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Taking your Ideas Beyond

Driving IoT acceptance

Each year we wonder what the future will bring and, when it comes to Internet of Things (IoT), estimates about how big the market can be and identification of the hot markets run wild in the news. The article written by Louis Columbus published by Forbes late November 2016 displays numbers that make everybody dream of success. Most important of all is the analysis from Gartner featured in the article about which customer segment will use the devices: Consumer = 13,5M units in 2020 for a revenue of $1,5B. This raises big questions like: is the consumer market ready to use such a large number of IoT devices? Is the integration of IoT into the life of the consumer easy enough to allow such growth?
Intuitive??? Really???
The smartphone is a great example of learning curve of the general users 10 years after the introduction of the iPhone. TechCrunch has listed the top applications used on smartphones and they really focus on sharing (Facebook), chatting (Facebook Messenger), watching (YouTube) and searching (Google Maps, Google Search). None of the applications touching IoT come on the radar screen yet (IFTT, WEMO, Ring...). This raises the question about limitation factors on acceptance of the IoT. Is IoT really intuitive? Is the value of IoT for the consumer compelling enough to go through the purchase, the installation and the learning?
Target consumer base
In this world of fast technology change, the consumer is the toughest to win. IFTT ran a survey end of 2016 about the areas in which consumers use IoT automation. First is data cloud access, then music streaming and in 3rd position shopping tools. Home automation functions like connected lights, thermostat and home security come behind voice-automated assistants and fitness wearables as the devices that are connected to the internet. To increase the number of IoT consumer users, one has to find ways to win them across generations. We can safely assume that Generation X (1965 - 1980) and Millenials (1985 - 2000) are the ones that dominate the use of technology with Generation X being more critical about when to use it (it has to bring some value) whereas the “late-Millenials" have grown with the technology since their early years. In addition, Generation X is the one that is in its prime consumer mode today (higher buying power) thus the target to convince in the use of IoT devices.
Making it happen!
Clearly, even if you might have the best IoT device in development, the battle is far to be won. It is important to evaluate the market requirements (normal business development and implementation process) but it is also critical to validate the enablement into the market: how to make it easy for a person to use the product.
The struggle for unified standards (i.e. HomeKit vs. Google Home vs. Amazon Echo) will make Generation X customers most reticent to engage due to lack of clarity. Your business must look beyond the product and leverage the ecosystem associated with your product to make it successful (see “Winning Together”). In addition, you must rely on interactive support structures to prepare your customers to accept your product and technology.

Pre-Training + Product Launch Marketing + Post-Sale support = Success

Positioning the product on the market with post-sale training is no longer sufficient to win the business. Pre-training has to be created and made readily available to create the credibility of your brand and product.
Avoid overselling
Competition it tough and the number of IoT devices coming into the market continue to increase. Crowdsourcing has created the trend of “selling prior of production”, setting beautiful websites with great videos, promising wonders and, sometimes, not delivering. As you create your business plan, you must ensure that you do not oversell your product and then deceive by coming late on the market or not delivering to your promises. Pre-training and market preparation for your product is no longer an option. Consumers have the tools to search and compare prior of their buy-decision; in many cases, they are willing to wait a little longer to acquire the product they think is the best for them. Use the opportunity to position yourself and prepare a strong product launch to maximise your success.
Stiffan Consulting strives to help startups and established companies to create a good knowledge about how ensuring that your marketing and business development approach is sound and consistent with the customer base you are targeting. By assisting you in reviewing your goals, understand the potential markets and validate the right approach, I help ensuring product market success with you.
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© STIFFAN Consulting January 2017

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