Connected products: development for the IoT age

By | 3 minute read | January 12, 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining momentum. There is huge potential; Gartner forecasts 21 billion connected things by 20201. McKinsey Global Institute has estimated that “the IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11 trillion a year by 2025”2. We see a lot of learning, playing and experimentation around how to turn traditional products into IoT products. We also see entirely new product and business concepts enabled by IoT. Against this backdrop, I want to share our vision for building the connected products that will help to make our world better, more efficient and environment friendly.

As we move into the age of IoT, we’re seeing a shift in the products companies are making and how they’re making them. Previously closed systems are becoming more open and distributed. Connected products are allowing companies to get more data, and more knowledge from their systems, even after they have been delivered to the end user. And that data is helping companies transform their businesses and create new opportunities.

The distributed nature of connected systems and the feedback they generate adds significantly to the complexity of product development. Continuous feedback from products demands continuous development and refinement of those products to meet ever changing customer and market needs. Quality is a price of entry for connected products that can have a significant impact on our lives. And customers, used to daily updates from the app store, demand ever faster product development to keep up.

Continuous engineering

Continuous engineering is a new approach to systems engineering and software development to meet the needs of the IoT age. It connects engineering activities and teams, automating many slow, time-consuming and error-prone activities to better deal with the complexity of IoT product development. It also helps engineering teams to make use of the continuous feedback of data from connected products to inform design evolution.

At the core of continuous engineering are three concepts. The first is providing engineering insight by unlocking access to data and then helping translate that information. This ensures engineering teams are making the right decisions at the right times. The second concept is the continuous verification of requirements and design at all stages of the product life cycle. Continuous verification can prevent rework and helps achieve faster time-to-quality. And the third concept is strategic reuse across the engineering life cycle. This helps increase design efficiency, engineer product lines and reduce complexity.

IoT platform

In addition to a continuous engineering capability, companies need a mechanism to build the infrastructure of connected products for the IoT. That mechanism must be easy to adopt, robust, secure, scalable, reliable and cost-effective. And that’s where the IBM Watson IoT platform comes in.

The IBM Watson IoT platform provides the infrastructure ‘glue’ between the physical products, or endpoints, of an IoT solution and the cloud-based software that orchestrates the overall solution.

Making the magic happen

Using continuous engineering to develop connected products and the IBM Watson IoT Platform to build the deployed infrastructure is a great way to stay ahead in IoT development. But the real magic happens when these two technologies are connected. This integrated approach allows cost, quality and delivery time to be optimized while enabling engineering to make use of connected product feedback.

The IBM Continuous Engineering Connector for IoT (CE4IoT) connects the IBM IoT continuous engineering solution and the IBM Watson IoT Platform to deliver an engineering solution for the IoT age. Available now in technical preview, you can learn more about it at , join the discussion on the forum, and follow the latest news on Twitter at #CE4IoT. You can also read my colleague, Daniel Moul’s blog post for technical details of the connector.

I’ll talk more about connected product development, continuous engineering, the Watson IoT platform and the CE4IoT connector in coming posts. In the meantime, you can learn more about IBM’s vision for IoT by visiting our website.


(1) Gartner, Measuring the Strategic Value of the Internet of Things for Industries, Chet Geschickter | Kristin R. Moyer, April 2016

(2) “Unlocking the Potential of the Internet of Things”, McKinsey Global Institute, June 2015