Riding the IoT Wave
Mobility brought about a huge change in the way we use computing power, enabling people to be more productive than ever while on the move. On the other hand, this led to people taking their eyes off the environment around them. One of the key objectives of technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) and Virtual Reality (VR) is to blend the computing power, artificial intelligence(AI) and data insights(DI) into the environment to enhance the experiences of consuming technology, creating a huge opportunity to create innovative solutions.
In this article, I am trying to summarize how businesses can benefit by riding the IoT wave which as predicted by Gartner is currently climbing the peak of inflated expectation and will reach mainstream adoption in 5 to 10 years from now.
Analyzing the Gartner hype cycle for emerging technologies, currently there are huge expectations from the IoT platform. Even more than what it can actually deliver. This bloated expectation will stabilize in the next 5-10 year timeframe. For people interested to sustain a long term business in IoT, the time is right to start now. This will enable such businesses to be well established in about 3 years and there on ride the slope of enlightenment and reap long term results through the plateau of productivity.
Another key challenge for businesses in IoT as of now is the lack of practical use cases that will generate value for customers. Companies need to demonstrate innovation in coming up with the use cases that will demonstrate return on investments customers are willing to make.
I would like to quote an example here in the area of connected cars. Back in 2003, I worked on a project developing a keyles entry and remote start for cars for the American market. This enabled users to program diesel cars in cold countries to automatically start, run the heater for a brief period and switch off. This helped in keeping the engine warm while parked. This also helped in ensuring that the car is warm when you walk up to it and ready to leave from home or office. I’m sure people living in cold countries know the pain of warning up the car after their hard days work or in the morning after a cold night. Now, the same use case, can also be implemented using IoT platform, you may use a smartphone as the user interface instead of the car’s remote. So, what additional benefits do users get by using the IoT platform? Such questions need to have a clear answer while designing IoT solutions. Turning on the light at home while you are away from your mobile phone is fancy, but, what other value will the solution have that will either generate or save money and time? Perhaps data insights generated from millions of connected cars or homes was not possible in the solution we built in 2003. I’ll leave it to the IoT solution architects to think on this.
Further, designers need to stop thinking that mobile and PCs as the only user interfaces. The user interface needs to blend into the environment. Like one of the classic examples of an umbrella with a LED indicator that indicates a specific color or glows based on the weather update from the internet, we need to think of newer and simpler user interfaces that blend into the environment. Another example of a great use case is a weather sensitive billboard which one of my colleagues envisioned. When it is raining, the billboard may display “Come and enjoy a good cup of coffee at a cafe” the same ad, when it’s sunny may display “Cool off with our new range of cool drinks at our Cafe” thus improving the effectiveness of the advertisement.
The time is right now to start developing IoT solutions with objectives of solving practical use cases and blending the user interface into the environment. You can complete the R&D, run a few pilots in the next couple of years so that by the time the slope of enlightenment starts, you are ready with tested products or solutions.