How the Internet of Things is Changing Customer Lifecycle Management

Anticipating all future use cases for your IoT product can be a daunting task. However, it is important to get it right to plan your product development activities.

When you create a smart connected product, there are some new aspects of the customer lifecycle that you consider. The customer life cycle is a systematic approach that describes how customers will use your product from initial purchase to final retirement.

This article will describe the product lifecycle for IoT products which will make it easier to plan and prioritize the development of your product.

Every IoT product will have the each of these stages of the customer lifecycle in every industry or vertical. The duration and complexity of each stage will vary. For industrial products, the sales stage is typically much longer than consumer products.

Note that the customer lifecycle looks at a product from a customer point of view rather than a product development view. Focus on what your product needs to have to support all the users at all stages as they adopt your product.

These stages occur after you have released your product. It does not include the IoT product development process (see Lean IoT methodology).

The stages of the IoT Customer Lifecycle are:

Stage Description
Sales Sales is the process of selling your product to the market. For B2C products that could be selling the product online. For B2B products this may require special demos, trial environments, and sales tools.
Install Install can be as simple as unpacking and plugging in your product. Specialized products may require specialized installers, calibration tools, or diagnostic software.
Provisioning Provisioning describes activities the customer must complete before the product starts working. This usually includes verifying its a valid product, valid user, valid account, and connected to the cloud.
Onboarding Onboarding explains the how to use the product, and how to get the most out of the product. This can be part of documentation, inline tutorials or online videos
Operate Operate is day-to-day use when your product delivers the value promised in your value proposition. Your users will spend most of their time at this stage. Your product development or support team can review the data coming in to make sure everything is working correctly.
Maintain Maintain activities are applicable if your product has any maintenance needs. This can include taking the product offline temporarily, running diagnostic tools and returning to an operating mode.
Decommission Decommission is when the useful life of your product has come to an end, and now its time to take it offline safely. This is important because you don’t want rogue devices out there sending data to the cloud and leaving an open vulnerability to be hacked.