The hype around the Internet of Things was on full display over the last six weeks, with announcements and events from vendors such as ARM, Cisco, GE, IBM, Intel, PTC, and others. Much of the hype has focused on the possibility of saving lots of money because of all the new information that can help improve utilization and maintenance of expensive business assets. But in this age of the customer, where customer engagement rules, a focus only on cost savings is misplaced. When we look forward to 2015 and developments around the Internet of Things (IoT), we are predicting four key trends and implications for clients. Here are two of those predictions:
IoT customer success stories will displace “billions of devices” hype. Enough already with the Carl Sagan–like references to billions and billions of devices — we’ll finally see a focus on customer success stories about improved machine uptime, better customer experience, and new as-a-service business models.
IoT software platforms will become the rage, displacing the hardware. Much of the early hype has been about cool new sensors, high-tech wearables, and new wireless technologies. In 2015, we’ll see increased focus on the software and especially the cloud services to make all these sensors connect, upload data, and drive analytics that generate insights and enable business improvements.
At the leading edge of every employee-led workplace technology revolution is usually a handful of motivated people who are constantly experimenting with tools and technologies to improve their work. In the early ‘90s, millions mastered the venerable PC and especially Microsoft Excel - partly because for the first time they could quickly collect and process thousands of data points, present it in ways that they could make sense of it, and make better decisions faster. The result: they could work in new ways that were previously impossible, and they could be more productive and valuable for their employers. In short, these employees were the leaders and innovators in their organizations.
In 2014, these engaged employees' time and energy is going toward finding tools that will help them stay productive as they become more mobile, and their work and personal lives continue to blend. For example: Desktop computer usage as a percentage of the work day is declining, and for at least one hour each work day, 13% of global information workers now use a tablet for work - primarily so they can get work done from home. Forrester believes that investments in mobility technology will increase through 2015 and beyond.
Forrester has been analyzing device adoption since the launch of its Consumer Technographics® studies in 1997. Over the years, it has become evident that although demographics and attitudes influence technology adoption, these elements alone do not predict consumer behavior – subtle factors like context and psychological needs must be taken into account to piece together the technology adoption prediction puzzle. This is because of two essential contradictions that exist between:
What consumers say they will do and what they actually do: The concept of introspection illusion reveals the discrepancy between stated intent and subsequent behavior. Consumers are bad predictors of their own technology adoption patterns and are often conservative when estimating their own device usage.
What consumers say they want and what they really want: As Steve Jobs famously put it, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” And even then, consumers might not recognize the benefits of the product – needs are transient, circumstantial, and often conflicting.
Today Salesforce.com offered a formal update on its Salesforce Wear offering (which I wrote about at its release here). Salesforce Wear is a set of developer tools and reference applications that allows enterprises to create applications for an array of wearable devices and link them to Salesforce1, a cloud based platform that connects customers with apps and devices.
Salesforce’s entry into the wearables space has been both bold and well-timed. Salesforce Wear constitutes a first mover in the wearables platform space; while Android Wear offers a platform, it only reaches Android Wear based devices – unlike Salesforce Wear, which operates across a wide array of wearable devices. While it’s early to market, it’s not too early: Enterprises in a wide array of verticals are leveraging wearables worn by employees or by customers to redesign their processes and customer experiences, as I have written.
What lies ahead for the retail store? Yesterday, Forrester published a report that predicts the answers to key questions about the future of the retail store: Which digital technologies currently on the periphery of the store environment will make the leap to the sales floor? How will retailers know which technologies have potential and which will remain gimmicks?
In the report, we outline the utility and predicted chronology of several technologies, including:
Proximity technologies. Retailers will know when and where an associate is needed, by whom, and for what purpose.
Wearable technologies. Associates will access the relevant data to provide optimum customer service with minimum intrusion.
Facial scanning technologies. Retailers will know their in-store customers’ histories, preferences, intentions, and needs and will cater the store experience to them.
Smart countertops. Retailers will embrace consumers’ propensity to do product research while shopping in-store and enhance the utility and experience at the same time.
3D printing. Retailers will make the inventory they need on-site or once it’s been purchased.
For more on Forrester’s take on the usefulness of these and other technologies, and to see our predictions of when we’ll see them enter the retail store, see the report (client access required).
Which technologies do you think will realistically make it into retail stores of the future?
Too many wearables today have screens that look like miniaturized smartphones.
Just as smartphones shouldn’t be PC screens shrunk down to a 4-5” screen, smartwatches shouldn’t look like smartphones shrunk to 1”. Nor is it a matter of responsive web design (RWD), which resizes web content to fit the screen.
Samsung's Gear 2 looks like a tiny smartphone screen.
