BLOGTHNG

image

What makes EVRYTHNG unique that we focus on connecting ALL products to the Web, not just electronic goods. We may think IoT is synonymous with connected appliances like fridges today, but it’s worth remembering that the origin of term ‘Internet of Things’ was conceived in MIT’s Auto-ID labs in 1999 and it was based on connecting a network of dumb, non-electronic products via RFID tags. So EVRYTHNG doesn’t discriminate about the kind of product can be made smart.

Consumable products are on-boarded to our IoT smart products platform by scanning a product tag or packaging code. We believe that manufacturers of consumer packaged goods are just as eager to get to know their customers better and to extend those relationships through IoT strategies.

And we passionately believe that, when consumable and durable products are connected to the Web, they offer an entirely new category of use cases. For example, my refrigerator can tell me whether I have the required ingredients for a recipe I’m planning to prepare and if any of the items have exceeded their ‘use by’ date. Or, my frozen dinner can instruct my microwave oven how it is to be cooked. At this stage, we can only begin to imagine the possibilities of an IoT world that includes virtually every physical thing in existence.

The IoT technology we’ve developed for tagged goods applies equally to fully connected products. After all, both active and passive products share the requirement for many common elements such as management of huge volumes of data, integration with a variety of ecosystems, enterprise security, protection of customer privacy, service level guarantees, and the ability to scale to millions of discrete products.

As we engage with connected product manufacturers, and we are finding that many of the lessons we’ve learned to date apply very well. Here a just a few:

1) Before embarking on any IoT project, consider the value proposition: namely, who benefits and how. The way I get at this with customers is by asking the simple question: Why are you developing an IoT product? For most companies, it’s the end consumer who is supposed to benefit from the connectivity, however, I still see companies struggling to come up with convincing customer-facing use cases they believe in.

2) Next, do not overlook the complexities of the ecosystem. Connectivity is NOT “just another feature”. Consider both how your connected product will affect your ecosystem partners and how they in turn will influence your success or failure. As a simple example, studies suggest that if a customer fails to get the product connected after about 5-10 minutes, they will give up and return the product. That’s a direct expense to your retail partner that cannot be overlooked.

3) Finally, you have to develop an acceptable ROI goal and business model that enables you to achieve it. This is an area where the industry is still struggling. One clear learning is that consumers are highly intolerant of new subscriptions but are reasonably open to adding service to an existing subscription. This bodes well for service providers and b2b plays where a service contract is already in place.

Most product manufacturers are taking the approach of simply marking up the the ‘connected’ version of the product to maintain margins, which is straight-forward but puts even more emphasis on a compelling end user value proposition.

Here I’ll close with what might be a controversial prediction: just as your cellular provider discounts the price of your phone to far below market level, the value of a connected customer will be so great that product manufacturers and their ecosystem partners, will  eventually happily subsidize any additional cost for connectivity just to reap the downstream benefits once those products make their way into the hands of consumers.

[Curt Schacker gave this talk at the ‘Smart Home: Channel Strategies and Business Models‘ event at CES 2015]

CES_logo.svg

EVRYTHNG will be at CES 2015 in Las Vegas from Jan 6 – 9. I’ll be there with Curt Schacker, Vice President and Managing Director, Connected Products, meeting with customers and speaking at private and public events.

For example, Curt will be participating in the ‘Smart Home: Channel Strategies and Business Models‘ panel, discussing how IoT technologies can create unique, ecosystem-connected consumer experiences in the smart home.  This is part of the CES Connections Summit located at CES Tech West, Venetian Ballrooms Level 1, Casanova Rooms 601-603 and focused on “Monetizing Smart Home Solutions & Connected Devices”. You can register for the summit here.

We’ll be based at the Aria Hotel but are happy to meet at other locations, if more convenient, to discuss and demo how EVRYTHNG’s IoT Smart Products Platform connects any consumer product to the Web — from connected, electronic household appliances to digitally tagged packaged goods — managing real-time data to drive product applications and experiences.

If you’d like to arrange a meeting please email myself or Curt and we’ll be happy to schedule it in.

Last month I spoke at Blend Web Mix, an exciting conference about all things Web with a broad audience than spanned developers, designers and entrepreneurs. Very much the French equivalent of SXSW, there were many interesting presentations about up and coming trends in Web technologies and digital marketing.

One of the talks was particularly interesting and relevant, and I’d like to share my notes about this topic, along with my own thoughts and discussions to push the discussion further. Given by Francois le Pichon, it was called “Five trends for digital in-store experiences in 2015″ and focused on how the Web of Things will impact the physical, in-store shopping experience in the next few years.

blend-web-mix-1

In a nutshell, the presentation highlighted the fact that most digital in-store experiences today are merely a big screen or iPad that displays information; but that there is much more to think about and explore to create a whole new generation of digital interactions with physical products, especially as technologies are maturing and now ripe for prime time.

Trend 1: Experience & Emotion

At the end of the day, a happy visitor in a shop equates to a happy paying customer. Unlike an airport – which is designed for functionality and implementing legislation (for example, passport control, body & luggage scanners) – a shop has much more latitude to prioritize feelings over function. Various studies show that a positive product and shopping experience can turn a passer-by into a long-term customer. So two angles to rethink when designing in-store experiences are: first, where do we put the devices and digital manifestations of a product, and second – what are the best touch-points for digital product experiences? We should explore multi-modal experiences for products, not just displays but especially sound, smell, touch – which can often be more visceral and create a deeper, longer-lasting feeling.

A great example of including the physical environment into a digital campaign is Ourworks’ “blowing in the wind” campaign, where sound sensors detected a train coming and the display would show a video of a woman’s hair being blown by the wind. Simple and only a display, but the way it included real-world, contextual information (sound of the metro coming), certainly created a lasting impression for commuters.

