The Internet Of PeopleSeptember, 2020
To Improve The Internet Of Things, Focus On The Internet Of People
IoT has exploded over the past decade, as lower technology costs and reduced barriers to entry have spurred innovation and growth. By 2025, the IoT industry is expected to be valued at around $1.256 trillion – in comparison, it was worth only $298 million in 2015.
But like all industries that grow quickly, IoT faces a unique set of challenges today. And, at the heart of these challenges is one single theme. IoT companies have begun focusing on technology and innovation at the expense of the users of IoT devices – people.
And that’s a bad thing. Because if IoT doesn’t focus on empowering users and providing them with the tools they actually need to accomplish tasks more effectively – in industrial, commercial, and residential applications – it will never live up to its world-changing potential.
As It’s Grown, The Internet Of Things Has Lost Its Focus On Empowering Users
Even 20 years ago, the idea of an “Internet of Things” would have been pretty much inconceivable. But today, IoT can be found in just about everything. From fridges equipped with cameras and touchscreens, to “smart” home hubs that control appliances like power outlets and light switches, cars connected to 5G cellular networks, and much more.
IoT is equally important in commercial and industrial settings – for doing things like monitoring the number of customers in retail stores, sending data about industrial processes to computers, tracking shipments, and so on.
And, without a doubt, there are use cases for IoT that can revolutionize user experiences, and provide users with enhanced convenience and efficiency. But there are just as many cases where IoT technology is developed without thinking about how it can actually benefit users – the technology is the focus, not the end user experience.
Take a garage door IoT company, for example, that offers you the ability to open your garage door with the tap of a button on your smartphone. Which is fine – but is it better than using a standard garage door remote?
After all, a standard garage remote will work for 10 or 20 years with just a few battery changes – but if garage door company goes out of business and shuts its doors, its remote may stop working after just a few months after a lack of updates.
Or, consider the leading IoT coffee maker. With this coffee maker, you can program your coffee maker to brew at a specific time and clean and descale your coffee maker from your phone.
But do you really want to – or need to? It’s not like those tasks are hard to do without an IoT device – and most regular coffee makers are a lot less expensive than this device.
IoT Needs To Be Rooted On Enhancing The Experiences Of Those Who Use The Technology
The above examples serve an important point. IoT is awesome. It can create amazing user experiences, and do things that simply could not be done in the past.
But it can also complicate things unnecessarily – things like opening a garage door or making a cup of coffee. These basic tasks are simple and easy to accomplish without IoT technology. So what’s the point of these products? Why were they made?
In our opinion, it’s because IoT manufacturers and innovators have become obsessed with creating new technologies without truly thinking about how these unique technologies will actually help users, and what benefits they’ll have in real life.
And that’s the exact opposite of how things should be. IoT, like all other technologies, is a tool – and it’s good at certain things, and bad at others. Applying it across the board unnecessarily is a mistake – even if using the “IoT” buzzword can get you some good press and publicity.
Instead, the user needs to be centered above all else. When developing a new IoT technology, tool, or gadget, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
What does this do for the people who will use it? Why is it better? How does it improve their lives? And if you can’t answer that question, it’s definitely worth questioning the purpose of that technology or IoT device – and if IoT is really the solution at all!
When Developing IoT Technology, Focus On UX First – And Technology Second
What’s the takeaway from this? It’s simple. Focus on user experiences first – and then invent the technology needed to create that user experience. By doing so, you can know that your IoT device is actually accomplishing something, and that it’s the right tool for the job.
IoT offers a lot of opportunities, and while developing for IoT and all of the awesome technologies that go along with it, it’s important to always remember to put the user first. Given how quickly IoT is growing, we can’t afford to lose this “user first” concept.
Focus on the experience and invent the technology to support it.