What’s Your ‘Thing’?

The worlds of electronics and computer technologies are experiencing a renaissance not seen since the dot-com era. Mobility, Big Data, Unified Communications, Google-glass, and Wearables are all driving a whole host of new innovations and, inevitably, driving change into the market landscape.

IoT, the ‘Internet of Things’ is no exception. Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with a ‘smart’ world and are beginning to expect smart behavior from the physical stuff they interact with day-to-day. There is a clear market voice demanding a higher level of anticipation of customer wants and needs and an expectation of a higher degree of personalized response to those needs. The Gartner Group in their 2015 list of Strategic Technology Trends says, “The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of Information Technology.” To keep your company relevant and growing in the face of this brave new world, it is not too early to be deciding what’s my ‘thing’ going to be?

Expanding on the concepts of RFID tagging and tracking of physical assets, a technology that has become pervasive in many market segments like retail and inventory management, the Internet of Things adds additional intelligence to the assets themselves. True, the IoT has been subject to the same over-the-top hype that other technology revolutions have shown in the past – who really needs their toaster to be ‘smart’ after all. So, in examining your product portfolio for IoT opportunities, common sense must be applied. Here’s our list of test questions and criteria to help determine if a smart behavior makes sense and can add meaningful value to a product or service offering:

  • Who is my customer?
  • The more you know about the variety of uses your customers put your product through, and where the sticking points are, the better you will be able to target your smart efforts.

  • What problem am I actually solving? How important is it that this problem be solved? Why is the smart thing better than just the thing itself?
  • Is there real pain in the problem? Is there real value in the solution?

  • How and how much can the device learn user on its own?
  • Few of us enjoy the task of scheduling the lights to come on when someone enters a room or program a device to use less energy when no one is home. Any time a task can be accomplished without requiring the consumer to learn and apply a new and arcane instruction set, we remove a barrier to adoption. Remember the VCR.

  • How does the smart behavior enable a richer interaction and more meaningful connection with the customer?
  • A rich interaction responds as the user intuitively expects, in a timely fashion, with an output that exceeds the input. It adds to the conversation and anticipates the user’s next request and enhances their feeling of control and well-being.

Predictions put IoT direct revenues over $300 billion with a total economic impact of $1.9 trillion by the end of the decade. Regardless of device or scale vision – from assisting and monitoring the elderly at home to ‘Smart Cities’, it’s clear that IoT represents a seismic shift in technology focus, and a huge opportunity to provide amazing benefits to consumers and businesses alike.

WhitespaceSo, What’s your thing?