Navigating New Product Introduction: A Step-by-Step Guide for Smart Devices

Keith Szot
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Smart devices are increasingly a key part of innovative new products. Touch screens with compute power are very important for creating the right user experience and customer value proposition. When done right, these types of solutions open up the opportunity for a relationship with the end customers that can enable recurring revenue using a mix of cloud-based and edge processing power and code. This will only accelerate as AI opens up new opportunities when delivered via bespoke hardware + software solutions.

Yet creating and commercializing these solutions is a tricky, risky endeavor — especially when hardware is involved. 

Esper and InnoComm have a history of working together to help build these types of dedicated device solutions. We’ve noticed it's hard for innovative companies to navigate this journey resulting in missed launch dates, needlessly burning money on engineering work, and making wrong choices that subvert the intended business model.

That’s where the process of New Product Introduction (NPI) comes into play. It is a process that takes an idea and lays out steps to take it to commercialization. Through NPI, you have a higher probability of getting to market with less friction and fewer surprises, reduced risk and expenditure, and the ability to optimize your delivery on the target vision for the new solution.

Both Esper and InnoComm have deep experience in NPI, including a joint solution to bring an innovative, connected, Android-based personal fitness device to market.

It all starts with the idea, but that idea needs to be heavily vetted. Most of us are not tech billionaires, thus the path to lining up sufficient funding starts now (and continues on!).  With that, let’s explore the NPI process step-by-step.

Market Research and Analysis

Before anything else, understanding the market is crucial. This involves identifying your target audience, understanding their needs and pain points, and analyzing competitors. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and use social listening tools to gather insights. This research will help tailor your product’s features, pricing, and marketing messages to meet the market demand effectively. 

Given that we are collectively in the world of building smart device-based solutions, you need to keep an eye out for feasibility to hit your target solution with the available technology set and the roadmap of technology available. Thus, as part of the research phase, you should pinpoint and talk to relevant technology partners as part of your due diligence.

This is also where a proof-of-concept (PoC) can be very helpful. There’s nothing more powerful than conducting your research using a prototype as a tool to either show or focus your discussions. 

Furthermore, a PoC is critical for the activities needed to secure funding if that’s required. The selling process starts now, and the target audience is those who command the resources you need to keep your NPI moving forward.

That’s where InnoComm can help you. They offer System on Module designs based on both MediaTek and NxP silicon, as well as handheld and touch console reference designs that you can base your PoC on. Based on InnoComm’s tight relationship with the silicon vendors, they give you everything you need to build a base OS for experimentation. And the key is that this is the same design you can take all the way through the NPI process to reach mass production.

If precisely configuring and managing the experience on your device is critical to your success, that’s where Esper comes in. Our device management platform is proven for new product introduction on the Android OS, giving you everything needed to manage AOSP devices (or GMS if you plan to go that route) with complete prototyping software tooling from the device side (Esper Device Provisioner, Device SDK, Secure Remote adb, CLI for use in Android Studio) to the Cloud side (full Cloud APIs for Cloud-to-Cloud automation, Python SDK for easy prototyping). You can try all of these features on Esper via a limited duration free trial.

Product Development and Testing

With a clear understanding of the market requirements, you can proceed to product development. This phase should be iterative, involving prototype development, testing, and refinements based on feedback. Consider a beta release to a select group of users who can provide valuable insights that could lead to critical product improvements before the full launch.

It’s important to get this right, as what you are building should be on the path to mass production of a device. Now you are getting pulled into the world of component availability, lining up a manufacturer, and getting into all the details that go with that (MOQ, pricing, warranty, support, etc.). This can be a rocky world for companies with limited experience and resources. That’s where InnoComm can help by abstracting away the complexity of the smart device supply and build chains. They are proven in this regard, with multiple major brands entering the market, and have developed a track record in the industry to get you through.

Esper lives on the software side, and here you need infrastructure that enables rapid iteration of your software experience. By managing your device with Esper, you can achieve complete control over the device and have the tooling needed to integrate with a CI/CD system to precisely advance your application-based experience with tight yet flexible device configuration. Based on Esper’s deep understanding of the Android OS, we can also help you tailor the OS aspects of the device to meet your use case target.

Most importantly, Esper and InnoComm have successfully worked together to bring these types of Android-based smart device solutions together. We know each other and have done it before.