Trend 2: Wearables & Virtual Reality

As shown by Apple jumping on the wearables train and Facebook into virtual reality (with the Oculus Rift acquisition in March), the Internet of Things is becoming more personal, intimate, and realistic – and the barrier between what is real and what is not will be increasingly blurred. Leveraging these trends represents a huge opportunity for physical shops, where the best of both of worlds can be leveraged to provide a deeper relationship with customers.

Wearables are introducing a whole new media to explore novel in-shop experiences, as new interaction paradigms can be designed for wearables, both when shop employees and customers wear them. An interesting example was Virgin Atlantic employees using Google Glasses to scan passengers’ tickets and immediately seeing informations about the passenger, their flight, real-time delays and arrivals, seating information and dietary requirements.

A New York fashion retailer used Oculus Rift VR kits in their shops as a stunt that allowed customers to see the latest fashion shows in real-time through someone sitting on the first row (allegedly Kate Moss!). To learn more about wearables and how they’ll disrupt the Web of Things, download EVRYTHNG’s wearables white paper.

Trend 3: Omnichannel & Social Networks

Consumers increasingly want to be recognized across multiple channels and interfaces (physical shops, social media, or eCommerce websites) in a seamless way. Consumer opt-in is key to making this work: retailers need to avoid the creepy feeling of being tracked and watched, to assure the consumer of the security and privacy of their information, and to avoid irritating loyal customers by pushing them offers that either aren’t relevant, or that they haven’t opted into (see Trend 4 below!).

As such, it’s critical to reach consumers using a high degree of personalization. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy products that have positive feedback from other consumers – for example, Amazon reviews – and particularly when the recommendation comes from a friend, or friend of a friend. Connecting social networks and the product graph (which of your friends bought which product) will therefore play an increasing role in digital shopping, as well as feeding into the design of physical shopping experiences.

Trend 4: Beacon technology

Currently, most beacon-based applications are limited because they require you to run a specific application on your phone; furthermore, most iBeacons use cases are around pushing (often unsolicited) ads to consumers. When advertising company Titan placed hundreds of iBeacons in phone booths around New York and created a network that tracked consumer movement around the city, their failure to issue any public notification, or seek consultation or approval for their project, led to widespread outrage, and ultimately the failure of the initiative.

A much better use case for beacon technology is to use them to provide additional information based on location – for example, navigation or application interfaces that change according to where you are in a museum or shop, and add more interesting layers of interactivity over physical places (for example, adding user-generated content to works of arts in a museum, or creating digital treasure hunts).

Trend 5: Analytics & CRM

Today, “digital” for most brands means data, analytics, and CRM; but there’s an increasing interest in gathering and layering on data on the real-world activity happening in shops – where users come from, who stays and what they buy.

The real challenge for brands is to understand the value of digital: is it just about tracking users? Or perhaps, understanding those users? For a brand to adopt a large-scale digital strategy, it needs to clearly understand how it will enable better communication with customers, leading to improved targeting and communications that deliver increased sales.

It is clear that the large majority of customers (70%, according to Forbes) are willing to provide demographic information in exchange for discounts or special purchasing privileges. In other words, provided the right incentives are in place, everything can be sold; particularly when the privileges go beyond a simple financial transactions to offer a higher form of value, like making a donation to charity, getting more out of products, or offering personalization.

Summary

Digital marketing in 2015 means so much more than sending 10% off coupons blindly through newsletters or social media, or worse: bulky and boring screens tracking your movement to send you impersonal and unsolicited spam.

The future of digital marketing lies in the ability to forge long-lasting and deeper connection with your customers in a transparent, seamless, and engaging manner. It means knowing your customers: their preferences, and behaviour, with a much finer granularity than ever before, in order to better serve their needs. It means genuinely connecting with them in real time and across multiple channels, particularly around emerging technologies as a means of enabling a whole new range of interaction paradigms and functionality, which, in turn, lead to stronger emotional links between your brands and consumers.

Wearables white paperWearables are a really hot topic right now: a tangible, very cool consumer-facing example of the IoT in action.

But while wearables are often seen as a new product category, they’ve actually been around for a while already – for example, pacemakers and hearing aids.

Thanks to technological advances, the category has grown at an impressive rate in recent years, with more new devices than you can shake a stick at – and it seems set to explode going into 2015.

At EVRYTHNG, we believe that the key to success in wearables is the ability to connect these devices with other connected things. This ensures lateral data flow across the broader arena of applications and devices people use to operate their digital lives.

What does this open, Web of Things approach mean in a practical sense? A greater ability to share data across wearables devices and other connected products – for example, think fitness bands that don’t exist in isolation, but talk to other apps and devices that address your health and nutrition needs.

Interested in learning more about our take on the future of wearables? We’ve outlined our thoughts – including the importance of a Web of Things approach – in a white paper: Wearables and the Web of Things.

Connected guitarFounder and CMO Andy has requested the next item on our IoT wishlist: a connected guitar. He says:

“I’d love a connected guitar.

It would stream the notes I play into the cloud, and let me do data visualization, as well as connect data with other apps.

For example, I could play the riff to Sweet Jane and this would trigger Pro-Tools to start recording, kick in some CBGB-style connected mood lighting, turn the phone and doorbell ringers off while I’m recording, and update my Facebook profile to a picture of the cover of Transformer.

My connected guitar would also give me tutorials, and intelligent tips and recommendations based on what I’ve been playing.”

 

What would you add to our IoT wishlist? Tweet @EVRYTHNG and tell us!

 

Guitar designed by Liliane Lass Erbe from the Noun Project