Anyone who’s ever seen a product like a WiFi-enabled tea kettle or a Bluetooth deadbolt realizes that, although the formula of “take a common household appliance and add the internet to it” seems frivolous — and at times even dangerous — it spawned a genuine revolution. New research shows that once the IoT gets over its early stumbling blocks, companies will find that it builds revenue and increases customer satisfaction.
It’s going to take a lot of effort to integrate the IoT into consumer products in a meaningful way. As we will discuss, there are a lot of very serious obstacles to widespread adoption. Those that master the design and manufacturing of these products will ultimately win out in the long run. Let’s learn why.
Internet of Teething Problems
Critics are fond of saying that the IoT has some teething problems — and they’re not wrong. The Bluetooth locks we mentioned can be hacked in about 10 minutes by a competent script kiddie. A competent locksmith can pick one in about 90 seconds. The aforementioned WiFi teakettle has similar issues — a trained IT professional encountered problems that led to an eleven-hour setup process, for one thing. For another thing, it is also dramatically insecure.
These insecurities add up to some extremely troubling and systemic early problems with the Internet of Things. We’d be remiss, for example, if we didn’t point out the fact that recent massive internet outages were recently caused by hacked IoT devices. These compromised products formed a botnet which directed DDoS attacks against an important internet backbone, leaving thousands of the world’s websites cut off from the internet.
Early Adoption Parallels
It’s evident that what we have are two kinds of organizations trying to succeed. First, there are companies who haven’t made appliances trying to wrap functional household products around WiFi innards. Second, there are established appliance makers who have never dealt with things like mobile integration or Bluetooth before. Our research shows that many companies are finding it difficult to deal with increasing product complexity — but that doesn’t mean that they always will.
A great parallel here is the early adoption of electric appliances during the late 19th Century. Most new electric products weren’t created out of whole cloth like the electric light bulb. Rather, they followed the IoT formula: “take a common household appliance and add electricity to it.” We take these products for granted now, but even a product as apparently simple as an electric clothes iron took decades to supplant its non-electric competitor (essentially a metal box filled with burning charcoal). The first electric iron was patented in 1882 — but didn’t catch on until 1905. In other words, every industrial revolution has its early failures.
How the IoT Will Save Itself
There’s a reason why manufacturers are still pursuing the IoT dream, in spite of the obvious pitfalls. When IoT isn’t done right, it isn’t really just “take a common household appliance and add the internet to it.” Rather, what you end up with is a product that collects data and uses it to make itself better. Your house will know the right temperature to keep itself. Your fridge will know when the milk needs replacing. Everything from your furniture to your walls will have digital connections that make themselves “yours” in a unique way.
Evidence shows that this approach truly is a draw for consumers and a boon for companies that do it right. A survey of 600 companies conducted by LogMeIn shows that 80% of organizations increase their revenue as a result of releasing an IoT product. Most companies gain valuable insights about consumer insight as well, allowing them to fine-tune marketing, product performance, and more.
Companies will keep pushing the IoT, but not all of them will do it right. To learn how more organizations are using new tools to cope with the complexities of IoT functionality, check out the Aberdeen report on Simulation-Integrated Product Development.