In an increasingly connected world, where every business is now trying to be a technology company, manufacturers are at a crossroads. Those on the hardware side are waking up to the realisation that their industry is starting to embrace software, and the benefits it brings to themselves and their customers, and they must decide if they want to follow suit.
This transition to software brings with it the opportunity for manufacturers to unlock previously untapped revenues and technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) are creating the opportunities to open up the software capabilities some manufacturers are developing and reach new audiences.
Due to the IoT, these connected devices produce data that can provide invaluable insight into how customers are using the device and software. This allows manufacturers to change and evolve their offerings according to customer needs and the fast-changing market. Put simply, this means that the billions and billions of new sensors that power machine-to-machine (M2M) connections in the manufacturing process can now help companies to make products that are faster, better and more efficiently than ever before.
It’s also allowing vendors to create a regular customer contact point that was previously a struggle to achieve. In the past, once a product was sold to a customer the manufacturer would not hear from the buyer until the machine needed to be replaced, which could be years, or even decades. Through software-enabled products, the manufacturer can license the machine to the customer for a smaller initial cost. Customers can request features as and when they need them, which can be turned on and off through the software. This is helping to create a more personalised and convenient service that customers are demanding at the moment.
Protecting your IP
A company’s IP is its life-blood, the thing that sets it apart from its competitors in an increasingly competitive market. Lose this to a competitor and it could affect product development, sales and in the end, the bottom line and profitability. As shown through our State of the Software Monetisation Survey, the majority of companies (70%) see the IoT as opening up these new monetisation avenues, but over half (52%) are leaving themselves vulnerable to intellectual property (IP) theft.
Reverse engineering, code tampering and IP theft are key issues presented by unprotected software and companies need to address this urgently before the worst happens. Deploying a software licencing solution that makes it possible for IoT manufacturers to safeguard the integrity of their application and verification of the data is an essential step to protect both IP and data.
Encryption and key management
It’s not just the software that needs to be protected either, though. It’s also about ensuring the devices themselves are secure in terms of the data they house and transmit. Manufacturers must build security into the device from the outset in order to protect businesses and customers. Protocols such as two-factor authentication help provide that layer of protection by creating to forms of identification that only allow those that are authorised to access the device are able to. Once the device itself is secure, it’s vital to focus on protecting the data. Encryption and key management are crucial here. Encryption renders the data useless in value to intruders and the key helps protect the encrypted data. These keys must be stored with the hardware, rather than the software, to prevent anyone hacking and stealing them to unlock the data.
The drive towards IoT, the power of analytics to leverage big data and the push towards instant-on purchasing demands by customers mean manufacturers need to embrace the push to software now. Those that do need to identify the ways to monetise the solutions they are providing while ensuring their IP and their customer’s data is secure.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.