Being an Internet of Things PM by Microsoft Product Manager

Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly transforming how we live every day. However, the technology is still fragile and incredibly complex, owing to the interconnection of different products and inter-woven data transfer.

It’s still a new concept that is not openly accepted by many industries. In this state, it is often challenging for PMs to bring in a ‘yes’ and convince the customers. In his talk, Hector Garcia Tellado gives us an insight into what it’s like to be an IoT Product Manager.

Meet Hector García Tellado

Hector García Tellado is a Principal Group Product Manager at Microsoft currently leading a team of Technical Product Managers and working on Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Hector Garcia Tellado

Life of an IoT Product Manager

The PM Infinite Loop

Working in IoT is not drastically different to other types of PM. The day-to-day life of an IoT Product Manager at Microsoft follows something called The PM Infinite Loop:

  • Research 
  • Write 
  • Design 
  • Launch 
  • Evangelize 
  • Test 
  • Repeat.

A PM need not be always technical, as many of the roles of PM include making strategies and planning the product which is non-technical.

You might also be interested in: IoT Product Management with TechProductManagement Founder

A simple career framework: scope vs ambiguity.

Career framework diagram

When you start your career as a PM, your scope is small and so is ambiguity. With time, both scope and ambiguity grow. Sometimes, it is just the ambiguity that grows. So, it is ultimately an adventure that you choose for yourself.

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way

  1. Innovation requires discipline.
  2. Failure is good, resist the urge to look good (Corollary: find a manager that buys into it).
  3. If you don’t like V.U.C.A.…don’t be a PM! (V= Volatile U= Uncertain C= Chaotic A= Ambiguous).
  4. Focus on the why, not on how?
  5. Understand your ecosystem and use it to your advantage.

What is IoT? Where are we now?

IoT can be simply defined as a continuous feedback loop of Things -> Insights -> Actions. Though this in itself seems perfectly simple, it is indeed a complex digital loop. A digital loop that involves a lot of players together:

3 stages in the IoT customer journey 

  1. Connect & Monitor – Ability to gain real-time insights and improve business processes.
  2. Analyze & Improve – Optimize usage of assets and/or deliver better products to customers.
  3. Transform & Expand – Develop new business opportunities, increase profitability, create more compelling business models.

Customer problems

Let us understand customer problems with a case study of Tork & Essity, a bathroom dispensers manufacturing company.

The problems include:

  1. High competition & low margins
  2. Under- and over-cleaning 
  3. Customer churn frequency
  4. Staff turnover & absenteeism

You might also be interested in: How to Solve Your Customers’ Problems with Your Product by eBay Group PM

Solution:

The company started using smart sensors in all bathrooms, which would fetch status & data from every operation that happened, for instance, visitor traffic, refill time, etc. This helped in optimizing resource utilization & improved efficiency by many folds. The outcome was surprising and above the rank. This use case could convince the business owners to invest in the life changing role of IoT, to tackle the simplest everyday problems.

5 thoughts on the future of IoT

  1. It is mostly a B2B story.
  2. Despite the buzz, it is still early in the market.
  3. We are going down the hypercycle.
  4. Cloud-edge computing is emerging as the new computing model
  5. Machines will have digital twins that can track past, understand the present and predict the future.
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