IoT Services: Business Management Software Unlocks Reoccurring Revenue
The Internet of Things (IoT) has created a huge movement within the technology industry that’s leveraging Internet speeds, mobile capability, and cloud services to bring consumers fully connected, full service experiences from their devices.
From a custom installation perspective, the benefits are immense: For the first time, integrators can connect to a client’s home, allowing them to provide services remotely and create new reoccurring revenue opportunities around these new capabilities. However, as the IoT market matures, companies are still navigating not only how to sell these new devices to clients but how to manage the service benefits from a business standpoint as well. Better business processes and more comprehensive, fully integrated software will be key drivers for growth in this new area.
Over the last few years, a number of software products leveraging advances in cloud-based technology have come to the market and made reoccurring revenue services a reality. These products provide the industry with remote management, access, and programming capabilities that allow integrators to manage jobs from the field, reduce truck rolls when clients’ systems go down, and in some instances, proactively send issue alerts to the integrator before a customer even picks up the phone. Remote access has become a great tool in the evolution of AV integration services. As we move forward, the industry has to take an even closer look at how software can utilize these capabilities even better to build stronger operational practices.
For most companies, a missing piece of the IoT puzzle will depend on a solid understanding of what’s really happening on the backend and how that piece of software will fit in to create a more efficient, streamlined process that allows them to build successful and profitable reoccurring revenue services. Software generally helps do two things: get more done with your existing team or increase revenue. What businesses are essentially purchasing is a service that helps free up time — value-added time — by automating and streamlining vital business tasks, which frees up time and resources to take on more projects and generate more revenue in return. A software platform should provide owners with the capability to shift functions that are non-value added time into value-added time, therefore increasing their value proposition, i.e., the product or service they’re supplying to the client.
Businesses also need to ensure a software solution isn’t going to offset the benefits with more work somewhere else. Software is a process, and while it’s tempting to buy the latest app out there that’s marketed for the exact operational process a business may need, many of these solutions are specialized only to do one or two tasks really well. The result is a smorgasbord of different solutions that most likely won’t integrate with other solutions. Each platform can add a layer of complexity, creating more work, taking more time, and eventually impacting the bottom line as owners try to manage all the incoming data and communication from each piece of software and bring it together into something useable and sustainable.
There’s still a gap in the software world that’s working to tie all the disparate parts — project management, proposals, purchasing, and accounts receivable — together, and this is where more efficient, automated, value-added IoT service platforms will really start to thrive. When a business can buy one comprehensive platform, the result is a product that moves their business closer to successfully leveraging and monetizing IoT growth. As a comprehensive tool, it allows business owners to automatically track client service time, bill them correctly on a reoccurring basis, and monitor their actual usage of that plan — preventing them from going over that threshold or providing them with a system to bill them for any overages.
But software alone isn’t the only key. Businesses need to also have ongoing training and support as part of their business practices implementation. Training in general is a strong foundational business practice, but it also can enhance other areas and enable them to fully utilize these platforms to yield greater return, such as reoccurring revenue service models. Every member of the team should be trained on what their role is within this big engine that is a business. Your technicians play a role, your purchasing manager plays a role, your project manager plays a role. Most companies don’t have each of these roles clearly defined in their training practices or in their software functions. Team members have to understand how to communicate with each other and have a vision for what they’re doing to make the next phase of this industry lucrative. When owners can deeply understand their business processes and business management as a whole, they can enhance their understanding of how to run a business and implement a successful reoccurring revenue stream that leverage these new opportunities.
IoT is driving a lot of growth in our industry that integrators can further capitalize on from a service standpoint. The next big hurdle is unraveling some inherent operational complexities that IoT services produce. We’re already seeing stronger service plan models emerge and cloud-based software that connects with the project management processes of these businesses. Moving forward, companies will be able to leverage software platforms that integrate more tightly with these IoT solutions and make reoccurring revenue service plans effortless, streamlined, and even more profitable.
Brooks Swift is founder and CEO of iPoint LLC. He is based in Topeka, Kansas.