Written By

Kiran Patel



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September 18, 2019

Distinguishing between smart products, Connected Products and IoT

The Difference between Smart Products, Connected Products, and IoT

So you want to innovate. But are you ready to compete? 

Customers’ expectations of smart technology are increasing. They’ve raised the bar. Businesses have to answer important questions: Why are we building this? What are we hoping to achieve? If these questions are not answered, you risk losing the customer altogether. If customers are dissatisfied with a product, they have no problem rejecting it and moving to your competition

Clarify Your Technology Vocabulary 

The first step toward developing competitive product offerings is speaking the same language as the customer, including differentiating between smart products, connected products, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Smart Products

A smart product is one that creates data and anticipates change. Motion activated light switches are an example of a basic smart product when it simply turns on or off when you enter and leave a room. But it can also go much further. Advanced smart light switches can learn your behavior and automatically create a workflow that makes your life more efficient. Smart devices are intelligent enough to pick up some of your responsibilities as a human or reduce your cognitive load in some way.  

Connected Products

A connected product has both physical and digital components, and it connects to a platform. A connected light bulb goes beyond just detecting and automating. For example, it could be integrated with a mobile application that allows you to modify your experience with the light. Maybe you can change its color or dim the brightness. Perhaps you could program the light to be on or off at certain times of the day. These new functions of the bulb would be controlled within that mobile app. 

The Internet of Things

IoT is an ecosystem of many products. If the lightbulb were part of an IoT ecosystem, such as a smart home, it would integrate (via a platform) with other smart devices that work together to enhance your life.

Should You Create a Smart or Connected Product?

In today’s experience-driven consumer landscape, it’s not enough to just make a product that’s smart, connected, or part of the Internet of Things. Before developing a new product, you need to step back and ask important questions about its potential viability across multiple vectors:

  • Why are you creating a product in the first place?
  • Is it feasible, within your budget, to successfully launch this product?
  • What consumer needs does this product address?
  • How does your product enhance the experience of your end users?
  • Is there room in the market for a new product like this?
  • Is it possible to create this product with all of the features you envision (or even the essential features to provide the ideal consumer experience)?
  • Does your team have the technical expertise to design, develop, and manage this product and the infrastructure needed to support it?
  • How will you turn a profit on this product?

At the outset of product development, you need to understand what your end goal is in order to align your teams with a common purpose. These types of questions can help you understand and effectively communicate why you’re investing in this product. And sometimes the answers reveal a hard truth: just because you can make a smart device, it doesn’t mean you should. 

Go Beyond Smart and Connected Product Design With Data Analytics

Before you develop a smart or connected product, you also need to consider what data you want (and need) to generate and how you will manage that data. This opens up a world of possibilities. What are the right questions to ask of your data? At the heart of a successful connected product is an effective analytics strategy that helps deliver a better experience to your customers and delivers deep, actionable insights to your business to drive innovation and new revenue.

Think Bigger and Move Forward With OST

At OST, we design, build and manage large scale IoT, mobile, and cloud solutions for global manufacturers. Our Connected Product Accelerator helps you create a strategy, test your ideas, and create a proof of concept to get your connected product to market faster. 

By connecting the previously unconnected, we help our customers be more competitive and grow their business with actionable, data-driven insights. 

Learn more about OST’s IoT and connected product capabilities. Or contact us to start the conversation. 

The Connected Products Accelerator Guide — Download Now

OST Connected Product Accelerator

Create a more meaningful connected product, faster.



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About the Author

Kiran Sood Patel is the former Managing Editor of The Rapidian and hails from Illinois. Born and raised in the Midwest, she has reported for daily newspapers for years, with experience covering education, business, technology, city government and feature reporting. Prior to moving to Michigan, she worked as a multimedia reporter for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She holds a Masters in Journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and a Bachelor of Arts in News Editorial Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is an active volunteer in all communities and cities she has called home. She is the chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee of the Junior League of Grand Rapids. The Junior League of Grand Rapids is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Kiran has served as the Assistant Chair of Research in Community Impact. She served as JLGR’s Chair of the Beneath the Wreath committee in 2017. She is a past Educational Programming co-chair for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids. In the past, she has volunteered as an adult literacy tutor and with the Junior League of Cedar Rapids for three years in the area of youth aging out of the foster care system. She enjoys baking, reading popular fiction, blogging, writing and being a tourist in her own city. In Grand Rapids, you can find her in search of baked goods, coffee, good food and captivating stories across the city.