The Internet of Things (IoT) era is, in some ways, already here. Our devices aren’t efficiently tied together into a central operating system, and user adoption figures aren’t high, but the industry is projected to develop rapidly in the coming years. Original estimates projected we’d see 50 billion connected devices by 2020; since then, those numbers have been revised to a more modest 30 billion—but that’s still significant enough that businesses need to think about how they’re going to respond to this growing trend.
There are three main areas of development businesses should focus on, in response to the new capabilities that IoT devices provide: greater attention to individualized needs, a dynamic change to online interactions, and the use of higher volumes of data available on your demographics.
The first area of focus is an increased emphasis on individualized needs. IoT devices will offer consumers more customization in their daily lives, drawing data from everyday interactions that are as simple as changing the temperature. Already, some industries are completely transforming to better serve individuals—such as the healthcare industry focusing on individual-specific diagnoses and treatments—but soon, every industry will need to please individual customers.
Consumers will also be engaging online in new ways. Google Home and similar products are already encouraging greater volumes of voice search, and with more devices throughout the home (and elsewhere), consumers will get used to utilizing online features without physical inputs, screens, or conventional user experiences. To date, your online strategies have probably focused on optimizing for screen space or interactivity—but you’ll need to rethink those concepts if you want to appeal to an IoT generation.
Perhaps the most significant change will come in the form of data volume. When consumers have internet-connected devices in practically every area of their life, interacting with each other, they’ll be submitting millions of data points a day. Businesses with access to these data points will be able to learn more about their customers than ever before—if they know how to analyze that data correctly.
The burden on databases will be immense, and developers have been trying to solve the problem for years, but once tapped, you’ll be able to use that data to make better products, make more sales, and advertise more effectively.
Taking the First Steps
IoT isn’t here yet, but you’ll only have a few years to develop your infrastructure before it hits consumers in a big way. Obviously, you can’t funnel your entire tech budget into what is only projected to be a game-changing technology, but it’s important to start thinking about what strategic choices lay ahead, and lay the groundwork for enabling those choices.
Focus on the following areas:
- Employee training. Prepare your employees, particularly those in strategic roles (like sales or marketing), for the influx of data and higher demand for customization about to come.
- New hires. Focus on building up roles like data analysts and UI/UX experts to take advantage of IoT technology.
- New tech. Invest in platforms that will allow you to make the most of consumer IoT.
- Scalability. Focus on creating new (or restructuring old) systems to account for the increased volume IoT will present.
You can start by adopting scalable platforms that will be able to handle the increased load from IoT devices, such as data management and analytics platforms like those offered by SAP. They’ll help your business now, and your team will be ready by the time IoT picks up steam in the next few years.