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Challenges In Supporting IoT Devices

Challenges of the IoT Ecosystem

Whether you’ve noticed it or not, the Internet of Things (IoT) is spreading and influencing your lifestyle. Look no further than your car and you’ll see an inventory of gizmos and gadgets no one had dreamed of just a few short years ago.

GPS, Bluetooth and video/music streaming now sells more cars than torque or gas mileage.

Home appliances used to mean toasters and blenders. Now your appliances talk and listen.

You can control your home security from any location in the world where there’s a WiFi connection.

Doctors can diagnose medical conditions from hundreds of miles away.

And shopping sites are full of deals to bring you into the world of IoT.

The Internet of Things is bringing a whole new set of challenges to both the vendors and users of the technology.

But Here’s The Problem

 

As an IoT vendor, you understand you’re delivering a consumer product that’s new to the user. Why is that significant?

Consumers now have a learning curve with home appliances, and it’s not just “where’s the on/off button” or “how do I set my blender to purée?”

Consumers now have to know how to connect their appliances to their local network, and how to make them work with other devices.

We also have to teach them why interconnectedness is good!

IoT presents a major shift in how consumers relate to and interact with products. And this, in turn, presents major challenges to companies delivering on the promise of IoT.

How To Deliver

To be successful at marketing consumer IoT – which includes home automation, wearables, pet security, as well as sleep and fitness devices (among many other categories)- requires vendors to brand such products as important, secure and useful to consumers.

And it’s got to be easy to use. Anything difficult to understand or use will disarm and disappoint customers.

As a result, delivery plays a much more important role than before. Delivery is more than just packaging and handling.

Challenges for the IoT ecosystem

It begins with product design, image, and advertising. Consider the sleek appearance of Alexa and Google Home. Minimalist design full of functionality and utility.

Branding of any consumer IoT product must show that it actually works at tasks meaningful to the market.

Setup and instructions must be minimal and effective for consumers with no time – nor inclination –  to read.

Consumers want plug-in efficiency, and you need to give it to them.

Best Customer Experience

As IoT products multiply, so do the hubs that look to integrate them, and their accessories.

Consumers are assaulted with competitive products with only slight differentiation as vendors are rushing to get products into the early adopter phase of this market.

And as a vendor, you risk confusing consumers during this phase.

At some point in the next few years, we’ll get to a market correction, where a major shakeout and consolidation in vendors is expected.

And this is a good thing for consumers who both want and need their IoT ecosystem to work simply, efficiently and affordable.

Maturity Presents Challenges

Much of the emerging technology is still relatively immature. Lacking a consistent and universal ecosystem, devices must communicate better amongst themselves and with their respective hubs.

For example, until vendors, connectivity devices and consumers are on the same page, security is still not airtight. There is security exposure to users in the neighborhood, and there are still gaps that leave devices open to hacking, denial of service attacks and ransomware.

An increasing numbers of vendors are promoting products that require service subscriptions. Just like buying a smartphone and paying monthly service, you are now being asked to pay for certain services associated with your IoT home security or automation system and other IoT installations.

And even though it may be difficult to sell the concept initially to the consumer market, business is going the subscription-route. B2B buyers are used to the subscription obligations attached to CRM, HRIS and other SaaS innovations, and consumers technology will catch up soon.

Retaining Customers In A Hardware and Software dual Market

As IoT expands with next-generation products and systems, gaining, securing and retaining customers becomes a priority.

Customers tolerate software bugs more readily than they do malfunctioning hardware. They expect their product to work as described. It must function flawlessly to retain their interest. Customers want flawless performance, and they want that value to be priced fairly.

Hardware is the main product of IoT, and they must deliver this hardware free of operational faults and be ready to provide immediate and satisfactory customer service to address any negative feedback.

But there’s a dual reality for IoT vendors as well. They must support software and connectivity protocols, both embedded in their hardware and in their accompanying mobile or web apps.

The IoT Challenges We Manage

IoT is shaking up product innovation, e-commerce, revenue models, automation, consumer electronics, data footprints, and more. Its rapid growth is challenging product branding, delivery and customer values.

Even where vendors are succeeding, they are subject to rapid change, competition, and replacement. And, as IoT approaches the shake-out phase of its evolution, it needs integration and support.

It needs help in connecting with suppliers, manufacturers, tech startups and SaaS developers. They also need help in identifying and resolving their problems with scalability. And, they need customer experience outsourcing to train customer service and to prepare customers for successful product operation on delivery.

Currently, IoT appeals to consumers with some tech knowledge and taste for all things new. But, at some point, that same market will accelerate, and the type of companies we support will value pioneering experience and support.

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