Skills for Starting an IoT Project| Bsquare Splendid IoT Supper Series

How to balance a variety of perspectives

We’re pleased you could join us for the fourth course of our Bsquare Splendid IoT Supper series. Just like a meal is more satisfying and enjoyable when there’s a wide selection of unique dishes and guests, an IoT team is a holistic blend of experts from a variety of fields. In this series, you’ll get a taste of the diverse expertise needed to create a successful IoT project from start to finish.

Today’s guest is Janan Guillaume, Senior Director of Product Management at Bsquare. Product managers fit into the metaphor of a dinner party easily, as the job requires both exploring customer needs and working with a variety of IoT experts to create solutions that accomplish those needs.

During our interview, Janan referenced Deep Nishar of SoftBank Group International, who describes product management like this: “A great product manager has the brain of an engineer, the heart of a designer, and the speech of a diplomat.”

For more information on the Bsquare team, feel free to contact one of our experts. And keep reading to gain an overview of some of the ways product managers work to combine a variety of fields to create your IoT solution.

Brain: Keep a strategic perspective by looking at the bigger picture

When it comes to the initial stages of creating an IoT solution, there can be an understandable urge to focus on aspects of the project that are most pressing in the moment. Teams might find themselves asking questions like “What tools do we need? What technology should we adopt? What processes need to be in place?” While tactical questions like these are undoubtably important, it’s also important to approach an IoT project with a broader perspective.

“Oftentimes we end up talking immediately down at ground level,” says Janan, “but the 30,000-foot view is important. I think if you start from the ground level, from the tactical rather than the strategic bigger picture, you’ll often miss out on what’s really important.”

In this way, product managers can help serve as guides for the whole team, keeping an eye out for potential successes to aim for and roadblocks to avoid.

Heart: Gain design input from a wide variety of individuals impacted by the project

In a previous Splendid Supper article exploring the security aspect of IoT, we touched on the importance of inviting everyone on your IoT team to the table early in the process. In product management, it’s vital to reach out to your team members and keep the group connected.

“When you own a product or you’re the visionary for it, then you need to establish relationships, really strong relationships, with everybody…. I think that the only way you build healthy, successful companies is with that culture.”

While it can be easy for individual team members to get focused on their own work, Janan believes that connectivity can transform a project. “If we can break some of that narrow thinking or that gated thinking, then we can truly work like a team.”

To some extent, this sort of connectivity is the responsibility of every member of the team. Product managers take this input collection a step further, however. They consider not just the team, but everyone who could be impacted by an IoT solution.

For example, when a medical company is trying to develop an IoT device, it is important to get input not just from the client and the team, but also doctors and patients who might be using the device and the people running the facilities building the device. This diversity of thought can help you catch things you might not have noticed and help you build a better IoT solution overall. And if you’re organized about it, you could even save time and money throughout the process.

Speech: Establish good relations

It’s not enough to simply invite a diverse range of individuals to the table: product managers work to maintain connections from the beginning of the process to the end. “You need to look at it through that lens of all those stakeholders that you’ve developed relationships with. But to do that effectively, that means you need to really get to know them and establish great relationships and really have a sense of understanding and empathy for their workflow and their pain points in their day-to-day,” Janan explains.

Managing the overarching strategy for a product while also working to keep teams and contributors on good terms can be a balancing act. Luckily, product managers don’t need to take on sole responsibility. It’s vital for all members of an IoT team to practice building and maintaining connections.

 As Janan puts it, “When you own a product or you’re the visionary for it, then you need to establish relationships, really strong relationships, with everybody…. I think that the only way you build healthy, successful companies is with that culture.”

Come to the table with our team

With our team of experts, Bsquare can serve as your one-stop shop for your IoT solution needs. From Fortune 500 companies to small start-ups, we’ve been able to serve a range of unique clients because of our diversely skilled employees.

Curious about the Splendid IoT Supper series? Stay tuned for upcoming articles, where we’ll feature experts in everything from operations management to IoT security. In the meantime, get started with the series introduction, and feel free to browse the website to learn more about Bsquare in general.