Customer Lifecycle Management for IoT Products

When writing or planning use cases and requirements for connected products, you have to consider new scenarios that don’t apply to traditional products. We find that it’s these new scenarios that often get overlooked early on, and cause re-work later on during development.

The customer-lifecycle is a systematic approach that describes how customers will use your product from initial purchase to final retirement. This article describes the product lifecycle for IoT products which will make it easier to plan and prioritize the development of your product.

Every IoT product will go through each of these stages of the customer lifecycle in every industry or vertical. The duration and complexity of each will vary. For example, in 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.

Note: the stages are based on the IoT Decision Framework developed by Daniel Elizalde.

To help you identify the use cases in the customer lifecycle, we provide a workbook to help document and organize your use cases.
Download Customer Lifecycle Workbook