November 2, 2015

IoT: Survival of the Fittest

From the consumer standpoint the Internet of Things promises something of a streamlined paradise, a world where our environments bend and react to our every move or thought.

For example, this is how the bathroom of the future may look like:


Bathrooms of the future will give you smart mirrors, more effective body dryers, automated lighting, and many useful tools to get the best experience possible while bathing. Infographic by Premier Bathrooms


But what if you are a company looking to go to market with an IoT product for personal care? Imagine someone buys your intelligent toothbrush and puts it in this intelligent bathroom full of connected and interconnected devices. What happens when your product, literally surrounded by competition, fails to perform?


In an IoT World, There’s Little Margin for Error

In the digital age, application performance is one of the defining factors of a customer’s relationship with that application’s related product. End-user quality of experience is paramount. When an end-user visits a page on Amazon, Amazon loses 1% in sales for every extra 100ms of latency that person experiences, according to this infographic from Equinix. 100ms! It seems like nothing, but on the internet money is measured in milliseconds.

The digital consumer has a world of options at their fingertips, but up until now they have interacted with that world only through a handful of fairly similar devices. As the number of IoT products on the market increases, so do the expectations of consumers who interact every day with dozens of devices that work perfectly, seamlessly, and almost magically. The ones that won’t last.


Don’t Push Your Customers Too Far

The Internet of Things opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for brand awareness. Your product is now always there, always on, always representing your brand. Close associations between brand and product form quickly in the mind of the consumer, and any product that underperforms is more likely to be remembered.

Because an IoT device needs to constantly process data, any failure in the backend supporting that product could sour the consumer’s opinion of the device’s performance. Even if it happens once, and especially if the device delivers inconsistent or erratic results, the experience will color the consumer’s perception of the brand.


Infrastructure Makes IoT

Capable IoT devices require flexible, scalable, and cost-effective IT infrastructure to support the huge amounts of data they may have to produce and process. Not only is the data big, the latency requirements are strict. IoT devices need to perform in or near real-time. That’s fine for one smart toothbrush, but what happens when the numbers take off? If you sell a million smart toothbrushes, you don’t want your infrastructure costs rising a million-fold.

What is so glorious about IoT products is they present the opportunity for a nurtured relationship with the customer, one that doesn’t end at the point of sale. But it is also a relationship that demands continued resources, time, and energy. If these resources are not effectively applied, your bottom line will suffer.


Flawless for Your Customers

Your customers expect real-time performance at the very edge of the fastest part of your network. It’s one thing to process large amounts of data locally in an enterprise data warehouse, where you have thousands of powerful servers connected across a streamlined network topology all in the same location. It’s completely different to do it for millions of customers who are many degrees removed from your core infrastructure.

It’s critical to know that you have a strong, flexible, and distributed backbone when it comes to releasing an IoT product that performs flawlessly. For most companies it’s not possible to tackle a trend as exciting and advanced as IoT while deciphering the complexities of scalable IT infrastructure. Outsourcing is an obvious option, and Ciklum can help.