When we talk about the IoT (Internet of Things), we talk a lot about growth, growth, growth. That’s because no matter how much we all want to avoid hype, there are just so many areas of opportunity for the IoT, and it’s hard not to talk about the possibilities. A quick Google search on the IoT will tell you things like: We can expect 12.86 billion IoT sensors and devices to be in use by 2020 in the consumer sector alone, and vertical-specific sensors and devices will exceed 3 billion by 2020.
Accenture says the industrial IoT market will reach $123 billion by 2021. McKinsey predicts the IoT market will eventually be worth $581 billion for ICT (information and communication technologies)-based spending. The picture that these predictions doesn’t paint, though, is that the IoT isn’t necessarily destined to hit these growth numbers. The IoT has to work for a lot of people before it starts living up to all the hype.
And yes, some of it is hype, even though the opportunity is clearly there, and I believe wholeheartedly in the value the IoT can help businesses achieve. For this column, I just might have to play devil’s advocate a bit.
Let’s look at people’s confidence in the IoT; maybe it’s not as bulletproof as we think, and this could be a roadblock to unhindered IoT growth. What can we do to increase confidence in the IoT? This will be my first topic today.
When it comes to your connected life and your connected business, performance matters and that means the performance of your devices, your network, your software, and systems—the whole thing.
If you’re investing in digitized workflows, you are putting your faith in the IoT. Unfortunately, the user experience isn’t always perfect for businesses or consumers.
A recent report that focused on IoT performance, for instance, suggests consumers are experiencing digital performance issues at least once a day. The Dynatrace report says here in the U.S., the frequency of digital performance problems actually averages to be about 1.8 times per day.
Looking at the consumer segment, the survey suggests 52% of consumers are using IoT devices, and 64% of those who are using IoT devices have encountered performance issues. No one wants to see that percentage of people who have had issues to be that high.
Besides the actual problems people are having, it seems like people’s fears of future problems are going to be an issue for IoT adoption going forward. What’s more, 62% of respondents anticipate a growing number of problems as the IoT becomes more prominent in different areas of their lives.
On the road, people report they are afraid that digital performance failures will end up affecting their connected cars. Now that is even more disturbing. In fact, 85% say they are concerned that self-driving cars will malfunction, possibly leading to high-speed collisions.
Whether or not these fears are valid or not, this is what the industry is up against. As the automotive industry takes steps toward an autonomous-vehicle era, they’re going to need to contend with their customers’ fears.
People are afraid of what may happen if the performance issues they’ve experienced in their smartwatches and smart-home systems occur in their connected cars.
And this same sentiment is true for smart homes and, I assume by extension, smart buildings. Some 83% of people surveyed say they are concerned about “losing control” of their smart homes due to digital performance problems. Makes sense.
Nobody wants to worry about getting locked in or out of their smart homes or being unable to control lights or thermostats due to software glitches.
And in healthcare, too, performance issues are clearly a concern. Another 85% of respondents expressed concerns that performance problems with medical IoT devices could compromise their clinical data. These are all valid concerns, especially if people are experiencing an issue or more per day with connected devices they currently use.
In the enterprise realm, an issue (or more) per day is just unacceptable. Businesses want and, in many cases, need seamless user experiences.
For IoT technology providers, ensuring a positive user experience and a seamless performance day-in and day-out is really the only way to make it in this connected world.
For businesses that are relying on the IoT to keep tabs on their assets, a performance issue that takes down their sensors or other devices could cost a lot of money and create a lot of issues.
In verticals like healthcare, you really can’t mess around with iffy performance when you’re talking about administering medication or transmitting critical health data in realtime.
In transportation, too, when vehicles are making split-second decisions that could lead to a crash or avoid a crash, we really need to be confident that these machines will work as they’re intended to.
So what do we need to do to not only improve IoT performance but also to improve user confidence in these devices and systems? It’s a big question.
I believe as an industry need to be really meticulous and slightly cautious when bringing IoT devices and solutions to market.
We don’t need to take the go-to-market process down to a snail’s pace, but we do need to make sure we’re bringing solutions to market that have been thoroughly tested, and perhaps properly vetted, for not only performance, but also security.
I know, we can’t really vet out security, but we can do our due diligence, rather than just rush to bring a solution or product to market rather just to outpace the competition.
I also believe we need to keep talking about performance issues and security issues and sharing best practices with each other—even in cross-industry situations.
I strongly believe that the more communication within the industry, the better it will be for everyone in the long run.
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