Wishing you a Merry IoT Christmas

Christmas lights, tree decorations, everybody gathers for family celebration. The gifts start to show up under the tree; what will be IoT enabled this year? It happens to be that most of us already forgot about how much IoT is already in our lives. From the internet connected power plug to light the tree at the touch of a smartphone command to the AppleTV or Amazon Fire device streaming Christmas music, connected devices have been creeping into our daily lives.
IoT: it is everywhere... as it should be
While reaching year’s end, I came across several blogs questioning if 2017 will be the year of IoT. Are connected devices going to rush into our homes and offices more than they have in the past years? Of course they will! As the personal scale, TV and appliances gradually get to be replaced after their usual wear and tear, the new and improved version come to the space and connect to our home network. It hit me last week to see how many devices are connected to my home Wi-Fi network as I opened my router’s wireless control panel to make a couple of updates (including the password) and see how many Wireless MAC addresses are authorised to connect: 31 devices!! And more are to come as intermediate “bridges” come to connect my Hue lights and other smart lighting HomeKit applications.
More examples like the coffee machine that you can manage from a distance (Nespresso Prodigio to name one) and smart connected cameras show that IoT is no longer a buzz word but a fact of consumer life.
Creating the connected need
Advertising campaigns showing that one can change the type of coffee to brew for that morning cup or manage the amount of detergent to be used for the delicate cycle of your preferred cashmere sweater; appliance manufacturers are all looking for long term customer loyalty and repeat revenue through embedded supply management, maintenance or monitoring services. In one of its articles early this year, Appliance Design pointed, rightly so, that tomorrow’s application design have to work in an ecosystem mode rather than in a disjointed, application-focus mode.
Ecosystem is the name of the game
The approach of ecosystem is not new as you might remember of the toothbrush and adjoined toothpaste or the dishwasher and its preferred detergent... yet, today, the ecosystem goes much beyond the service provided by a product. Take the example of the Philips Hue lighting system: not only it requires the bridge to communicate with your house’s network and its lighting dependents but it also integrates with the TV’s Ambilight to provide you with a deeper experience when you watch movies or play games. Another example is the integration is Miele’s connected appliances with the home electrical system from Busch-Jaeger to create a full networked house, resulting of communication of the state of energy load, priorities and comfort for the user.
As consumer, one might be interested in spending the extra money for connected applications but one wants to make sure that the dependencies that it generates (i.e. network compatibility) are manageable and worth the cost. The more participants into the ecosystem, the lower the risk of its obsolescence.
Managing ecosystems
The complexity of ecosystem management resides mostly in the fact that the multiple win factor for an ecosystem to be successful increases dramatically with the number of ecosystem players into the program.
page2image7187760# of Ecosystem Members / #Win Factors
The larger the ecosystem program is, the more reliable it becomes but, also, the more complex it is to administer. The value of each member of the ecosystem must be highlighted and mapped to draw a comprehensive relationship chart in which the customer is the key focus at all times. If the value of the ecosystem creates a win-win only for the ecosystem members, the program’s destiny is death. An ecosystem program evolves constantly as the customer’s needs change with time and technology development. Some members might exit, some other might enter, but at all times, the customer must remain the focus.
More IoT = more ecosystems
As IoT continues to infiltrates our lives and provide its daily value to our comfort, energy savings, safety and connectivity, keep in mind that it will continue to require more ecosystems to ensure its integration. Ecosystems supporting communication frameworks like HomeKit, continue to be a good example of multiple win-win, complementarity of technologies and most importantly, keeping the customer at the centre of the equation. If you are part of those startups or makers interested to create applications into the IoT world, you will have, eventually, to become part of an ecosystem and possibly even create your own.
Welcome to the world of IoT and Merry IoT Christmas to you.
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© STIFFAN Consulting December 2016