If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ (but what if it is?) - ensuring quality and value in IoT

From tiny devices that find your car keys, to city wide smart lighting systems, the use of connected technology has the potential to make life simpler and better. As demonstrated at this year’s CES, consumer and business interest in intelligent technology continues to grow - and slick, sophisticated products once again hit the headlines. 

But the demand for new products from consumers and businesses mean that software and apps are often rushed to market, and quality issues inevitably arise. For businesses, bugs and failures can result in lost revenue and disappointed customers. For individuals, tech that doesn’t work leads to frustration and disillusionment. We won’t buy products which don’t do their job, and we’ll share our negative experiences with others. In an environment where Amazon reviews can make or break a company, ensuring a positive user experience is paramount. 

Quality and value - the central link 

For lots of us, connected devices appeal because they’re shiny and novel. We don’t need them - but we want them. The sexy marketing campaigns tell us we’ll be left out if we don’t have the latest bit of technology - and until now, we’ve been convinced.   

But quality issues associated with quickly designed, high volume products, can lead consumers to reflection. If the slickest products don’t work properly, then it’s inevitable we start to question their value. Do we really NEED that connected rubbish bin? And how about the tile which won’t let us find our house keys unless we’re connected to our home wifi (and so probably already indoors)? If quality fails, then the natural next step is to reassess value. 

So, in order to survive, vendors that want to play in this domain need to start thinking seriously about both these pertinent issues. To successfully navigate such a crowded but transient market, quality assurance and a robust value proposition must be the cornerstones of product development.   

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular connected technologies to see how well vendors are meeting these crucial requirements - and how they can further improve. 

Keep talking 

Voice activated technology is popular - and my bet is that it’s here to stay. Many homes have an Amazon or Google device which understand us pretty well, if not completely. From offering real-time traffic information for an impending work journey, or adding items to a shopping list which is accessible on all your devices, the value proposition in these “assistant” type devices is clear. 

But even in this relatively mature IoT sub-sector, the potential hasn’t been truly recognised yet. Interoperability is a key issue - simply, these systems aren’t able to connect to enough devices in the home for us to realise their true worth.  

But we’re not far off a truly connected experience. In 2017 we will see more and more enterprises and service providers such banks, insurance firms, and retailers integrating with those great devices to give their customers the value they really need. This is absolutely going to progress in 2017, but if we’re trying to use this technology in stores where customers can complain straight away, it needs to be perfect before coming to market.    

Home is where the tech is 

Connected home gadgets will keep getting most of the focus from media and industry alike. They are cool, innovative and fun. However there needs to be true value, which is actually quite easy to demonstrate and understand in the connected home. The importance of a well-lit, warm and comfortable home - stocked with groceries - is clear, and connected technology is helping us achieve that. 

I would expect security to be the key area we’ll see most growth in when it comes to both the connected home and car. Security and safety sensors such as flood detection and motion detection combined with connected security cameras are a great combination of excellent price-value. 

But, ensuring quality in security applications is paramount. Security isn’t something we can take chances with, and like with medicine as we’ll touch on shortly, everything released in this area needs to be pre-tested across a range of real user conditions. The most successful vendors will demonstrate the reliability and longevity of their products - ensuring users know that they’re not just buying the newest connected product, but also the best quality.   

Medicine divided   

We’re connecting new things all the time, even our bodies. The value for medical devices is extremely clear and in many cases is actually life changing. Innovation in this area might take a bit more time simply because the market is under lots of regulations. But connected glucose pumps, heartbeat monitors and alike have true value and the technology is mature now.   

Connected medicine is on a mission to empower patients and healthcare providers alike. It can fundamentally change how care is delivered - and provide individuals the tools to better manage their own care. Connected health devices also generate user data which can benefit and drive a whole industry. Mining information from connected healthcare products can significantly help to identify areas for improvement and even create new solutions for health problems.   

The winning product at CES in January was a smart and connected breast pump and this is the kind of product we need to be seeing more of; products that meet an existing need and pain. My bet is that we will see connected medical devices taking over previous generation products in their domain, and this will be huge in 2017. 

So, the potential is still great for connected technology. IoT is not yet dead. Nor is consumer interest in IoT devices waning. But quality issues present a real threat to vendors, and must lead them to re-evaluate the products and services they offer. 

To continue to thrive, the whole industry needs to take a step back and think about how they can make the most out of connected technology, to create products that truly serve a purpose and are thoroughly tested and robust before they come to market.   

Yoram Mizrachi, CTO, Perfecto 

Image Credit: Chesky / Shutterstock