We have repeatedly stated that any IoT solution is extremely complex, difficult to develop, necessitates a large number of diverse specialists, and thus is not cheap. Yes, in most cases, the benefits of finished product implementation outweigh the investment, but any business must look for ways to cut costs and improve economic efficiency. The problem is partially solved by IoT platforms and ready-made cases that the developer can provide.
However, Internet of Things solutions are extremely diverse, with each having its own distinct properties and requirements. In fact, it is unknown whether this or that key feature of the product will be in demand in the market. This is something that neither experts nor statistics can predict. Only the market itself, i.e., the end-user who has tried and evaluated the product in cash, can provide the correct answer. However, in order to bring a new product to market with minimal investment, the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is required.
1. Why does every Project need an MVP?
The MVP is a first version of a solution or product with a limited set of functionalities designed to test the feasibility of a concept. Based on the feedback of early users of such a product, a plan for further development and ways to enter the market is provided. The MVP concept emerged in the early 2000s, but it became popular in the 2010s with the rapid growth of startups, as the MVP is required for any startup and product that will occupy a new market niche. Consider the following advantages of using MVP in development:
1.1 Ideas enter the market faster and are tested in difficult market conditions
The modern world moves so fast. A good idea that can quickly take off, can cross multiple people's minds at the same time. As a result, in order to overtake competitors, you must enter the market as soon as possible. On the other hand, your best idea may not be valuable enough to others, i.e., not every idea is viable. The MVP assists in quickly debugging the concept and gathering feedback from real users. MVPs can also be shown to partners and investors in order to raise additional funds, which is a significant benefit for startups and customers with limited starting capital.
1.2 Reduce testing and processing costs
The more complex and intelligent the product, the more difficult and costly it is to make changes. MVP development is more rapid and less expensive. According to customer, user, and client reviews, it is simple to distinguish between properties that will be harmful and those that will relieve clients' pain. Then, based on the new requirements, you can create a new MVP that is closer to the ideal product that the target group of users requires. As a result, your offer will be more adaptable to the realities of today's market.
1.3 Early versions make money
The MVP provides basic but adequate functionality to receive payment for the product. Early market entry not only allows you to take your place, but it also allows you to obtain funds for product improvement. Your product's customer base is already established at this point. MVP assists you in estimating the size of the market and the share you can expect when launching the ultimate full-featured upgrade. And users who are interested in intermediate versions lay the groundwork for successful sales.
1.4 Debugging a business model
It is not always clear which business model to use at the early stages of developing IoT projects. A frequent question is about the methods and principles of payment for the product by the end-user: it can be a single purchase, a subscription fee, payment as a service, or free distribution with payment for additional services (in the case of IoT selling devices at cost). Only with the assistance of MVP can you determine which path to take.
Thus, the use of MVP in IoT development, particularly in startups, reduces time to market, lowers the chances of failure and the risk of large financial losses, helps in determining whether a simple IoT architecture is sufficient, and aids in assessing the interest of the target audience in order to attract additional investors. All of this is especially true for the Internet of Things solutions.
2. MVP in IoT Development
Many factors must be considered when designing an Internet of Things product, as it is made up of numerous components that interact with one another and exchange data. For the system to function properly, each component, whether an application, device, equipment or another item, must function correctly. However, all parts of the system must interact properly so that commands, data, and misinterpretations are not lost. The system's complexity presents a challenge to architects and developers, as it is necessary to prioritize which parts should be developed first and which can be completed later. Although there are various strategies for creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in IoT that concentrate on the primary unique aspects of the product, constructing such an MVP is not an easy IoT solution.
If the product's uniqueness is in software, data processing, or other business logic, we will select devices for the MVP project from the market or from our ready-made solutions. Such hardware may not fully meet the final product's requirements, but it has already been debugged, has controlled behavior, and has known connectivity options. In this case, all resources can be concentrated on the key software, allowing it to enter the market quickly. If the MVP is a success, we will design and manufacture hardware that is best suited to the task at hand.
If the main feature of the IoT system is unique equipment, such as unique IoT sensors, control of specific equipment, or non-standard connection, it is necessary to concentrate on it. To reduce the cost of the software component, we use ready-made templates for application development and ready-made solutions from IoT platforms for data processing, or open-source implementations in the end.
Engineers will once again be able to concentrate solely on the necessary, one-of-a-kind hardware. The software can be redesigned after entering the market, receiving feedback, and debugging the device.
