Embracing the ecosystem – the first step to thriving in the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things has taken the world by storm. With a long list of potential benefits for businesses and consumers alike, it is no surprise that there is a growing list of companies aiming to tap into the potential.
The interest is so high that Gartner has predicted that there will be 20 billion connected devices by 2020.
Connected devices cover a wide range of products but at the moment, smart home technology is emerging as the lead gateway and pace setter in the marketplace. From connected fridges to smart meters, consumers have a considerably higher level of exposure to connected products for the home than for any other group of products.
Based on this exposure and the impact certain products have had at this point, it gives us a great platform to explore and consider what it takes to develop a successful product in the wider IoT market, says Ryan Lester, director of IoT Strategy, Xively by LogMeIn.
The Internet of Things is based on a network of connected products and as such, fitting into the ecosystem of connectivity is pivotal to the success of any product and the IoT as a whole. Being able to integrate products together allows connected devices to seamlessly communicate in a way that creates the experiences that make the IoT the exciting prospect that it is. Without this communication and the ability to interact effectively with other products, the Internet of Things would be no more than a vanity project.
Making this seamless communication possible is easier said than done, however. Product companies need to work together to develop universal standards to control and make sense of the communication between devices and the data that will be produced as a result. These standards must then be incorporated with broader systems and platforms provided by tech giants like Google, Apple and Amazon.
Many of these widely recognisable, mainstream brands have been developing connected home products in recent months that have been built using this open approach. Apart from the seamless experience that this enables, it also provides growth opportunities for the market by allowing smaller companies to develop solutions that meet various needs created by the mere existence of these hub products.
Going beyond the consumer market, business considering embarking on a connected product journey need to invest in IoT platforms with interoperability built-in from the design stage. A report from McKinsey stated that 40% of the value of IoT will be driven by the interoperability. This is not just about interoperability with other IoT systems however. It is more about the ability of your IoT system to integrate with other existing business systems such as you ERP, CRM and other business applications.
For example, a technician in the field would benefit greatly from having access to IoT data such as live error logs and other contextual data on his mobile device. This data can be very useful for improving efficiency and handling time, which will ultimately boost loyalty and revenues.
It is also important to consider the potential stumbling block that a lack of seamless integration could be to the Internet of Things. If the number of connected devices grows as predicted, it is highly unlikely that consumers and businesses would want separate apps to control the individual devices.
A single device management app provides a focal point around which all the devices can work neatly together. It also provides a central place for data to be gathered and used to improve the product and service if necessary.
The ecosystem underpins the Internet of Things and it is the web into which devices are knitted to enable the enhanced customer experience. If only for this reason, companies should invest in making sure that their connected products ‘play nice’ with other products in the ecosystem in a way that enables the experience customer’s desire.
The author of this blog is Ryan Lester, director of IoT Strategy, Xively by LogMeIn.
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