Remote B2B cooperation in IoT product development
Grinn has been working in the IoT, embedded software, and electronic design market for over 13 years. Located in Poland, we collaborate with clients throughout Europe. In this article we will try to answer the most frequently asked questions about remote B2B cooperation and share our tips.
We have been working with clients remotely even before it became mainstream. The ability to find and serve customers remotely has been and remains one of our greatest strengths. Usually, during project development, we meet with our clients 3-4 times; during 2020 and 2021, this number was reduced to 0. Despite all the available forecasts of industry stagnation, the number of our clients increased by about half during the pandemic, and we do not exclude that the reason for this unusual result could be our vast experience in remote work.
Around 95% of our clients wanted to meet with us in person before starting their respective projects. This desire is quite understandable, IoT projects are expensive and time-consuming, and it was important for them to know whose hands they were putting their work in. Realizing this, we used to invite customers to our office and take them on a small tour of our home base, introduced them to key team representatives, and demonstrated the laboratory. In 2020 this became impossible.
Solution: Undoubtedly, various methods of video communication partially replaced face-to-face meetings during which we discussed the opportunity to contact clients involved with either current or completed projects and ask their opinion regarding their experience with us. In the offer we put together we introduced our team and showed our office and equipment, as this was the best way to replace an actual in-person tour of our headquarter. We also decided to write brief bios of our employees on our social networks so that our customers can get to know them even before beginning a new collaboration.
Since we are used to working with clients remotely, our communication system has been fine-tuned for years. For quick daily communication, we use Slack and video conferencing to discuss important topics of interest, and, of course, we write a lot of emails. The only change we noticed over the past eighteen months has been an increase in our customers' anxiety levels.
Solution: We started showing our customers intermediate project progress more often. In our field of work we do try to be most proactive, but recently we have started to check in with clients even more often, even if according to the opinions of our specialists the updates were not perfect. In fact, we show not only ongoing successes but also inform clients about problems, both current and potential. During the product development stage, we always send out hardware prototypes to our customers, and in addition, we provide them with access to our project task planning system.
The development of an IoT product often requires the cooperation of several companies; the development of hardware, software, mobile application, and enclosure may require even 3 companies. Sometimes this number increases. In light of the recent global conditions where travel and in-person meetings became close to impossible, the selection and establishment of communication between several contractors has become - if not an obstacle - a cause for additional stress for our customers.
Solution: For our clients, we try to be a partner as well as a contractor. We are interested in the successful launch of each and every product and try to help in solving some problems. For several clients we have even found a reliable manufacturer of the enclosure as well as supervised its production.
In order to ensure a successful remote B2B collaboration, you, the service provider, will need to pay special attention to the client. Getting to know their needs and concerns will help you understand which changes should be implemented in your organization to help you become a more productive partner. In 2020 alone we successfully developed several projects in a solely remote format, increased our number of new clients, and helped ease their worries regarding doing business during the pandemic. As always, product quality and customer care is the deciding factor when choosing a service provider. Don’t just offer an item, offer a solution to the problems.