The Internet of things (IoT) has been around for a long time now and has been deployed successfully in businesses all over the world. Supply chain logistics have improved dramatically, real-time feedback and analysis are now available to more people than ever before and maintenance costs have come down dramatically.
Take the example of John Deere that has started to equip its farm equipment with sensors that talk to each other, that monitor the running of the machines on their own and alert the farmer of any possible hitch that may be about to occur. They also do a real time analysis of the quality of conditions and determine how much fertilizer is needed for the farm.
Use any measure you can think of and IoT is an unqualified success that will continue to grow at a hectic pace. The same cannot be said in the consumer space though.
There have been companies that have found success, Nest, being the best example. It innovated in the thermostat hardware space and paired it with an easy to use application that people found easy to use. Tesla is doing the same thing with its cars that keep adding value for its customers through over the air updates and a well-designed application that helps make remote functioning easy.
Other car manufacturers are doing the same thing as are other appliance manufacturers. Unfortunately, there seems to be that one killer app that is missing from the equation.
Consumers did not mind using separate apps for their appliances a few years back because they only had a couple of ‘smart’ appliances in their homes. Now, though everything from the doorbell to the locks, ovens, fridges and even toasters are connected to the IoT.
Using a separate app for each means that users will lose their minds jumping from one to the other just to complete simple tasks. It also adds a layer of complexity to the whole operation that a lot of users will find it tough to navigate.
The answer to streamlining the IoT success for a consumer-facing business is that one app which will talk to all your appliances. Apple is trying to achieve that with HomeKit, Google is trying to achieve that with Google Home, Amazon is already trying to make it a reality with Alexa.
The industry has not come together in the consumer space like it did with the business facing solutions and thus faces a much more difficult task of making a comprehensive solution. As of now, each corporation is trying to lock the user into its walled garden, so if you have an Apple product you will be required to buy basically everything Apple-compatible to make it work seamlessly.
Google, the champion of open standards, is also being curiously coy about its Google Home project and has not revealed plans to open the SDK to third party developers. A part of the reason why companies are careful about opening up their products to the public could be the lack of a comprehensive security solution for IoT networks.
The other big reason could be the fact that companies are trying to win the IoT space all for themselves, not realizing that this approach of theirs is actually hampering the entire space. Hopefully, this will change as Amazon’s Alexa keeps on adding IoT partners.