Branding and Messaging

Your product’s branding and messaging are pivotal in differentiating it from competitors. Develop a unique value proposition that clearly communicates the benefits and features of your product. Ensure your branding resonates with your target audience and is consistent across all channels and touchpoints.

InnoComm is here for you in that regard as well. They will embody in the product’s industrial design (ID) your targeted branding balanced against commercial realities like tooling, manufacturability, and usage implications of ID choices. 

In the same vein, through Esper you get control to shape the experience and the delivery of the messaging through the screen experience of your device. How do you want the provisioning screens to look, the notifications, the Android launcher? By working with Esper you can control all of this to your target.

Marketing and Promotional Strategy

A well-thought-out marketing strategy is essential for building anticipation and driving interest in your new product. Utilize a mix of digital marketing tactics such as email marketing, social media, content marketing, and SEO to reach your audience effectively. Consider leveraging influencers and partnerships to expand your reach and credibility.

While this is mostly the responsibility of your own marketing team, InnoComm can help with the availability of device renderings and sufficiently completed device builds for the required supporting photos and videos.

And with Esper, you can complete the needed software experience before it goes final to completely show off the experience you are delivering.

Launch Planning and Execution

The product launch is a critical moment that requires meticulous planning. Decide on a launch date and plan your activities leading up to it. Organize a launch event or webinar to generate excitement and media coverage. Ensure your website and online channels are updated and ready to handle increased traffic and customer inquiries.

Of course, launch is predicated on product availability. Manufacturing a smart device has many complications and dependencies. InnoComm’s ability to handle this process for you means that when you set a first availability date tied to mass production of your device, you can count on it from a launch perspective.

With Esper, you can buy time to keep iterating your software-based experience. It does not have to be locked when the software bits are burned in at the factory. You can continue to iterate that experience delivered via the smart device right up to launch date, and of course ongoing after that.

Sales Channel and Distribution Management

Having your distribution channels in place before the launch is crucial. Whether you’re selling directly to consumers online or through retailers, ensure that the logistics are sorted out. Training your sales team about the product features and benefits can also significantly impact your product’s initial success.

InnoComm will work with you to get the required number of pre-mass production devices in the hands of your selling teams, enabling you to get them trained and your distribution channels ready to go.

Esper gives you the option to use a small pool of devices to remotely train sales and channel resources on your device experiences without having the hardware in hand by using Esper’s world class remote control capabilities.

Customer Service and Support

Post-launch, excellent customer service and support are paramount for retaining customers and fostering positive word-of-mouth. Be prepared to handle inquiries, feedback, and potential issues swiftly. Collecting customer feedback during this phase can also provide valuable insights for future product enhancements or developments.

Invariably issues will crop up, but this is where InnoComm and Esper’s post-ship support capabilities come into play. Oftentimes there’s finger pointing amongst the suppliers on who caused an issue, and frankly Esper and InnoComm have been through this together on behalf of customers with other third parties pointing said finger. The important part of our relationship is we were effective at working through the issues together and solving it for our customer in a commercially viable manner. 

Furthermore, with the Esper platform baked into your smart device, the telemetry flow gives you amazing observability so you can identify emerging issues ahead of time and remediate before they become issues for the customer. From a customer success and support perspective, Esper gives you the tooling to create a stellar and efficient support experience by integrating with industry leading support tools.

Performance Monitoring and Adjustment

Finally, closely monitor your product’s performance through sales data, customer feedback, and market trends. Be ready to make adjustments to your marketing strategy, product features, or customer support based on this feedback to ensure long-term success.

On the hardware side, InnoComm is experienced and ready in incremental hardware revs to advance your smart device from the original design to meet the needs of the market, deal with component availability and the chance to lower cost, and effectively slipstream these changes into production.

With Esper, you have full device telemetry to precisely measure how your offering performs in the real world and adjust your software stack in a secure manner using DevOps technologies to keep the experience marching forward.

Introducing a new product is an intricate process that involves multiple stages and disciplines working together towards a common goal. By following these steps and best practices, you can increase your chances of a successful product launch that not only meets but exceeds market expectations. 

The key to a successful new product introduction lies not just in the launch itself but in the continuous effort to improve and adapt to the market needs. Both InnoComm and Esper are here to help. Reach out to us if you’d like to find out more.

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Keith Szot
Keith Szot

Keith is the Chief Evangelist at Esper, the geeky force-of-nature driving efforts to build a robust community of device manufacturers and software developers to connect with our customers.

Keith Szot
Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS
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