Instead, it’s a different type of design philosophy – one with DNA in the mobile revolution, and then extending mobile thinking even further.
Let’s start with the concept of mobile moments. As my colleagues write in The Mobile Mind Shift, mobile moments are those points in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context. In the case of wearables, the wearer often won’t need to pull out a device – it’s affixed to her wrist, clothing, or eyeglasses. But she might need to lift her wrist, as a visitor to Disney World must do with MagicBand.
Now we’re getting closer to what wearables should be. But there are additional dimensions to wearables that obviate the need for pixel-dense screens:
Wearables are opening up exciting new scenarios for consumers and enterprise users alike, but the wider conversation on wearables has taken a privacy-oriented turn. The New York Timesand WIRED, among others, have covered the emerging privacy concerns associated with wearable devices.
Particular ire has developed against Google Glass. An online activist group, Stop the Cyborgs, opposes Google Glass and related wearables, which the organization says will "normalize ubiquitous surveillance." Stop the Cyborgs offers downloads of anti-Glass graphics for posting in public places and online to spread the message that wearables are inherent privacy violators.
In a major new Forrester report, we present data and insights to help Infrastructure & Operations professionals who are piloting or planning to trial wearables navigate the privacy waters. As a teaser, here are some of our findings:
One of my first mobile moments this morning was a text from my husband on WeChat announcing that he had a Lark sleep quality rating of 9.4. We’ve become competitive sleepers. The Lark is a wearable device worn on the wrist at night to track the quality (e.g., number of times awake) and length of sleep. Activating the device requires you to set an alarm (and lets me know how few hours I have to sleep). The device wakes you by vibrating on your wrist. Disarming it in the morning includes journaling information on how you feel and what occurred that may have helped you to sleep well or disrupted your sleep.
While I love this device, in April Lark announced it will discontinue making hardware, but support existing units. It’s retained hardware staff to continue to understand how to make the most of data collected from sensors on the phones. Similarly, Nike didn’t announce it was discontinuing the FuelBand, but there were rumors it had laid off its hardware team.
Why these shifts?
These devices and apps are creating mobile moments by sharing basic data, a concept outlined in our new book, The Mobile Mind Shift. But, the excitement of reaching milestones of 5,000 or 10,000 steps a day or shifting your sleep behavior quickly fades once consumers have a sense of what it takes to reach these goals. In fact, overtime data can even demotivate individuals.
In order to change consumer behavior in the long-term, these wearables must offer effective engagement mechanisms that create relevant mobile moments that change over time with consumer needs. To succeed requires:
On June 10, Salesforce.com announced Salesforce Wear, a bundle of free tools and reference applications aimed at evangelizing the power of enterprise wearables. The offering supports six different wearable devices, each with its own open-source reference application to help developers design and build wearable apps that connect to the Salesforce1 platform.
Salesforce Wear has the potential to turbo-charge the growing market for enterprise wearables. Enterprises using Salesforce Wear will gain tools and reference applications that immediately apply to six wearable devices: three smart watches (Pebble, Samsung Gear, and Android Wear), plus Google Glass, the Myo armband, and Bionym’s Nymi authentication device.
Some of the reference applications are pure enterprise/B2B workforce enablement applications, like the Google Glass application for oil rigs, which can be generalized to other field service scenarios (and which, conceptually, I have written about before). Salesforce Wear’s app facilitates real-time field actions by providing schematics of the equipment being serviced, offering a view into the full service history of the equipment, and connecting field workers to colleagues for real-time collaboration. All in all, the reference app helps field workers fix problems more quickly and effectively.
Salesforce Wear's Casino Reference Application with the Bionym Nymi Band. Source: Salesforce
The Infrastructure and Operations (I&O) role is changing significantly: I&O pros are increasingly helping to drive business strategies with the technologies they choose and implement. Business leaders tell Forrester that technology is too important to leave to technology managers alone; they are pushing their I&O colleagues to explore the business value associated with the technologies they choose, implement, and manage. I&O pros, in turn, tell us that their jobs are changing. As one I&O pro put it, “I’ve been an infrastructure manager for 15 years, but only in the past 3 have I been asked to construct a business plan and be part of the business planning team.”
Figure: Burberry's Technology-Powered Flagship Store In London
For I&O pros in retail and related verticals like hospitality (or for anyone involved in creating in-person experiences), we’ve just released a report to help aid this transition. Along with my co-author Michele Pelino, we’ve just released the report “Infrastructure Will Drive The Retail Store Experiences Of The Future.” The report asserts that I&O pros have an important role to play in helping their companies engage shoppers in experiences that will drive loyalty and spending.