Have you ever watched the show Project Runway? In each episode, a dozen or so fashion designers create a garment that adheres to guidelines around a theme, materials, and time constraints as decided by the judges. By the end of the episode, each designer sends their model down the runway in that week’s creation.
This is not unlike rapid prototyping an IoT solution. In both situations you are working with a limited budget and materials to build what you must convince your client (or the judges) will one day be a real, functioning product.
Reality TV references aside, rapid prototyping allows for an IoT company to take into consideration client needs, inputs, and wishes and quickly demonstrate through mockups and wireframes what their solution would look like. In our experience with rapid prototyping, there are at least two major benefits:
1. It enables a successful proof of concept (PoC)
A 2017 study from Cisco reported that 60% of IoT projects stall at the PoC stage. PoCs are an important step before a pilot but are tricky in and of themselves to navigate. They require a clear vision of the work to be done as well as space to tweak and test to finally land on a solution that ultimately works.
So as to not go in blind, we have found it immensely important to rapid prototype our solution before moving forward with a PoC. This allows us to share mockups of our solution with the customer, capture their feedback, and make the necessary adjustments before investing any more time and money. It also gives a potential customer the opportunity to visualize and better understand the solution and opt out if it’s not a fit.
2. It’s low risk, high reward
Rapid prototyping doesn’t require expensive hardware, time on site, or extensive buy-in from corporate higher-ups. You’re simply creating a visual draft of the work that could be done for the solution your client needs.
Leverege approaches this by having our design team first understand the client needs, and then collaborate with our development team to ensure that everything they dream up can be technically executed from a software perspective. Once those teams align, the design team gets to work on mockups that show what the interface and various features will look like. As a client, you aren’t investing anything more than the cost of this rough draft and your time to discuss whether or not the proposed solution is the right fit.
Ultimately in IoT projects – as in every other project – the devil is in the details, and rapid prototyping allows a provider to better plan for and execute on those often mission-critical details. The process allows both the provider and the client to assess the relationship and the proposed solution before getting too deeply involved to turn around, protecting both parties from spending too much time or effort in the event things don’t work out. But it also can lead to a highly successful deployment that benefits from extensive forethought and upfront agreement on requirements from all involved.