It’s no longer a question that the Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved from being a “thing” to become an encompassing technological movement. With connected home platforms providing safety, security and comfort (whether you are inside the house or not), to connected car technology like semi-automated vehicles, and even connected toys going mainstream, our daily lives will no longer only be touched by IoT, but will instead grow into the idea of a fully “connected world.”
To provide a glimpse of the present and future of the Internet of Things, we sat down with connected world expert, Val Vacante, Executive Vice President and Senior Partner at Mutual Mobile, to provide her insights on the topic based on her extensive experience partnering with a range of clients from the Fortune 500 set to the latest up-and-coming startups, all with one thing in common, creating a more purposeful, connected world.
Where is the connected world movement headed? How can brands keep up?
We have been living in an increasingly connected world for years, dating all the way back to the first forms of communication, evolving to the Pony Express, then to the telephone, more recently to the Internet, and now the Internet of Things. From wearables and beyond, the most innovative brands and up-and-coming startups are embracing technology to better connect consumers’ everyday lives with their increasing collection of devices.
The connected life movement is only going to become more connected and immersive in our everyday lives. The automotive industry is abuzz with cars that communicate with another to reduce congestion and accidents, all the way to the idea of self-driving cars. Almost every industry is moving into the connected space, including insurance, sporting goods, and even health care. Despite the swelling of this movement, few companies are getting it right in terms of implementation, especially in key categories such as connected fitness, the connected home, connected toys, and connected transportation. This technology implementation issue can be overcome, but in the meantime, it forces brands to be slower to market with connected life technology than they would like, especially if they’re developing these experiences in-house.
We find that some companies are easing into the space, some have experimented, and some have had challenges defining the right product that is useful and usable to the end consumer. There are are often inputs from Marketing, Brand, Sales, Product, and more that can potentially over-engineer and over-design a product; that’s where a digital product agency can work collaboratively and iteratively to research, validate initial inputs, create an experience based on what users want, and continue to validate until launch. From there, the teams then work together to measure (not only by user ratings but through analytics and actual user behaviors), learn, and optimize the experience.
What will be the most noticeable benefits of a connected world?
The benefits of a connected world are endless, from on-demand everything, increasing productivity to creating better living habits, and ultimately providing a higher quality of life so people can do the things they actually enjoy doing.
In the connected world, you know how, when, and where you get your personal best run (and how to improve it), your coffee is ready when you wake up in the morning, your child interacts with the physical and digital world through interactive connected play, and your smart home is safe, secure, and comfortable. In a connected world, our children can have more freedom to play the way we played as children thanks to wearable safety trackers. Ultimately, the benefit of a connected world is that we are freed of everyday worries, which frees us to focus on what makes us happy and more productive.
What are some of the possible pitfalls?
One of the biggest potential pitfalls of the connected world in terms of consumer adoption is creating beautiful, people-friendly experiences that are helpful. People are interested in the idea of seeing who is at the front door, controlling lights, locks, and more, but a clunky experience can leave people frustrated, returning products, or not committing to other connected device experiences.
Another pitfall is security, with concerns stemming from instances like the unforgettable baby monitor hacking, as well as the recent connected car breach. Beyond in-experience security concerns, people are not sure if they are completely okay trusting their devices to monitor their most valuable possessions, not to mention concerns over what brands might be doing with their data. After all, smart home hacking seems to be easier than you think.
When will the “connected world” be more than just an emerging place, but ubiquitous and “normal?” Why is that?
Adoption across categories is increasing by the nanosecond. Connected home devices are now highly mainstream, and industries across verticals are quickly working to introduce or heighten their “connected life” technology. As this technology becomes more prevalent, barriers to adoption will continue to decrease, meaning more and more consumers will begin to utilize and enjoy the benefits of connected devices. Just as smartphones became ubiquitous and normal, so will the corresponding idea of living a connected life.
People are no doubt tracking data, but where some experiences fall short are explaining the “so what” factor. In other words, how will that data help a user increase their sports performance, sleep, or daily nutrition? Experiences are becoming more productive and more secure, however the opportunity in the immediate future is how our connected devices provide an intuitive experience, learning you and your behaviors and providing a seamless and smart world, beyond just a connected one.
Once we have helped the end consumer understand the data and how they can improve their lives that is when we have succeeded.