Author: Tom Young
When we boil the Internet of Things down to basics, it is all about user experience. The Internet has always been about utility. It was first designed to foster communication between American scientists during the Cold War but has since blossomed into a worldwide platform shared by ordinary people as well as movers and shakers. We can live entire lives online, socializing, communicating, and consuming just as we would outside of the Internet’s digital confines.
But those confines have not remained static. Wi-Fi and mobile technology have been pushing the limits of the Internet in the physical world. By 2018, estimates suggest that there will be 18 billion Internet-ready devices in the world. By comparison, the UN projects that the world population will reach 7.6 billion by that time. More than two online-capable devices for every inhabitant of Earth? It’s coming.
A large part of this boom in connectivity is expected to come from “dumb” devices becoming “smart.” Manufacturers are recognizing the impact the Internet has had on consumer expectations and are scrambling to build devices that integrate into the web-saturated world.
If you examine the types of changes manufacturers are making, it is clear they have customizable services and remote access at the center of their decisions. Both of these features have positive customer experiences at their center.
Devices that fix themselves
In the past, tech support has been an expensive and time-consuming ordeal for device manufacturers. Identifying the problem is often the biggest hurdle, requiring clear communication between support technicians and customer’s unfamiliar with the inner workings of the device. Failure to properly resolve a situation can result in lost customers.
Samsung has tried to overcome this hurdle by releasing Smart Care. The app empowers customers to take ownership of the care and maintenance of their devices. Smart Care works by automatically sending product care and maintenance alerts to a user’s cell phone, bypassing the customer service phone call and improving a customer’s overall experience.
Products and services that talk amongst themselves
The Internet of Things is also being used to seamlessly integrate devices and services. While this is an age-old manufacturing tactic, usually typified by creating intuitive, easy to use designs, it is taking on new life in the age of IoT. Device automation and integration into existing systems is now the name of the game. Not only does a product need to work well on its own, it also has to fit into an existing web of personal products and services managed by a specific user.
Companies have responded to this challenge differently. For example, ADT, the largest home security provider in the United States, has taken an approach that integrates its Pulse product with other major systems. The company recently chose to partner with Ford SYNC and McAfee in an effort to tie together products already being used by its customers. The McAfee partnership is an effort to create a unified security experience control and monitored inside the Pulse product. And by working with Ford, ADT is expanding the number of locations a customer could safely use the Pulse product. ADT is seeking to improve the experience of its product by integrating with other major brands in its industry to create a unique experience for its users.
Another approach is to create a system that integrates and manages all your smart devices for you. This design is more flexible than direct integration and allows users the ability to customize their experience and automate tasks based upon their preferences, reducing the time they spend thinking about their devices and increasing the enjoyment they received when things work as expected.
It’s all about the experience
When you boil the IoT down to basics, it is all about user experience. What are you most interested in seeing from a fully automated and integrated experience of your things?