In today’s world of paper-thin margins, ever expanding competition, and a need to be efficient in operations to minimize downtime and maximize ROI, operators and owners of industrial equipment must find ways to make their data work for them. Insert Industrial IoT (IIoT) SaaS, software platforms that promise transformation of data into actionable insights, reduce downtime, and increase operational output and efficiency.
Knowing you need an IIoT SaaS provider is the easy part – if you are operating industrial equipment, the answer is, unequivocally, yes. The hard part is figuring out which SaaS provider is the right fit. Said simply, which platform will provide the most bang for your buck and make the complexity of transforming your data easy while impacting your people and operations - immediately.
To facilitate the hunt for the best IIoT SaaS provider, here are 5 key attributes to consider when selecting a platform.
How often have you arranged a room only to feel like it didn’t feel right, and then move it yet again to get that feeling of calmness and order? It’s a natural human behavior to want to feel like the rooms we are in or things we use bring us a sense of calmness and useability. We should expect the same from the software we purchase: if it doesn’t feel good to use, you simply won’t use it, and that means wasted time and money.
When comparing the competition, IIoT SaaS should be easy to navigate and easy to understand. There should be a clear flow from dashboards to analytics, and the system will feel clean and clear. Can you go into the platform and easily know where to find what you are looking for? For the winners in IIoT, the answer is yes.
An often-overlooked aspect of SaaS is that not everyone who will be expected to use the product is a master of technology. In fact, many industrial operators still rely heavily on paper logs and experience minimal computer use. An IIoT SaaS winner expects this and understands that people with little technology experience should feel comfortable clicking around the system, and gaining early confidence in the system will lead to greater adoption and regard for the system being used.
An often complained about part of any SaaS product is that there are blind spots, namely, the platform doesn’t fit exactly the needs of the customer. A report isn’t presenting the right data or in the right format, a dashboard is missing a key KPI, availability calculations are meaningless because they do not use site or company specific calculations. This is a common situation because changing something for one customer affects every other customer’s environment, but it does not have to be something you have to accept.
Good SaaS providers will want to hear product feedback from their customers. These companies will want to know what their blind spots are and the areas they are not serving their customers. These companies will even have a process for pushing feedback and enhancement requests up the chain to the product team. So how do the best companies stand out when so many will offer this feedback loop?
The IIoT SaaS winners understand that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to data or analytics. They don’t just gather feedback; they quickly take action. These companies are adept at understanding their blind spots in relation to each specific customer, going so far as to ask how they can personalize analytics and dashboards, so the data and decision outcomes presented are meaningful, usable, and actionable.
It is not uncommon to be oversold when signing up for a SaaS product. Although some salespeople may oversell to pad their pockets, being oversold doesn’t necessarily come from malicious intent or a desire for personal gain.
Companies often want to expose new customers to as much as they can with the hope that these customers will find value throughout their platform. This sounds ideal, right? Who doesn’t want more? The problem is you don’t often need the entire software package or software functionality all at once. In fact, you can be overexposed to a platform and not getting enough time to master each use case, before moving on to the next. Nailing the first use case with user flow will drive confidence, adoption, and a foundation for success, and then ideally the next use case.
IIoT SaaS winners are matchmakers; they take the time to understand what you need and match you with solutions that will bring you the most immediate value. These companies will help you understand when and how to grow your presence on their platform – successive approximations to Nirvana, if you will.
When purchasing a SaaS product, you often have enormous exposure to the company’s team during the sales process. You are likely to speak to sales representatives, sales engineers, data scientists, customer success managers, executives or typically, a combination of the above. This can feel like you have a partner in the process, but are you ghosted after you sign the contract? This is where IIoT winners stand out.
IIoT SaaS winners don’t just understand that what happens after the contract is signed is more important as what happens during the sales process, they have processes in place to ensure a smooth and efficient onboarding where their customers are always fully informed every step of the way. The customers have a direct feedback loop and set of processes to impact the project and engagement to ensure maximize ROI in the least amount of time.
The winners in IIoT SaaS work with you throughout the entire onboarding process to keep you involved in their personalized onboarding plan with focus on personalized project management plans that include customer-specific feedback and needs.
An often-overlooked piece of any onboarding plan, yet one of the most critical, is the defining of internal SOPs (standard operating procedures) with customized training and rollout plans. The top-tier IIoT SaaS companies will work to understand your internal processes and take those to help you design SOPs that maximize adoption and efficiency for all end users. Additionally, personalized training plans set these companies apart, where these companies work with you to design training programs specific to the end user group and the desired workflow automation.
Industrial equipment operators and owners do not have time to open a ticket and hope it will be answered in a few business days because time is money. Having a company they can count on for quick responses with a focus on actionable outcomes is critical.
IIoT SaaS winners take service seriously. IIoT SaaS winners understand what is at stake for your company if you experience a hiccup in your operations. Bottom line, top tier IIoT SaaS companies serve you, have the record to prove it, and the team to deliver it - every day.