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Emerging Trends in Consumer IoT Solutions

For the purposes of this post, the conversation refers to Consumer connected Internet of Things (IoT) solutions; as opposed to Industrial IoT solutions


Challenges to Consumer IoT adoption 

1. Connected Fragmentation & Isolated Ecosystem

A plethora of entities have been investing in consumer connected IoT solutions; in some cases with their own ‘isolated ecosystem’ as a differentiator

The very fact that most of these connected products rely on nothing more than a modern smartphone & wireless connectivity actually makes it even more  complicated for an overarching connected IoT paradigm

Everyday Object Meet Connectivity 22. Unpredictable Industry movements

It is established that Connected IoT solutions are here to become a part of our life… but that is not to say it would be from the same vendor

Startups with solid product offering that were once a darling of the industry may cease to exist tomorrow

Even some established entity’s solutions (Alphabet Nest’s recent Revolv announcement comes to mind) may not make it

This is making  consumers even more apprehensive of the overall connected IoT  proposition and related purchase decision

3. Rise in ‘Cautious Early Adopter’ segment 

When it comes to Connected Consumer solutions; broadly speaking there are
3 key types of consumer segments

Early Adopter segment 

Relatively small sized ‘tech savvy / geek’ segment who would stop at nothing to adopt any piece of new technology and who have time &/or know the intricate workarounds of making various connected products work with each other

Cautious Early Adopter segment 

Who are relatively ‘switched on’ about everything technology, connectivity & automation… but cautiously dissect the connected proposition before making any purchase decision

Typically this segment would try to deep dive into the said tech offerings’ core existence, relationship to existing & future electronic devices and most importantly the value (or complexity) it would impart to their recurring activities

En-Masse segment 

Majority of the population who are influenced by tech savvy family members or through trusted Carrier & Retail channels in their connected IoT adoption / purchase decision process

When it comes to Connected solutions, the Cautious Early Adopter segment would need ‘additional convincing’ in the broader adoption of connected IoT solutions


Connected Interoperability to the rescue

Lately, industry consolidation through M&A activities is becoming a common occurrence. But so is x-Product interoperability efforts

These interoperability models could actually aid in alleviating fears of any further  fragmentation within the broader IoT category

2 Key Models

Interoperability

1. Hub / Aggregator Model

Allows for communication between Connected objects and a centralized protocol via set standards to reduce the impact of ‘connected fragmentation’

Manufacturers are increasingly pursuing this interoperability model for their products to communicate with well established / popular smartphones / products already in the market

In this model, the said connected terminal device gains access to features unique to the ‘Hub provider’ for example Siri, Alexa, Google Voice, etc.

2. D2D (Device-2-Device) Model

D2D direct communication protocols between Connected objects from different manufacturers; often across verticals is established to broaden appeal & accelerate ‘Connected take-up’

Startups & established manufacturers alike are increasingly pursuing this interoperability model for their products to communicate with well established / popular smart devices already in in the market

As from the above scenarios, consumers with knowledge of these connected interactions may make up their connected solution by procuring the compatible devices from their vendors; perhaps even directly…but what about the other consumer segments?


Enter Carriers & Retailers

role of carriers

For most consumer segments; Carriers & Retailers still act as a trusted partner / channel / advisor for all things consumer related

Carriers & retailers could act as an aggregator of various connected products (& their vendors); which can then be translated into end consumer lifestyle solutions (Smart Lightning, Security, et al.)

The broader technology industry can leverage Carriers’ & Retailers’ large  brick & mortar footprint, retail expertise and supply chain prowess to promote their connected solutions

Carriers & retailers are apt at creating destination / experience zones where the en-masse can interact & better understand the connected proposition

Carriers & retailers play a critical role in ensuring IoT solution continuity – For example; if Vendor X ceases to exist; similar smart bulb could be sourced from an alternative Vendor Y; thereby ensuring the continuation of the end ‘smart lighting’ proposition (true for products using similar connectivity protocols)

Carriers & retailers play an active role in Device & Vendor Management of end connected solutions through Sourcing, Lifecycle Management and promoting Innovation of the broader category

For retailers of select industry verticals; connected IoT products would serve as a logical extension to their overall value proposition

For example; consumers would find it ‘natural’ to experience connected blood pressure / sugar level products at their local Pharmacy / Drugstore as a part of their overall core health & well-being

Needless to say, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to IoT solution offerings and would depend on the individual Carrier / Retailer, their strategic direction, budget, points of presence (POP), customer demographics served and  ‘investment appetite’


So…

Ultimately, which connected IoT solution(s) / vendor emerges ‘on the top’ is yet to be established

Perhaps there may be no clear winner or maybe the market forces would dictate accordingly

What can be said is that wider industry verticals, OTT players & manufacturers in conjunction with Carriers & Retailers will continue to play a joint role in the propagation of consumer IoT solutions