The Internet of Things: Where Should Brands Draw the Line?

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Everywhere you turn, it seems there's another "connected" device that promises to make your life easier. But, while these gadgets continue to breathe life into the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, consumers are increasingly wary of how widespread adoption will impact their daily lives.
Customer Strategy

Everywhere you turn, it seems there's another "connected" device that promises to make your life easier. But, while these gadgets continue to breathe life into the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, consumers are increasingly wary of how widespread adoption will impact their daily lives.For brands, the true challenge lies within their ability (or lack thereof) to demonstrate everyday value by positioning these technologies as worthwhile tools that simplify common activities without crossing that invisible line between useful and intrusive. Cyril Brignone, CEO of Arrayent, notes that companies can be commercially successful only by making products that solve problems for customers. "Consumer brands want to better serve their customers so that they stay customers, and refer friends to become customers. IoT technology enables physical product brands to ultimately transform themselves into becoming service providers, and gain access to recurring revenue possibilities."

If these innovations fail to meet such criteria, Brignone recommends that companies shift gears and focus their attention on products that will resonate. For instance, refrigerators with Web browsers on the door are often more cumbersome than advantageous, as few consumers would opt to stand and update their Facebook status when they can now easily complete such tasks via smartphone or tablet. Manual barcode scanners that manage real-time refrigerator inventory also fail to satisfy, as Brignone notes that "anyone who has the money to buy such a refrigerator certainly doesn't have the time to add barcode scanning food items to their day."

Brands, first and foremost, must become acquainted with their customer base. Many major brands admit that they have no idea who their customers are, as companies regularly only engage in conversation with consumers at the time of purchase. It's this knowledge and familiarity, however, which will perpetuate future success, for companies cannot survive by introducing subpar products in today's competitive, fast-paced market. Connected products have the power to strengthen brand relationships, but failed attempts may trigger the opposite effect.

Chamberlain, for example, provides an app that enables homeowners to control and monitor their garage door opener from anywhere in the world via their mobile device. Leaders saw an opportunity to ease the consumer's burden by eliminating the need to turn around and drive home to see if the garage door was really closed. Users can also see how long ago the garage door was close or how long it's been open, so they may infer when and if their loved one got home from school or work. Though relatively simple, this particular innovation accounts for common consumer behaviors and solves an omnipresent concern in an effort to save customers time and energy.

More and more connected products are invented daily, thereby allowing more useful services to emerge. Brignone emphasizes that, ultimately, successful applications are only limited by our imaginations. Thus, as brands begin to reach beyond their present limitations, innovators will come to lead the way, ushering in an era when connected products and devices will enhance our daily lives, not detract.

Learn more about the present and future state of the IoT by reading Judith Aquino's feature, The Internet of Me.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION