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How To Influence Product Specification In An IoT World

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has entered the B2B space in full force. According to a December 2017 article in Forbes, “B2B IoT segments will generate more than $300B annually by 2020, including about $85B in the industrial sector.”

As the IoT market evolves, the number of B2B buyers and influencers that interact with these properties will grow as well. Architects, engineers, spec writers and other upstream audiences will be just as involved as their end-user counterparts, particularly with new construction projects. For building and industrial Internet of Things product and device manufacturers, creating effective marketing and lead generation strategies to the specification community will be crucial to their success.

Spoiler alert: it won’t be easy.

Specifiers are a difficult group to connect with, especially when dealing with new technologies. They are professionally conservative and aren’t seen as risk takers. They are highly fragmented in terms of the firms they work for and projects they work on. And perhaps most importantly, they don’t like to be pitched.

But, make no mistake, the opportunity is enormous. Architects and engineers offer significant benefits in terms of lifetime value, and their influence on professional installers and end-users is unmatched. To be successful, IoT device manufacturers need a highly focused approach to capture IoT market share and create a product specification format preference.

Stepping into an Architect's shoes

Architects are a unique group. They need to be detail-oriented when it comes to meeting building codes, yet they can see the big picture on how their designs and product specifications will impact major end-user concerns such as energy costs, sustainability and total cost of ownership.

Engineers take a methodical approach to problem solving. They value evidence-based data and rely more on in-depth information, data sheets and modeling tools versus a manufacturer’s blog or social properties. According to research from CSE Magazine, “They want information instantly, so they can respond to their clients instantly. If a manufacturer doesn’t offer an online tool to streamline billable hours, then the manufacturer may be missing out.”

It’s critical to comprehend these motivators and drivers when it comes to specification decisions. Brands can gain a competitive advantage by identifying segmentation opportunities within the vast specification world. As an IoT marketer, identify how you can target A&E firms who are focused on your product category or market segment.

Breaking their specification habits

Because of their time-crunched schedules, research suggests that architects and other specifiers are creatures of habit when selecting products. According to a AIA survey, “nearly 60% of the time an architect already knows which materials manufacturer he or she is going to use. More than seven in 10 architects go with suppliers with whom they have an existing relationship.”

IoT device manufacturers that don’t have existing relationships or that struggle to grow existing relationships must consider a differentiated approach in order to disrupt the spec. This may require up-front qualitative research to understand IoT perceptions of your product category and brand within the IoT marketplace, and to help identify displacement opportunities against key competitors.

Addressing their concerns

The connectivity features of IoT devices require architects and engineers to place even more emphasis on writing specifications with building management systems in mind. Long gone are the days when products were specified only because of what they could do or how they looked. Today, specifiers strive to meet building owners’ needs through IoT devices that go beyond the primary function to create virtual histories of their own.

As engineer Robert Loanna of Syska Hennessy put it, “Convergence and automation are two key principles to today’s building technology design. Data, voice, security, video, entertainment, wireless systems, HVAC, lighting, electronic building controls including green technologies, and audio/visual elements running on one infrastructure sharing ubiquitous networks that are robust, redundant, and secure are possible to achieve when planned and executed with the common goals in mind — manage and control.”

As an IoT marketer, define how your content and message will address the needs and wants of your spec audience throughout their path to product design specification. Additionally, consider the different types of specification and how the overall buying committee — including consultants, procurement, installers, integrators and end users — will affect your specification efforts.

Want to learn more? Contact us to discuss how you can influence IoT specification.  

Topics: Building Products Manufacturing