Internet of Things (IoT) technology and devices have been changing the nature of user experiences for some time as consumers gradually adopt mobile app-driven technologies such as smart lighting, connected thermostats, home security systems and doorbell alarms. We expect this trend to accelerate into 2022, and perhaps even accelerate in the second half of 2023, in a way that offers consumers and business users more options for connected experiences that bridge the divide between the physical and of the digital world.
Why is this acceleration happening now and what does it mean for customer experience (CX)? The confluence of technology infrastructure upgrades, rising expectations of digital experiences, and the disappearing public perception of the physical-digital divide are all factors. Here’s what we’re seeing trending right now and what it means for brands.
The rollout of 5G in the US creates a better environment for connected devices
5G technology has been in the news lately due to delays in US rollout at some airports, but overall rollout is now moving forward after years of anticipation. People with 5G-enabled devices who live and work in areas with active 5G radio spectrum will have faster mobile and connected experiences.
Forrester predicts that as 5G coverage expands, investment in smart infrastructure will increase by 40% this year. This growth will include new investments in industrial emission control devices and utility management tools such as smart meters and smart thermostats that adjust customer settings to optimize comfort and energy savings based on weather and grid requirements, making the customer experience even more connected and seamless. These experiences, along with 5G-driven speed improvements, can drive the adoption of more IoT devices as consumers reap more benefits.
More customers will embrace connected experiences
In addition to better technology support for connected experiences, users will be more likely to embrace mobile IoT experiences as their attitudes evolve. Forrester predicts that this year, “roughly 80% of consumers will view the world as entirely digital, with no disconnect” between online and physical world experiences.
As people feel more comfortable with a unified digital-physical environment, we can expect greater adoption IoT devices and devices that are amplifying the merging of physical and digital, from homeowners adjusting their smart thermostat while on vacation to mobile push notifications alerting users when a load of laundry is tumble drying ground floor is finished.
On the B2B side, Industrial IoT (IIoT) device costs are expected to decrease. This allows more companies to adopt or enhance connected monitoring devices that report the real-time condition of manufacturing equipment, lighting and HVAC systems that adapt to building usage patterns, and product monitoring devices that are installed by manufacturers that monitor devices in the field to provide customers with information alert you when this unit requires preventive maintenance or repair. In each of these use cases, the devices can route alerts through mobile devices to operations managers, repair technicians, and other key workers, transforming the employee experience.
Further refinements to existing connected experiences
Smart home devices were one of the first consumer use cases IoT, but the proliferation of competing platforms has made it difficult for customers to find and use the best devices for their needs. Now these big tech brands are working together on a unified smart home standard that will break down connectivity barriers across brands. The goal is to make it easier for consumers to integrate their existing devices into one system and easily add more devices without worrying about compatibility.
Their new standard aims to allow users to control devices through the smart home mobile apps they already use, and even control the same smart home device with more than one app. When this new platform rolls out, perhaps as early as mid-year, it could give more consumers the confidence to count Connect IoT devices to their home networks or start using smart home devices.
A normalization of Mobile-IoT Connected Experiences
For many companies, this year is the time to explore new ways to let their customers interact with their product. For example, buying a vending machine used to be a hands-on experience. With connected vending machines, users can now pay on their mobile device and receive their product without having to touch the machine, handle currency, or insert their card into the machine. At some point this will be the new norm.
Due to improvements in technology and interoperability, as well as the increasing acceptance of connected experiences, 2022 could make great strides towards a world where IoT and connected experiences are viewed simply as things and experiences. The context of the IoT opens up a spectrum of possibilities to connect users to an eternal real-world system – a real-world analog of the online metaverse.
Even more interesting is the possibility that the trend towards connected experiences will continue to accelerate in late 2023. Then, Forrester predicts the end of the current chip shortage that will cap IoT growth by up to 15% this year. When the floodgates for chips finally open, we may see even more opportunities to create connected experiences and even greater demand for those experiences as customer and employee expectations evolve.
Michael Martin is Enterprise Architect for Capgemini America specialized in mobile development and implementation of solutions for various industries. He was the lead architect for many large e-commerce projects in the 2000-2010 era and has led solutions in the mobile ecosystem for the past 12 years.