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Softeq’s Chris Howard | Why Most IoT Deployments Fail

#IoTFounders E065

In this episode of the IoT for All Podcast, Chris Howard, Founder and CEO of Softeq, joins us to share some of the most important considerations for early IoT deployments and how to avoid becoming one of the 75 percent of deployments that never make it to market.

Chris started his career as a co-op student at IBM’s Federal Systems Division, which supported the space program at NASA. His early professional experience included software development for a space workstation. In 1997, Chris founded Softeq Development with a focus on technical software development – which has since grown into a full-stack development team. As a lifelong entrepreneur, Chris is an active angel investor and advisor in several startup technology ventures and loves using technology to solve complex problems and working to build the best software outsourcing team possible.

To kick off the episode, Chris shared how Softeq got started in IoT – building a short run of headsets for Disney to enable them to improve the ride experience of non-native English speakers and the hard of hearing. These days, there is no such thing as a typical customer for Softeq – Chris said they’ve worked with companies across the gamut, from startups building a product from the ground up and unsure where to start, to larger companies needing a specific component, to companies looking for some additional expertise to put out a fire.

Given that range of experience, Chris has seen companies and products of all kinds fall prey to some of the common pitfalls of IoT development. “Developing IoT deployments is harder than it sounds,” Chris said, “it involves all of these pieces and there are a lot of things to be done.” A lot of companies, Chris said, fail to see how all of the components have to work together, which can lead to huge delays or, even, a product dead before it’s even had a foot off the ground. 

Beyond developmental obstacles, Chris said building in time to validate your assumptions and test your proof of concept is vital. On the marketing side, knowing what the ROI of your product is before a single prototype has been drawn, can be invaluable to ensuring that you’re building something that your customers actually want. And remember, Chris said, your job isn’t done at launch – even after your product has hit the market, you have to iterate.

Most of the problems are created at the beginning, Chris said, and he gave some advice for companies just getting started in the IoT space. Front-load your planning and know that you’ll have to iterate as you work out the kinks and better understand your market and your audience. Remember that the IoT market is still very new, Chris said, and success is just getting up one more time.

Interested in connecting with Chris? Reach out to him on Linkedin!

About Softeq: Softeq is a global full-stack development company with additional offices in Munich, Germany, and Minsk, Belarus. We design and build custom software, firmware, hardware, desktop apps, mobile apps, line-of-business web, cloud, big data, and machine learning-powered solutions. They have the ability to design and create complex solutions and ecosystems spanning from fully functional prototypes all the way to ready-for-manufacture designs. Softeq is particularly well-suited to design connected devices, prototypes, PCBs, sensors, and smart connected objects for the Internet of Things.

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Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:

(02:36) Introduction to Chris Howard.

(04:43) Introduction to Softeq

(07:24) What does a typical customer engagement look like for Softeq?

(09:00) Does Softeq handle all parts of an IoT solution in house, or do you bring in partners?

(10:42) What are the biggest IoT developmental challenges that cause deployments to fail?

(12:06) What non-developmental challenges attribute to an IoT deployments failure?

(15:27) What kind of expectations do companies have before engaging, as far as ROI?

(17:17) What advice do you have for developers and companies developing IoT products to help them avoid these pitfalls?

(20:52) At what stage do most of these pitfalls occur?

(21:57) What are the most common causes of failure post-pilot?

(27:22) Can you share some of the success stories of how companies you’ve worked with have overcome some of these challenges?

(32:23) Do you have any advice for companies starting their IoT journey?

(37:08) What’s on the horizon for Softeq?

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