that IoT brings to certain industries through disciplines like big data and machine learning will help you hone your craft further and evolve your brand offering.

  • Focusing on UX and UI means that you always put your customer first, as does offering a proactive cybersecurity solution and complying with regulations and standards. 

These eight skills provide a solid foundation for future success in one of the most creative and dynamic employment sectors out there – good luck on your mission.

Talk to us about your IoT product leader role and responsibilities – we can help

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