March 21, 2019 – WSJ Custom Studios
Plenty of companies are capable of making great products. But creating great IoT solutions requires partners.
As a fast-growing IT consultancy, OST’s mission is to help its customers connect the unconnected, offering the operational guidance and technical infrastructure required to develop a successful IoT product.
“We focus on the experience we’re creating for the consumer,” says Jim VanderMey, chief innovation officer at OST. “We create a great experience for the consumer to maintain engagement with the product, then generate the data and service opportunities for the businesses that are investing in building those products.”
OST utilizes an AWS IoT service, AWS IoT Core—which supports device connectivity—and AWS Lambda, which allows code to be run without provisioning or managing servers.
“Our ability to go into AWS and focus on the features and functionality our customers need to support their connected product, rather than building internal infrastructure we need to scale globally, is very beneficial,” says Aaron Kamphuis, connected products and data analytics practice manager at OST. “Our customers are able to better utilize their capital resources since they don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to the cloud. As a result, they are able to get to market faster, as they can focus on implementing strategic product features.”
Moreover, OST is able to leverage AWS services to gather and process data on whatever scale is required by customers and their products, helping fuel improvements and innovation—all supported by new services that can be activated as products evolve.
“Imagine a situation where a product is built and there is a need to differentiate the customer experience and add voice-enabled capabilities,” VanderMey says. “Now the manufacturer of the product doesn’t have to build a voice infrastructure on their own, but can take advantage of an Amazon Alexa integration to develop an entire capability for their product, fundamentally differentiated in that moment.”
For proof, look to one OST customer, Intermatic, which developed a smart wall timer that allows homeowners to control lights inside their house via multiple interfaces, including smartphones and Alexa. Removing potential friction points in the IoT experience means consumers are more likely to use the features and functionality they seek with today’s connected products. “How many of those programmable devices don’t get programmed?” Kamphuis asks. “And now, because they’re on a connected platform, there’s a greater ease of use through a digital experience on a connected device.”
As organizations take on new product development, their choices around partners make all the difference. “As Intermatic evolves its product line with exciting tech-forward solutions, it’s essential to have partners who can help us build on our vision and support our teams with unique technical expertise,” says Kimberly Boland, vice president of engineering at Intermatic.
That ability to layer services not only makes the user experience more robust, it also extends life cycles in consumer IoT by making it easier to add new features and help guarantee products are properly maintained. A smart air filtration system, for example, could not only be controlled via smartphone, but could also recognize when a filter needs to be replaced—and order it automatically.
“You start to turn your economic model around,” Kamphuis says. “Instead of buying the device and buying the consumables, you’re buying the outcome, which is clean air.”