Will the IoT transform our lives tomorrow in an interconnected world where we never have to drive, our refrigerators know what food to order, our packages arrive instantly by drone and we can turn our heating up or down at home, no matter where we are? Or, is the IoT overhyped and a dangerous proposition when hackers are intent on theft and the sabotage of connected devices?
According to a 2016 Accenture survey, the latter could be more likely.
The survey finds that consumer demand for smartphones and IoT devices is stalling, and one reason is that there is no single point of control. There is no integration, devices can’t talk to each other and each device uses a different app. Think about the number of TVs that the average household has and the number of remote controls. It wasn’t that long ago that we needed a different remote for the TV, the CD player, the Xbox, the cable box, the stereo. And each new device, such as the Amazon Dash Button, is yet another gadget that can be lost in the sofa.
Another reason, according to Forbes, is that, for a product or service to be successful, it needs to solve a problem for the consumer. And the IoT is still a confusing concept for many … and that’s a problem in itself. Consumers might use an Amazon Dash Button or Uber not because they understand the technology and platforms that make them work but because they see and experience that a problem they had is solved. So far, the IoT has not done a great job of marketing itself as a practical addition to people’s lives. Bits of it, yes, such as wearables and Dash Buttons, but not the holistic picture, and this dislocation in the IoT’s marketing is illustrative of problem number one — the lack of interconnectedness and central control.
So, what can be done? Forbes suggests appealing to real-world emotional consumer concerns. For example, marketing IoT’s potential as a safety tool. The IoT can help seniors to live more safely at home. Many Baby Boomers have aging parents. An app from Temboo, for example, provides motion sensors, paging services and data streaming that would allow families to monitor the activity of seniors living at home.
Security is another sensitive topic. Companies such as Ring, DropCam and SimpliSafe provide security systems using IoT that can be controlled with a smartphone.
Ever use a “find my phone” app? Loss of valuables is a big problem that can be solved by connecting a dumb object to a device and using location tracking, location-aware sensors, mapping software, Bluetooth, GPS and smartphone apps to find lost belongings.
As these location-aware capabilities are integrated into products that provide peace of mind for the consumer, the number of IoT objects will grow. But how about reducing the number of objects that we can lose in the first place? Now, that would be central control.