How can retailers take advantage of the Internet of Things?

Controlling house over IoT
Photo: Redpixel.pl, Bigstock

Telsyte predicts by 2021, the Australian Internet of Things (IoT) market will be worth $4.7 billion. The same study found more than 40 per cent of Australian households have at least one IoT device, and the average Australian household has 14 different internet connected devices.

The IoT market in Australia will continue to experience rapid growth, as consumers search for new ways to make their lives more convenient and personalised through their suite of connected devices and applications.

Arguably, the most important and complex challenge about IoT are the user interface and user experience (UX) components. UX-focused design seeks to optimise levels of customer satisfaction and delight by making products both intuitive and useful for the consumer. It’s an approach to production that puts the customer first. And with IoT devices on such a fast trajectory of growth, it’s imperative that these production principles are applied for competitive advantage.

Optimising for the user experience in IoT devices (both hardware and software) must be priority number one. Digital businesses must ensure that these complex, interconnected applications are performing at the highest level and the massive amount of data generated by these apps is being monitored, managed and analysed in a way that will continuously optimise business decisions.

There are three simple ways for technology leaders to address three key pillars of UX for IoT deployments and devices.

An emphasis on safety

Smart cars, smart TVs, and wearables are now almost as commonplace as mobile phones. But with this increased level of connectivity between people and their devices comes legitimate concerns about data security. In the Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2017, 69 per cent of Australians claimed to be more concerned about the security of their private information when using the Internet than they were five years ago.

The explosion of IoT devices increases the potential opportunities for cyberattacks, with more and more links forged between people, their devices, and devices to one another. Therefore, it is vital to install apps that promote transparency and have the correct layers of security in place to protect users and their data whilst they use their IoT connected devices

Keeping it relevant

According to Gartner, about 30 per cent of people across Australia, US, and UK who had ever worn a fitness tracker no longer use their device. What this means is that rate of abandonment with IoT devices is high, and ownership does not equate to use – companies must constantly come up with new ways to improve their technology and make devices competitive and helpful to the user.

But with so many new products available, we must look to the reasons that people are not buying more – or not continuing to use a device after they first purchase it.

IoT can be a fragmented category, as data that is available and shared with one app may not seamlessly integrate or transfer with another IoT product’s back end. This puts the onus on the user to keep all their devices updated, and over time this becomes unsustainably inconvenient.

Moreover, it is continuous, deep, and real-time application monitoring that is crucial in order to maintain performance and deliver exceptional UX for the user. Companies that do not capture and interpret data in the best ways are at risk of missing a crucial step in the IoT game. Performance monitoring is a great way to ensure real-time user behaviour is always matched with business performance, and with their unique wants and needs of the moment.

Optimal performance at all times

Ultimately, if an IoT device is secure and relevant, this still won’t contribute meaningfully to its longevity as a device or to its contribution to a business model. The third and most important ingredient is performance of the IoT device and infrastructure – in terms of speed of delivery, accuracy, and reliability: ultimately, customer experience.

This doesn’t come without its challenges – but once conquered, will be the key that unlocks IoT success. There’s a growing number of devices, data formats, and external threats, and the relationships between these components must be monitored continuously and efficiently. They must also be flexible and work seamlessly together, creating scalable and intelligent systems that a user can dip in and out of as desired.

The internet of things will usher in new opportunities for customer insight, as organisations now have a direct line of sight over how customers experience their products and services. To drive successful IoT projects, companies must adapt business models to become more in tune with customer preferences. Security, relevance, and performance is the trifecta to making IoT a constantly-improving and indispensable asset for users.