On numerous occasions over the past 30 years, business end-users and executives have become aware of new technological innovations as a result of their personal experiences acquiring various consumer products and services.
In each of these cases, their consumer experiences have led them to pursue similar technologies in their corporate environments. The same adoption pattern is about to repeat itself in the rapidly expanding world of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The first major example of this technology adoption pattern occurred thirty years ago with the emergence of the personal computer. Despite the famous quote of Digital Equipment Corporation’s (DEC) founder and CEO, Ken Olson, that “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home,” the PC became incredibly popular and quickly found a home in the workplace.
The Web gained acceptance among consumers in the 1990s, long before it became successful as a Web 2.0, business-to-business (B2B) tool. Today’s most popular Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and other corporate oriented Cloud services have succeeded by emulating the ease-of-use and other user interface attributes perfected in the consumer web.
Two years ago, I suggested in this space that the consumerization of cloud analytics was helping to fuel corporate demand for a new generation of business intelligence (BI) solutions aimed at overcoming the escalating challenges of Big Data.
In each of these eras, winning the hearts and minds of consumers has proven to be a powerful and successful go-to-market strategy for a variety of established and emerging players. And in today’s even more free-flowing atmosphere, the ability of technology vendors to convert consumer adoption into commercial deployments is being put to the test again.
The most obvious example is the embryonic battle brewing between Apple and Google to win control over the home. The two titans are jockeying for position to make their respective smartphones the centerpiece of a new smart-home environment that includes remote controlled heating, lighting, entertainment and other features.
Since Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs, the potential benefits of a connected home are no longer viewed as science fiction. More importantly, the practical application of these ideas is quickly educating consumers about how they can employ similar technologies to better manage their corporate offices and commercial facilities.
Popular ‘wearables’ aimed at casual athletes also have commercial counterparts in the healthcare arena. Consumer products, like Fitbit, which monitor our personal activity are inspiring a new generation of more sophisticated monitors that can capture data regarding more serious health issues, like heart arrhythmias and other vital signs.
A similar crossover from the consumer to the commercial sector is taking place in the world of the connected vehicle. Every automobile manufacturer is adding sensors and software to their new model cars to create a new set of features and services. Tesla and Google have received the most attention, but the major car companies aren’t far behind. Commercial truck manufacturers, like Daimler Trucks North America, are also embedding IoT technologies into their commercial trucks to provide enhanced services to their corporate customers.
In both the auto and trucking vehicles, as in other industries, the IoT technologies are being used to reduce risks, improve efficiency and create new methods to build closer customer relationships and added revenue streams.
In each of these cases, consumer-oriented IoT experience is enlightening potential corporate customers about the virtues of the IoT idea and how it can be applied to the commercial world.
Jeff Kaplan is Managing Director of THINKstrategies (www.thinkstrategies.com), an independent consulting firm focused on the business implications of the on-demand services movement. He is also the founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace (www.cloudshowplace.com), and the host of the Connected Cloud Summit (http://cloudsummits.com/event/connected-cloud/) focused on the IoT marketplace, September 18 in Boston. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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