Of course, because IoT is such a diverse industry, it is sometimes impossible to allocate a separate part of the system that can be replaced by ready-made units. Then we must create all of the MVP elements from scratch.
3. How we create an MVP at Indeema
When considering the development of an IoT solution, we must discuss the standards. Because the diversity of the IoT field has not yet allowed the creation of a single universal standard for the entire industry, companies continue to develop their own internal standards for product development. However, as always, you can focus on the developer's Maturity Level. This level is dependent on stable processes and overall optimization of the company's development processes. For many years, Indeema has been optimizing the MVP development process for its clients. In our current approach, the following are the primary steps in MVP development:
3.1 Research & Discovery (R&D)
This stage is crucial. Based on the customer's requirements, we create an overview of the main goals and objectives, a work plan, and an estimate of the project's cost. The project's technical feasibility is determined here. The investigation is especially important if your concept includes any new, untested features or technologies. Technical engineers are always needed at this stage to help confirm the concept. We can also consult with third-party scientists or engineers who are narrow specialists in a specific technology. Based on our experience, we then recommend specific tools, services, and platforms that are best suited to your specific project.
We create documentation based on the previous stage's conclusions, as well as the client's wishes and opinions. It contains information about the product's requirements, functionality, and properties, as well as technical information about its development. Clear, accurate, and transparent documentation assists the development team in implementing the project exactly as the customer sees it.
3.3 Idea Validation or Proof of Concept
In certain situations, a proof-of-concept may be necessary to establish the technical feasibility of an IoT solution, particularly when incorporating a novel feature or technology. Conversely, a proof-of-concept may be utilized to discard unfeasible or impractical concepts, thereby preventing investment in an IoT solution that does not fit within the market or lack technological viability. This approach can save considerable resources that would otherwise be spent on a non-marketable or infeasible IoT solution.
Wireframes allow you to quickly get an idea of how the final product will look. This allows the developers, the customer, and everyone else involved in the project to quickly grasp the product. Making changes at this stage has little impact on the overall cost, but it helps to avoid potential mistakes. In fact, it would be impossible to continue product design or begin coding without this stage.
3.5 UX/UI Design
The end-user interacts with your product through a special interface (graphical interface, mechanical buttons, or touchscreen), so their impressions often depend on this component. Prior to product development, we consider the UI and ease of user interaction with the product in-depth based on established patterns of behavior and our own experience.
At this stage, developers and engineers create an application based on project documentation and specifications by writing code, developing wiring diagrams, and other tasks. Our company's specialists create a final product based on the results of the previous stages. We receive a ready MVP once the implementation is completed.
3.5 Testing & Quality Assurance
The team ensures that the project is meeting the expectations of the stakeholders at this stage, while the test is a process of exploring a system to find defects.
Once the MVP is complete, we begin working with the first users, evaluating their impressions and experiences and soliciting feedback. The product is then updated based on the information we receive.
4. Minimum Viable Product Example
Ubreez, our in-house IoT solution, is an excellent example of an MVP within our portfolio. The underlying concept of this product is continuous air quality monitoring, with the goal of providing users with real-time data about the air quality in their surroundings.
One of Ubreez's standout features is its alarm system, which notifies users when CO levels exceed the recommended limit. To begin the development process, our team compiled a detailed list of product requirements. These specifications were developed by considering factors such as potential users, the problem that the product aims to solve, and the technical feasibility of its implementation.
Following that, our design team created a visually appealing and ergonomic device design that was well-received by the target audience. Along with this, we created a custom mobile application that integrates with the device and allows for real-time air quality monitoring.
In parallel, our engineering team built a prototype device out of readily available components to test the technical feasibility of the concept. We eventually arrived at a 3D-printed MVP version that met all of the required requirements and was ready for initial user testing after several iterations and improvements.
Overall, the creation of Ubreez demonstrates our team's expertise in creating IoT solutions that meet the needs of users while also providing innovative solutions to real-world problems.
In summary, the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) stage is a crucial part of product development, particularly in today's fast-paced era of innovation. It entails developing a basic version of a product with key features and functionalities, then testing it with early adopters to gauge viability and potential success. This feedback is then used to improve and iterate the product until it meets end-user needs and expectations.
One of the primary benefits of the MVP stage is that it allows businesses to test their ideas without committing significant time and resources to develop a final product that may or may not resonate with consumers.