Internet of Things: A Primer for Product Managers
The first step to becoming an IoT Product Manager is to understand the 5 layers of the IoT technology stack.
Devices constitute the “things” in the Internet of Things. They act as the interface between the real and digital worlds.
2. Embedded software
Embedded software is the part that turns a device into a “smart device”. This part of the IoT technology stack enables the concept of “software-defined hardware”, meaning that a particular hardware device can serve multiple applications depending on the embedded software it is running.
Embedded Operating System
The complexity of your IoT solution will determine the type of embedded Operating System (OS) you need. Some of the key considerations include whether your application needs a real-time OS, the type of I/O support you need, and whether you need support for the full TCP/IP stack.
Common examples of embedded OS include Linux, Brillo (scaled-down Android), Windows Embedded, and VxWorks, to name a few.
This is the application(s) that run on top of the embedded OS and provide the functionality that’s specific to your IoT solution.
Communications refers to all the different ways your device will exchange information with the rest of the world. This includes both physical networks and the protocols you will use.
4. Cloud Platform
The cloud platform is the backbone of your IoT solution. If you are familiar with managing SaaS offerings, then you are well aware of everything that is entailed here. Your infrastructure will serve as the platform for these key areas:
Data Collection and Management
Your smart devices will stream information to the cloud. As you define the requirements of your solution, you need to have a good idea of the type and amount of data you’ll be collecting on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.
Analytics are one of they key components of any IoT solution. By analytics, I’m referring to the ability to crunch data, find patterns, perform forecasts, integrate machine learning, etc. It is the ability to find insights from your data and not the data alone that makes your solution valuable.
The Internet of Things is all about connecting devices and sharing data. This is usually done by exposing APIs at either the Cloud level or the device level. Cloud APIs allow your customers and partners to either interact with your devices or to exchange data. Remember that opening an API is not a technical decision, it’s a business decision.
Related post: The Business of APIs: What Product Managers Need to Plan For
This is the part of the stack that is most easily understood by Product teams and Executives. Your end-user applications are the part of the system that your customer will see and interact with. These applications will most likely be Web-based, and depending on your user needs, you might need separate apps for desktop, mobile, and even wearables.
The Bottom Line
As the Internet of Things continues to grow, the world will need an army of IoT-savvy Product Managers. And those Product Managers will need to understand each layer of the stack, and how they all fit together into a complete IoT solution.
more on Internet of Things in this blog: