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How To Upgrade Brand-Customer Relationships With the Internet of Things, Part 1

tomPart 1 of a 2 part series from DADO Labs CEO, Tom Worley.

A customer picks up a box off the shelf at Bed Bath & Beyond. That’s about the last time a company hears from that person (unless the customer has a service or warranty issue). At best, customers will connect with brands by registering their products using those mail-in postcards that are included in the box. Today, that’s the only point of contact between customers and brands. The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing this paradigm in significant ways.

Traditionally, companies didn’t have a reliable way of knowing how customers are technically using their product—what buttons they’re pushing, what conditions the product is being used in, or just about anything else. So how do brands engage with customers so that a) brands learn more about the end users and how they use their products so they can make better business decisions, and b) end users get a customized product experience with the confidence of state-of-the-art safety and security?

That’s what we’re solving here at DADO Labs. We’ve essentially developed an “IoT-in-a-box” solution for brands. It has all the components to take a new or existing product, create an Internet connection, and connect to our SaaS platform, where brands receive all kinds of information, all with low-level exposure for the end user. With DADO, brands are able to look at analytics, usage data, and business intelligence data, and transform those into product strategy and sales and marketing decisions. It creates a way for brands to connect with their customers in a way they haven’t done until now.

The issue with the approach most IoT solutions take with connected products is that they aren’t thinking about what the end user already loves about the brands they use. At DADO, we understand that brand experience is everything—to both the brand and the customer.

Let’s start with mobile. We believe that consumers already love the brands they buy. So why force a new, unknown IoT name onto consumers with an unfamiliar, impersonal app? (Hint: this is what most solutions are doing.) With each company that we partner with, we create a highly configured, customized and branded experience that actually resonates with their customer. It’s nothing particularly new for the customer. Rather, it’s an extension and expansion of the brand they already love and trust.

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What’s even better about the DADO approach is that brands own their data. With DADO, brands have their own “walled garden” of data inside of the system. Unlike other solutions, we do not take our customers’ data, package it, and sell it on the open market (i.e. a brand’s competitors). We work with the brands to use the data within their business scope, but it always stays within their walls. That way, brands stay in control and customers aren’t surprised by irrelevant marketing.

Creating a connected product shouldn’t be about building a glorified remote control. We’re talking about launching a true engagement, a true relationship between the customer and the brand. Next time, I’ll share more about what’s inside the DADO solution, and how we build a secure and reliable product from Day 1.

Do you have any questions? Drop us a note.

Photo credit (app/smoker): Char-Broil

Product Showcase: Behmor® Connected Temperature Control Coffee Maker

In this blog series, we will highlight some of the products we’ve developed, partly to show off what we can do, and partly to inspire new ideas for future products. IoT has endless applications, and there are some brands that are adopting it now, and doing it well.

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We’ve already humble-bragged about how awesome the new, award-winning Behmor® Connected Temperature Control Coffee Maker is and how it’s making the coffee world a little bit hotter. So now we’re sharing a bit more about what we did to bring it to life. To say the least, it’s much more than a coffee maker with a remote:

What it is

A home coffee brewer that connects to your phone through Wi-Fi, enabling you to conveniently, precisely, and reliably brew your coffee, which will taste like a handcrafted pour over cup.

Why it’s so cool

  • Choose preset profiles based on the kind of beans you’re using (packaged/fresh, light/medium/dark, etc.), and the machine will automatically calculate how best to brew your coffee.
  • Create your own customized configuration for exact water temperature (between 197 and 205 degrees) and presoak time (allowing the right amount of bloom time for the beans) based on your unique preferences.

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  • Monitor the progress of your brew on the app and receive notifications on your phone when the coffee’s done.

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What we did (a short list)

  • Developed app with easy steps to calibrate your machine (including setting your altitude for water temperature accuracy!). Check out this review showing all the features in the app and brewer:
  • Integrated the DADO IoT solution so that customers could change the water temperature by one degree intervals and the bloom time by 15 second intervals with the touch of a finger.
  • Provided instructions on firmware requirements within the brewer so that customers will get access to future updates and features on the product.

Behmor has already set the standard for best in class home brewing with the first home brewer certified by the Specialty Coffee Association of America. Now with DADO, they’re enabling home brewers to gain perfect control over their coffee, every time.

Photo credit (1st image): CNET

The Internet of Things is not only about “Things”

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While connecting toasters, dog collars, and grills to the Internet of Things (IoT) has a lot to do with hardware, much of the IoT  is built around services. This means that brands get to level up their relationships with customers. Here are a few benefits of IoT that allow companies to make happy customers even happier with connected products:

  • Remote access: with the ability to check the status of connected products, companies are able to fix issues without service calls or even returning the product to the store. Using updates and remote fixes, companies are empowered to help customers with less hassle for everyone.
  • Automated services: if a connected product can self-monitor when it has an issue, it can also self-correct through diagnostics, alerts, and programed responses. A “smart” product should be smart enough to take care of small corrections. These small issues will hardly bother customers (if at all).
  • Predictive resolutions: with really smart analytics, products can fix any issues even before they happen. In order for a product to do this, it will need to sift through all of its data and recognize slight changes in normal activity. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your product messaged you with this? “FYI, we fixed an issue that may have affected your device. You’re good to go!”
  • Refined marketing: once a connected product gets to know how it’s being used, it can also provide customized, useful offers and sales to the customer. This report by Jess Groopman calls this kind of advertising “intelligent, subtle […] not disruptive.” Customers can enjoy new discoveries while companies discover new business avenues.
  • Better customer service: if a customer ends up having to call that 1-800 number, chances are that they’ll get better service than before. The customer service rep will already see what the issue is, be armed with specific fixes for the issue, and may even already be in the process of fixing it. The customer on the other line will be delighted.
  • Less costs for customer service: this is actually a bonus that comes with all the other above benefits. Companies will spend less on customer service on connected products when all of the above are set in place.

Creating a connected product is certainly more than building a gimmicky gadget. It’s about enriching and strengthening the relationship between customers and the brands they trust, and easing the lives of everyone. DADO Labs’ mission is to bring the best hardware, software, and IoT services to the brands who rely on us to connect them to their customers. How can DADO Labs help your brand?

 

Product Showcase: Char-Broil® Simple Smoker with SmartChef™ Technology

In this blog series, we will highlight some of the products we’ve developed, partly to show off what we can do, and partly to inspire new ideas for future products. IoT has endless applications, and there are some brands that are adopting it now, and doing it well.

We’ve already talked about how awesome Char-Broil’s new smokers are. They’ve become an office staple here at DADO HQ, where we’ve used them to celebrate holidays and invite the city of Portland over for some wings. Here’s a bit more about the Simple Smoker with SmartChef™ Technology, arguably the new smoker for the masses:

What it is

A smoker that connects to your phone through Wi-Fi, allowing you to monitor food remotely instead of the traditional “labor of love” that smoked foods require.

Why it’s so cool

  • Check on food whenever, wherever you are, monitoring cook time, meat temp, and chamber temp. You can even receive alerts like, “Your brisket is done!”, eliminating the guesswork in smoking.
  • New to smoking? The SmartChef app includes a library of preprogrammed recipes with cooking tips so you don’t have to be a seasoned expert for delicious ribs.
  • It’s simple (hence, Simple Smoker), yet flexible and versatile, so it’s a great way to enter the world of smokers.

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What we did (a short list)

  • Developed app, which is designed to be simple, intuitive, and easy to get started. Check out this 3-minute video showing you how to set it up:

  • Integrated DADO platform into the smoker, giving it the mobility, flexibility, and reliability that people are already loving. Here’s what one reviewer says:

“It was nice to download the app and receive notifications via my smartphone, letting me know that the meat was almost ready. You simply put your meat on the smoker, tell the app what you are cooking and then you go about your day!”

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  • Created presets so you can still get awesome results even if you don’t have Wi-Fi.

The Simple Smoker is part of a line of smokers by Char-Broil, making a technological leap into what will soon become expected by consumers: products that seamlessly merge doing what you want to do and getting things done (deliciously).

Photo credit: Char-Broil

Perfecting Our Pitch and Getting Rewarded

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Last night we shared the DADO story at Pitch Oregon, which provides companies the opportunity to win prizes, like free consulting and services, and to help take them to the next level. Our President and CEO, Tom Worley, spoke in front of VCs, Angels, a great panel of judges, and a welcoming audience of the community members interested in what’s brewing in the Portland startup scene.

There were three categories, each representing different stages of development: Concept Stage, Seed/Bootstrap Stage and Mature. As always, we enjoyed talking about DADO, both how far we’ve come and where we’re going. It was also great to hear other companies’ stories. We have some innovative, creative, and smart people in this town!

We were honored to take home the Mature category prize. Congrats to all of the presenters as well as the other winners: TOUGHER and Poda Foods.

And a big shout out to all of the judges, TiE Oregon and OregonBEST. If you’d like to know more about DADO Labs, drop us a line.

How Your IoT Platform Should Be Like the TARDIS: An Interview

We talked with Gary Foubister, our Lead Software Developer, about the secrets behind the DADO platform and his outlook on the industry. Fair warning: he’s a man of few words. But just like a well-written haiku, his words hold great meaning.

What are three words you would use to describe DADO?
Inventive. Enthusiastic. Champion.

Champions of what? Go-carts? Eating deviled eggs? Guerilla knitting?
Of the World!

Not yet. But soon? Describe an IoT challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it.
One of the biggest challenges in IoT is avoiding a complex and confusing user experience. We make sure our designs focus on simplicity and allow users to quickly interact with our products.

Simple, yes. Yet robust! And secure! How do you build all that into the backend and keep things straightforward for the user?
That’s our Secret Sauce.

Oh.

garyturkeyHow has the IoT industry changed since you started working in it?
Consumer wearables are now all the rage.

Right! I’m writing this on my watch right now. What will be the biggest challenge with getting wearables more mainstream?
Price.

If you could invent something right now, what would it be?
A Time Machine!

What features would you have in your time machine?
It will be bigger on the inside.

What makes DADO different from other IoT platforms?
We own the entire experience. We work with our brand partners through every step. Education, supply chain, component manufacturing, web, software, and SaaS. All of it. We also have a cute dog.

Well. In some ways then, DADO is bigger on the inside too.

Do you have an IoT challenge that you’re looking for help with? Give us a holler, and ask for Gary.

Happy Leap Year! 29 IoT Thought Leaders to Watch In the Next 4 Years

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People are buzzing about the Internet of Things, and it’s hard to tell who’s bringing value to the conversation. It’s ok. We’ll tell you:

  1. Vala Afshar recently tweeted a helpful chart of recent Forrester research on IoT, and his oldie but goodie intro to IoT is still relevant.
  2. Michael Wolf is an industry analyst and creator of the Smart Kitchen Summit. And he knows a lot of people.
  3. Brad Russell at Parks Associates is monitoring IoT privacy and security like a boss.
  4. Chuck Martin regularly takes the stage to address IoT news.
  5. Stacey Higginbotham is a seasoned tech journalist with a really great podcast.
  6. Justin Grammens is an actual IoT professor and publishes IoT Weekly News.
  7. Ken Briodagh is not afraid to wear a kilt. He’s also not afraid to speak his opinion on IoT Evolution.
  8. Anita Bunk works at a little company called Bosch and provides great perspective on IoT on a global scale.
  9. Jess Groopman at Harbor Research is closely watching how our culture shifts with IoT. Pretty interesting.
  10. Dana Blouin is…a student? But also an IoT genius.
  11. We can’t have this list without Peggy Smedley, editor at Connected World Magazine. She even hosts her own radio show!
  12. Bill McCabe recruits IoT experts because he understands this stuff really well.
  13. Daniel Burrus is kind of an IoT super star. He’s got great insight into where we are headed and how to stand out in the crowd.
  14. Food Tech Connect isn’t really a person, but if it were, it would be the coolest IoT foodie ever.
  15. Rob Tiffany’s list of awards and speaking engagements on IoT is crazy long.
  16. Don’t have time to read a bunch of different sites for IoT updates? Check out Rick Sturm’s IoT Daily for a curated newsletter.
  17. Mashable’s Pete Pachal is fun. Just like us. And likes steak. Just like us.
  18. Chris Curran knows how to speak to the C-suite, showing how best a business can adopt emerging technologies.
  19. Kevin Ashton actually coined the term “internet of things” and has a short video to describe it.
  20. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino has a hand in many IoT projects and has been in the industry before it was cool.
  21. Glen Gilmore is a social media giant—with good reason. He’s following IoT and especially how it’s affecting security.
  22. Eamon Aston Kunze is Editor-in-Chief of WT Vox, where he’s leading the way to turning us all into robots. But in a cool way.
  23. Ronald van Loon is a big data nerd, which is kind of a big deal in IoT.
  24. Carrie MacGillivray is a VP at IDC, where she churns out some serious industry analysis.
  25. Ian Moyse is a sales dude, and he must be good at it because he’s been named one of the top 100 influencers in IoT, particularly in the cloud space.
  26. Noah Lorang at Basecamp calls himself a “data monkey”, but we think his practical data science advice is brilliant.
  27. Theo Priestley, used to work at Forbes and likes Star Wars. Enough said.
  28. Computer Business Review’s João Marques Lima is quickly becoming a name to follow for IoT news.
  29. Are we allowed to say us? Ok, good.

We’ve included almost all of these folks in a Twitter list. Feel free to subscribe to see what they’re talking about. Did we miss someone? Let us know!

Don’t Make IoT Junk. And Other Don’ts.

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It seems like everyone’s telling you what you should do to build your smart device, huh? Well, we are tired of that. Here are some things you SHOULDN’T do, besides the obvious—like build a smart jar for your whole-wheat flour. Oh wait. Somebody did.

1. Don’t just get new hardware.

Sensors are great. As are meters, displays, and memory. But in order to make a connected device, you’ll need to think beyond those. Think of this mighty trio: hardware, software, and service. Instead of just plunking in the magic IoT button inside your device, you’ll need to think strategically about how your customer will interact with it. How will you design the software to be flexible, intuitive, and bug-free? How will you keep your app simple yet robust, keeping the relevant data available for the user and the rest of it working seamlessly behind the scenes? And how will you be ready for the immediacy in customer service that is inherent in a connected device? Which brings us to…

2. Don’t make a product.

You aren’t making a product anymore. You’re making a CONNECTED product. Which means you’re creating a relationship—a two-way highway with your customer. This means your product life cycle no longer has an end date. Your product doesn’t hit the shelves and then you wash your hands and give your team a round of high fives. You’ve got a launch date where the next phase begins. The customer relationship phase. The data management phase. The security management phase. The software update phase. IoT fundamentally changes your business structure, so you need to start building the groundwork for that long before your product leaves the factory. Speaking of what leaves your factory…

3. Don’t make IoT junk.

We’ve said before, but please don’t make an IoT product just to be part of the cool crowd. Make a connected product to improve your customers’ lives. Find out what they want from your brand. What would they expect? What would they invent if they worked in your company? To really win at this game, you’ll need to create something that becomes essential to people’s lives, not just a Crystal-Pepsi-esque gimmick.

And one more bonus! Don’t be lonely. The IoT world is changing everyday, and the things you learn today will be different tomorrow. So talk with experts. Go to shows. Find a partner that understands your brand and where you’re coming from, and helps you envision where you want to go.

Photo credit: YouTube, Pepsi

Anniversaries Are Awesome. And So Is Black Icing.

