What the Internet of Things really means for product strategies & the digital economy

The Internet of Things (IoT) is clearly a massive trend this year, and there has been a flurry of news about this technology after recent big industry events, like Mobile World Congress. Indeed, there isn’t a lack of predictions around this, over the last few months in particular, such as Gartner’s prediction that the IoT will continue to expand, propelled by the ubiquity of user-oriented computing.

The analyst house predicts this will be replicated both in industrial and in operational contexts, as it will be the focus of digital business products and processes. Further to this, Gartner believes embedding technology more deeply into products and our way of life will create touch points for users everywhere, and this will form the foundation of digital businesses in Europe.

The IoT will continue to be the biggest trend in the tech industry, and will have the most significant impact on consumers and businesses operating within the Digital Economy in Europe. 

> See also: Gartner’s Internet of Things predictions

With tech hype and trends in the marketplace, we’re always interested to understand what the industry itself thinks of emerging technology, so we went directly to the early adopters’ community to capture their views on what they believe the future holds for the IoT, wearable tech, mobile payments and privacy.

Research by NESS (SES) into early adopters reveals that there is an average of 7.5 devices connected to the Internet in one household compared with an average of one device per household ten years ago.

Devices are now connected in a variety of different, more interesting ways including: 25% via a smart watch, 9% to the TV, 15% to a games console, 1% to a vacuum cleaner and 6% to the washing machine.

The consensus was that wearables would be mainstream in three years time, with a small percentage believing the Apple Watch will be the game changer (relevant to the recent sale of the device, of course!), but the majority believe it will take a while for the general public to embrace wearables in their daily lives.

Those surveyed recognised the power in mobile payments with over half (67%) saying they’d pay for a mini bar using contactless these days. 32% would even pay for everything via contactless technology. Yet, only 9% think mobile payments are the ‘next big thing’. 1% think it’s mining asteroids for minerals and 67% think it’s the IoT

Despite the fact that IoT is recognised as the biggest trend to come, privacy is a big area for concern around all of these connected devices. 80% worry about it, yet only 23% take high-level precautions.

So how can business really make the most of this changing digital landscape, and how does this drive product strategies?

Below are three strategies which progressive businesses should consider this year – that is if the work isn’t underway already!

Create your own opportunities 

Look to invest in product strategy development through a user experience workshop, with a focus on connected devices and industry disruption. This will enable you to gather the insight needed to make sure your product is ready for the evolution that’s happening in the marketplace, and to better understand what consumers are looking for from the user experience, now IoT and wearables have well and truly arrived.

Make security a priority

Building trust in your brand is paramount, especially when privacy is high on the consumer agenda in Europe. Consideration of how the product or platform will protect against the rise of hackers, and provide security measures with vital reassurances that matter is essential to users these days.

Open up your service

Increase your reach through an application programming interface (API) strategy, even if your business isn’t planning on investing in the IoT or wearables. Potentially your data, content or software would be useful to another company who is investing in those areas. Most savvy companies have started to ‘let the outside in’ through a digital strategy which includes creating an API layer to their data or software.

> See also: Making the Internet of Things a business reality

It allows a business to develop strategic partnerships with complementary services and build a capability to quickly open up new channels when an opportunity arises. Here we see MyFitnessPal, the largest fitness tracking and calorie counting app, with over 54 million users, connecting their data with health wearables like Fitbit and apps such as Peter Sports (heart rate graphing), to provide a rich consumer experience with a win/win result for all companies involved.

Or Jawbone, a world leader in consumer software and health wearables, creating connections with the Apple Watch, Apple Health and again, Fitbit. You might think this is strange – a wearables hardware manufacturer creating access to and for other hardware manufacturers – but here we see the Jawbone strategic vision is to leverage the software through an API strategy and create a platform which can be utilised by all.

By allowing open access to the industry, they can increase their reach and build a lucrative business on their software. This will ensure their success even if Jawbone wearable devices do not make the marathon.

Sourced from Jane Linton, business director, Ness Software Engineering Services (SES)

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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