With CES 2017 behind us, I wanted to take some time to reflect on some of the big trends that came out of this year’s show. Though hectic, walking around the show floor was both inspiring and motivating, as the products and technologies on display pushed boundaries and are helping to fuel innovation across countless industries. As it relates to the internet of things, I observed a number of key trends. Here are a few of my favorites:
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IoT is dead?
Not exactly. IoT is more alive than ever with more connected products and connected product companies than ever before. However, as we predicted for 2017, the term IoT is being used less, and in place of it people are speaking more about “connected products.” In fact, the term “internet of things” was not used much at all at CES 2017, a major change from last year. Why is this the case? Now that IoT is maturing, people and companies are placing more thought into why they are making these connected products. Becoming an “IoT company” is no longer the goal; now companies strive to evolve their traditional products into connected products in order to better satisfy the needs of their customers. This is a great thing, because it shows companies are becoming less focused on the glamour of connected products and more on the potential business value they can provide.
An example of this was a new product by family care company Avent. It announced a new digital parenting platform that goes beyond the traditional baby monitor, and includes a connected heart rate monitor, humidifier and digital thermometer to provide parents and healthcare professionals with more information and more personalized guidance. It is owned by technology company Philips, its goal is not to become a connected product company. It is focusing on creating products that make parenting a little bit easier — connected or otherwise.
Sustainable business model or bust
It’s 2017, and consumers are not captivated by the ability to connect a product anymore. As technology advances at a rapid pace, and when customer experience is more important than ever, if your product does not have a sustainable business model beyond connection, it’s a recipe for failure.
A great example of a company with a sustainable business model is Heatworks. In 2014, Heatworks debuted a connected tankless water heater, and while it is not the first company to offer a tankless water heater, consumers were excited. Why? Because Heatworks developed a business model capitalizing on the added value that connectivity provides. With its product, consumers can manage water temperature for different fixtures throughout the home. For example, sinks and showers can be set at a reasonable temperature to ensure anti-scalding, while the dishwasher can be set at a considerably higher degree.
Ease of use is king
As I noted above, this year has brought more connected products to the market than ever before, and this was evident at CES 2017. There were thousands of connected product manufacturers exhibiting at this year’s CES, but which ones will take off and which will fizzle?
In an increasingly busy marketplace, the products that will succeed are the ones that will provide a good core value beyond connectivity. While having a wealth of features can be helpful, what really matters is the features people will use every day. The Genican was another connected product making its debut this year. What I loved about this one was the simplicity. It attaches to your garbage can, and when you throw something out you can scan a barcode and it automatically adds that item to your shopping list. It does not have a ton of flash or features, but is something many of us would love to use. At the end of the day, connected products that make day-to-day tasks easier, more accessible or more effective for consumers will win out over simply “cool” products.
This year’s CES was once again an incredible event, and an important one for the internet of things. While the connected product space remains crowded, more and more companies are finding ways to differentiate themselves and create greater business value from their products — and that is exciting to see. Seeing so many companies, both new and established, bring IoT innovations to their booths was inspiring, and I cannot wait to see what these companies develop throughout the year, and bring to Las Vegas in 2018.
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