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After closing the books on our most successful year to date, we celebrated our sixth anniversary in style. Good food, good drinks, and a cake with the face of Tater Tot, our official office dog, in black icing. Mmm…black icing. We celebrated at Cooper’s Hall in Portland, Oregon, which is a space big enough for 30 or so. Pretty incredible when I think back on how we started.

This is not your everyday startup that began in someone’s living room. DADO was founded in the dining room. Two totally different worlds.

Back in 2009, I was in between jobs, and the economy was sinking. What else do you do when you are out of work and not wanting to go back to the corporate grind? Grab two of the most reliable people you know (Mandy Schuler and Philip Jones), and do your own thing. I hopped a plane to CES to meet with business partners, where we ate, drank, discussed China, walked the halls, and then came home motivated to kick things off.

By 2010, we were off and running! More like a sprint, actually. We signed paperwork in the Iowa tundra, figured out how to pay the bills, built a strong, growing client list, found health insurance, started retirement accounts…and now fast forward six years.

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I find myself standing in the back of the room in Cooper’s Hall, getting a bit misty, thinking about how this crowd here has contributed so much to our success. These are the people who have worked so hard to make DADO happen. This year alone, we have launched three products with Char-Broil® and Behmor® with many more to come. The DADO Platform is taking off, and 2016 looks to be another amazing year. Thank you to the team at DADO Labs for making 2015 our biggest year to date.

When I’m meeting new people, the top two questions I get are:

1) How do you pronounce the name of the company? Day-Dough Labs. Rhymes with “play dough” and “hey, yo”.

taterWKD2) Why is there a dog’s head on everything? That’s Tater Tot, our office dog. He’s a little full of himself, so he demands that we see his face all over the place. It’s kind of annoying.

But one thing I always say is, “Let’s make IoT about improving your brand. About making connections. Let’s make it about improving our quality of life.”

I’m looking forward to next year’s celebration as we approach our first decade in business.

Tom Worley is the President and CEO of DADO Labs.

Playing the (IoT) Oregon Trail: 5 Steps to Creating a Connected Product For Your Brand

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You’ve seen the numbers. There are billions of connected products coming to market in the next few years—devices for living rooms, bathrooms, and baby rooms. Are you feeling left behind in the IoT dust? It’s not too late to head out on the trail to IoT success.

Developing a connected product is possible for pretty much any brand these days. It’s just a matter of getting the right people in your company on board to start the process. CIO writer Peter Bendor-Samuel wisely points out that it’s completely possible (and even affordable) to create a connected product. It’s just a matter of getting all the right players in your company on board to get the ball rolling. Here are the steps for your brand to deploy a connected product:

  1. Pick your party. These are the key players of your IoT vision. There should be a representative from each department in your company. This focus group will determine the goal, the resources needed, and steps involved in creating your product.
  2. Do your research. Figure out what’s already in the market and how you will differentiate your product from the rest. Talk with customers to find out what they would like to see in your product and what’s most important to them. Identify what your company can do in-house and areas where you might need help from outside sources.
  3. Create your trail map. Your map should be able to answer these questions: What will customers want in a connected product from our brand? What are our goals for creating a connected product? Who needs to be involved? Who will lead the efforts? What outside resources are needed? How much money do we need to invest? What are the key milestones along the way? What will be our ROI? When will the product deploy? Where will we go on vacation after deployment?
  4. Get buy-in. Once you have your trail map, present it to the higher-ups. They’ll be cutting the checks and will want to ensure your vision matches the rest of the company’s goals. They may even have ideas or resources or questions you haven’t considered; then adjust your roadmap accordingly.
  5. Measure, document, celebrate. Creating a new product line is like playing the Oregon Trail. There will be roadblocks (hopefully not dysentery) and challenges as you head out on the frontier. Along the way, it’ll be important to measure your success and document what’s working and what’s not. And whenever possible, don’t forget to celebrate. Tip: when you’ve reached Oregon, stop by DADO HQ for celebratory drinks and high fives!

Photo credit: KGW