What the Internet of Things Reveals About People

One of the inescapable realities of today’s technology is that what seems like science fiction one month or year is suddenly mainstream IT a few years later. Travel on the Wayback Machine to 2005 and it’s clear that smartphones were mostly dumbphones, clouds were still relegated to the sky and big data was anything more than what a DVD holds.

Moreover, the pace of change and disruption continues to accelerate. Today, CIOs and others who lead companies have to keep track of dozens of different emerging technologies, and there’s no indication which will survive, which will thrive and which will redefine entire industries, if not the world. Smart glasses and other wearables? Drones? 3D printing? The Internet of things?

The one thing that CIOs can bank on is that agile and flexible approaches are mandatory. Accenture says that the world is now entering the third era of digital. The first wave appeared in the mid 1990s with the web, the second wave introduced mobile in the mid 2000s, and the third is about living services.

Mark Curtis, chief client officer of Fjord, a division of Accenture, describes living services as the convergence of two primary things: the digitalization of everything and “liquid expectations.” Not surprisingly, the Internet of things is at the center of this trend. In this new order, doors, sprinkler systems, cars, billboards and even cereal boxes become data sources. When all of these data sources are combined and analyzed, a broader and deeper understanding of the world ensues.

Equally important: as individuals experience the amazing and rapidly unfolding world they transfer these expectations from one product, service or experience to another. “What this means is that if you want to deliver customers the best possible experience…it’s no longer good enough if you’re a bank to compete with other banks, or even an insurance company within a broader category of financial services. Now you have to be looking long and hard at what people are doing in different industries, such as taxi companies, travel, utilities and tech companies.”

It’s about understanding what it’s like to exit a taxi and pay through a smartphone using a thumbprint or zero touch system or how a device, such as an Ecobee or Nest thermostat, understands behavior, adjusts dynamically and provides clues about other behaviors.

Says Curtis: “It’s about competing for the mindshare of customers beyond a narrow, siloed category and seeing things within the context of everything a person does 24 hours a day.”

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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