How Convenience and Interoperability Hurt Consumer IoT Adoption

By Grayson Kemper

Connected devices are devices with the ability to connect with each other using internet networks.

Celebrated by tech experts and hobbyists, these technologies and devices – products such as an Apple Watch, smart locks, and virtual reality headsets – preview what the future of consumer technology will look like.

However, connected devices have not yet been wholly embraced by consumers.

One reason IoT devices haven’t achieved widespread success is because they are not yet convenient enough that people use them to their full potential. Specifically, people who own IoT devices do not use them as part of broader networks.

Instead, consumers buy and use connected devices to accomplish singular tasks, such as using a smartwatch to only measure the time or check their heart rate.

To convince consumers to embrace the full connected potential of IoT-enabled devices, product and IoT application developers need to understand consumer sentiment about these devices.

With this knowledge, they can determine the most effective ways to market these devices as points in a connected ecosystem that consumers can use to make their lives more convenient.

Cost Is Not The Biggest Obstacle to Consumer IoT Adoption

One reason people haven’t yet adopted smart devices is their cost. However, the cost of IoT devices does not tell the whole story about why people are hesitant to embrace these technologies.

For example, smart appliances such as smart refrigerators and smart washing machines can be cost-prohibitive. However, it isn’t necessarily connected functionalities that make these devices expensive: appliances are expensive on their own.

In addition, people are willing to spend money on devices and technologies they really want. iPhones now retail at over $1,000 per unit, and they are flying off the shelves.

Instead of cost, two of the most significant barriers to widespread consumer adoption of IoT devices are:

  1. Convenience of connected devices
  2. Interoperability between IoT devices

IoT Devices Aren’t Yet Convenient for Users

IoT devices, when used to their connected potential, seamlessly communicate instructions and data between one other.

For example, you can use a smartwatch to determine the contents of your smart refrigerator, set the temperature of your house on a Nest thermometer, and lock your car.

To achieve this level interoperability, though, there needs to be compatibility between those different devices and technologies.

Often, however, this is not the case. Because the market for IoT devices is still relatively young, there are multiple manufacturers and product developers that are vying for market positioning.

This means that each develops their products with unique infrastructures that aren’t necessarily designed to sync with one other.

This creates challenges for consumers, who often have to hire an IoT developer to create custom solutions if they want to connect devices from different product developers. This process requires customers to devote a significant amount of time and often money to ensure connectivity between their devices.

Another reason that IoT devices aren’t yet convenient for consumers is that some devices occupy a strange limbo between manual use and automation.

Smart ovens are a good illustration of this dynamic:  While smart ovens can be remotely controlled from another device, it is still necessary for people to physically put in and remove food from, regardless of whether its temperature is controlled from another device.

For both of these reasons – lack of interoperability and quasi-automation –  IoT devices are not totally convenient for consumers. As a result, instead of dealing with the hassle or cost of connecting multiple devices, they often use connected devices to accomplish singular or less complex tasks.

Developers Can Increase Consumer Engagement With IoT Devices Through Education

Developers of IoT devices and technologies can make an impact on the popularity of connected devices among consumers and whether they use them in a networked capacity.

If IoT development companies and manufacturers can effectively inform consumers how to reap the full benefits of connected devices, they can create market demand for their products.

One approach to achieving this goal is for them to educate clients and consumers about the benefits of using connected devices in a networked capacity.

A few methods they can use to do this include:

  1. Webinars: Host webinars to discuss how customers can easily configure and sync devices to each other
  2. Advertising: IoT development companies can market themselves as experts in creating networked solutions
  3. Training: Offer training to clients about how to use devices together

Through informative customer engagement strategies, developers can communicate the value of using multiple connected devices together.

One point IoT developers should include on in their engagement strategies is the amount of control consumers can have over their day-to-day activities using connected devices.

For example, by telling users that they can access all of their other connected device using the same platform or device (for example, a smartwatch), developers can work to convince people to invest in multiple devices.

Consumers Can  Provide a Solution to Interoperability Challenges

Educational marketing efforts with customers, of course, don’t solve the problem of interoperability between some IoT devices.

However, teaching consumers opens an opportunity for them to get involved in a solution.

If consumers are aware of the problems with IoT connectivity, they can communicate these issues directly to developers and manufacturers. This puts pressure on product developers to

develop devices and technology that consumers can easily connect to one another.

More Connectivity Between IoT Devices Leads to Increased Consumer Benefits

Consumers would directly benefit from more uniform standards among connected devices: The more devices people can connect and control through IoT devices, the more they can structure their life to their convenience and liking.

If someone prefers the temperature to always be 68 degrees, they can make that happen using IoT connectivity without the cost currently associated with keeping the air conditioning on all day long – they can custom set their surroundings to their preferred temperature only when they are there.

The same benefits apply across all devices with connected functionalities: from televisions to vacuum cleaners and vehicles.

The challenge is bringing together the interests between IoT developers, manufacturers, and consumers.

© 2015 | Kristina Sherk Photography |

Author Bio: Grayson Kemper is a senior content developer and marketer for Clutch and a senior writer for The Manifest. He specializes in SEO and Emerging Technologies research.

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