The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly changing the way the manufacturing industry — and the rest of the world — creates, shares, and interacts with one another. We are finding ever-increasingly innovative ways to create products that can interact with one another through sensors, software, and other means of connectivity. This tidal shift also signals a transformation in how we perceive value, both as individuals and as a part of the world.

The most important word here is “things.” The Internet itself isn’t new; it’s the way manufacturers are incorporating its potential for connecting everyday objects that is revolutionary. These new “smart” products are creating value where it didn’t exist even five years ago. The IoT can reduce costs of production and improve service and innovation efficiencies, giving designers and engineers new opportunities to innovate.

To ensure survival in the age of the IoT, manufacturing companies and organizations have to begin using its potential to its greatest extent. You must be able to collect, analyze, and act on information you can glean from consumers, suppliers and your products. It’s also important to identify and assess potential business opportunities that the product-generated data uncovers.

In their article How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition, the Harvard Business Review recommends that you ask these ten strategic questions to prepare for the IoT:

  1. Which set of smart, connected product capabilities and features should your company pursue?
  2. How much functionality should you embed in the product, and how much should be in the cloud?
  3. Should your company pursue an open system, or a closed system?
  4. Should your company develop the full set of smart, connected product capabilities and infrastructure internally, or outsource work to vendors and partners?
  5. What data must your company capture, secure and analyze to maximize the value of your products?
  6. How will your company manage ownership and access rights to its product data?
  7. Should your company fully or partially disintermediate distribution channels or service networks?
  8. Does your company need to change its business model?
  9. Should your company enter new businesses by monetizing its product data by selling it to outside parties?
  10. Should your company expand its scope?

Covering these ten questions will help you make the right decisions when strategizing how to incorporate the Internet of Things into your product line.