At this midway point of CES 2015, we wanted to hit the pause button and unpack one of this week’s hot topics—the Internet of Things—and see how IoT is evolving as a consumer proposition with the explosion of products and devices, and what that means for brands delivering on the promise of a better, seamless life through technology.
Below, read our virtual roundtable with five people who are making sense of IoT and the connected ecosystem—or as Interbrand calls it, Mecosystem—with insights from:
• Josh Feldmeth, CEO of Interbrand North America
• Antoine Veliz, Executive Director of Innovation, Interbrand
• Gareth Price, Technology Director, Ready Set Rocket
• Jake Whisler, WEMO Product Manager, Belkin
• Barry Silverstein, Senior Director, InterbrandHealth.[more]
Q: The Internet of Things is a hot topic at CES—what does that mean to most consumers, and what’s the opportunity for brands?
Feldmeth: The Internet of Things doesn’t mean anything to consumers. And it never should. They don’t care how many connected devices and sensors they have in their homes or cars, and soon there will be too many to count, even if they did.
The IoT opportunity for brands is foundational because it creates the infrastructure needed to support seamless, simple, intuitive and amazing experiences. While the average consumer will never care about IoT, they will come to appreciate it deeply. What we call “Internet of Things,” they will simply refer to as “things that just work.”
Q: So does the term “Internet of Things” help or hurt, and how can brands help customers navigate IoT as it evolves?
Veliz: Despite the buzz, the phrase is helpful. It promises that parts of the physical world will come online and become social. That said, like most promises it will mean little until there is evidence of its value. As the IoT space matures, brands will guide organizations on what products should come online, and how the relationship between product and user unfolds. Brands will provide a blueprint for how the needs and desires of users are recognized and responded to by the organization’s products.
Organizations that have already been working to bring their products online will viscerally understand the benefits of connection. We are seeing the bets that large industrials made in connecting their products pay off and there is evidence that small companies can succeed with thoughtfully-connected, personal products. In most cases their brands played a critical role in prioritizing the actions and investments these businesses made and how their products would connect.
The brand will translate the values of the organization and the strategy of the business into the experience they bring to market, ensuring products and people are connecting in meaningful and profitable ways.
Q: What are some of the hurdles you’re seeing?
Price: 2015 will be another year of nascency for the Internet of Things. Mass consumer adoption is still a number of years out, but we will start to see some consumer devices from major manufacturers hit the market aimed at early adopters.
The major trend in 2015 will be industrial and commercial adoption of IoT technologies, although this will be hampered by interoperability issues between devices and at least one major IoT-related security breach that will shake confidence in the technology. However, in the long run this will be valuable as it will enhance the security of IoT devices in subsequent years, priming them for consumer adoption.
Q: Jake, WEMO is one of the leading players in this space. How are you making sense of smart home automation and connected ecosystem for consumers?
Whisler: The smart home space is growing rapidly. At WeMo, we are focusing on the pieces of your life that matter: comfort, awareness and atmosphere. We are focusing on providing solutions to the things in your life that are stressful or problematic.
Our goal is to make your life easier and simpler so you can spend more time enjoying it. By reaching out to each and every person with use cases that help improve their life, the smart home is no longer a early adopter fad, but something that everyone can benefit from. We see the space turning in that direction as a method to achieve mass market penetration.
Q: Wearable devices are now at the heart of just about every discussion related to the Internet of Things, especially for tracking health. Barry, what’s your take on how this is playing out in terms of healthcare and consumers?
Silverstein: Wearables are right now in a huge “gold rush” with healthcare companies trying to get consumers to measure their steps, their sleep, caloric intake and any other unit that might be seen as a measure of “health.” Nobody is sure how things will sort out, particularly when you have baby boomer consumers and millennial consumers needing and wanting very different things.
We are still in the very early stages of the digital health boom. Right now, companies are trying to raise money by claiming that they have the best, fanciest way to measure your health, and we are a long way from being done. For my money, place your bets on Apple, Google and Samsung. They will either develop the technology or buy any new company once they become big enough.
There are big plans in health, but right now most consumers are figuring out how to pay their new insurance bills, and not yet ready to strap on their Fitbit for a few months before putting it back in the sock drawer.