The Internet of Things (IoT) has been an idea at the edge of market disruption for some time now, and a lot of companies are jumping into the game.
Google acquired Nest to elbow its way into the smart home market. Samsung is pumping out smart watches at breakneck speed to stake its claim on the wearable tech market. Companies are jockeying to take advantage of technologies like iBeacon in the retail space, and a new NFC payment system seems to pop up in tech news each week.
And I am sure everyone has seen the weekly rumors about Apple's unconfirmed, unannounced, often speculated smart watch, which is supposed to be its own entry into the wearable market.
Perhaps it's time to stop reminiscing about the "gold in them thar hills" — and start thinking about the gold waiting to be mined in the IoT.
A Big Pie to Divide
Sure, there are big players jumping in the game, and there is no lack of startups looking to break into the IoT space either. And why shouldn’t there be? Cisco CEO John Chambers has been outspoken about his view that IoT will worth $19 trillion. With a market that big, even a small slice of pie is substantial.
However, while many companies and inventors have great ideas for devices and services, finding the path to profitability is not always easy. After looking at the current IoT landscape and the way the market is moving, I concluded that successful products and services include three essential elements.
Design: A great idea for a product just isn’t enough. If the design is not aesthetically pleasing to the end user, then the odds of prolonged engagement with the product drops significantly. Some of the most successful and anticipated products in the IoT space have all utilized a keen eye to design. A quick look at the Nest thermostat lets you know right away that design was on the top of the list when this smart home device was under development. No doubt that eye on design lead to the company's early dominance in the smart home arena, and played a significant role in Google’s decision to acquire the company.
Function: It should probably go without saying that if you are going to bring a product or service to market and expect it to perform well, then it should offer some type of functionality or at least improve on existing functionality. Not every product is going to be a game changer. But unless a offers some real value in the IoT space, it isn't going to last long.
Use and reuse of data: When an IoT product is on the drawing board, developers should keep in mind the data that it is going to make available — and consider ways they can leverage this data to boost profitability. In the modern era of the IoT, with myriad connected devices and aggregate platforms, the data is everything. Capitalizing on the date generated by a device and using that data to better service the user can make the difference between a successful IoT product launch and a failed one.
Major Growth Ahead
The Internet of Things is still in its infancy. Many products and services will come and go over the next five to ten years, with all of them vying for a piece of that $19 trillion IoT pie.
As the IoT space matures and products and services become more ubiquitous and pervasive, the expectation of their unseen impact on our daily lives will become commonplace. And as the sphere of IoT grows to encompass more of our daily lives, those companies who have developed products or services that quietly have the largest impact on the quality of our lives will be the ones that will generate the highest levels of profit.
Title image by TTstudio / Shutterstock.
About the Author
Dana Blouin is a PhD candidate and researcher at SIIT—Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is conducting research in the areas of the Internet of Things, wireless sensor networks and ubiquitous networking.
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