The Internet of Things is on the verge of explosion. Digital devices have been growing year after year; but with the advent of IoT, this growth has become exponential. The latest McKinsey Global Institute has reported that IoT has the potential to drive $11.1 trillion per year in economic value by 2025.
However, are users often getting sidelined in this clamor for IoT?
IoT is a challenging and time intensive space to be in; but with the focus going away from user experiences, one might end up feeling disconnected, having created only connected products and nothing more. Perhaps it’s time to let technology take a backseat and shower some attention on user experience, and how it will be a key driver to business success.
Internet of Things are…well, just things
What do you pay attention to as an organization? Connected devices or the humongous amount of data flowing through these devices? IDC reports that the data volume will continue to double every two months; hence, it is high time that companies begin to make sense of the plethora of data from sensors that is becoming increasingly challenging for the user to process and make decisions.
Enterprises should focus more on bringing Internet of things together with machine learning and predictive analytics to build smart apps for dynamic and personalized user experiences.
Smart apps bring innovation to digital enterprises by providing:
Proactive interaction with users: Smart apps focus on eradicating user issues, even before they appear. They forecast results based on ‘anticipation’ and derive actionable insights before the user comes across a certain issue.
Intelligence above and beyond: User insights and predictions are obtained through machine learning, AI and analytics.
Contextual data: Smart apps are personalized and act based on user’s location, date, time, weather, etc. This data is embedded in user’s systems and is available on multiple devices.
The UX factor: Design User Experiences with smart devices
The Internet of Things requires innovative, out of the box design. But most importantly, it should cover all aspects of an enhanced User Experience (UX).
Several factors contribute to the overall UX of the IoT system; and this can vary from business design to service and industrial product design. The design gets even more complex and challenging when the number of systems and users radically increase. We will discuss here some of the important elements that designers should pay attention to while building IoT products.
It’s practically impossible to have a stable internet connection for any application all the time. So while designing an IoT device, the plausibility of the product being operational under poor internet connection or working offline must be considered. While there are several connectivity options available like WiFi, Ethernet, etc., choosing the right connectivity for each use case is critical.
Data storage needs to be taken care of primarily. For example, in autonomous vehicles, minimal data loss and low-latency is important while in some other solutions like solar production monitoring, it is less significant. These factors must be considered while choosing the right connectivity technology and the UX must be prepared to face inevitable network outage issues.
Multi-device, multi-functional, yet holistic view
Internet of Things are a multitude of devices handling abundant data types over a single network. It is crucial for a UX designer to bring in the different sources of data under a single user interface that will indirectly impact the user experience while using IoT devices. Improved interoperability and usability will be the differentiating factor for the future of IoT in day to day lives.
Compatibility of hardware over time
Whenever Internet of Things are designed for making the life of users easier, the hardware used within the devices should be considered with the scope of growth and compatibility. For example, if computers were designed without an additional RAM port to increase the processing of data, over the passage of time, users would have considered buying computers as an expensive commodity. This means while designing the UX of IoT, hardware should be keenly considered to understand the scope of growth for users with time.
Easy and Secured Updates
Security is the biggest challenge faced by IoT besides interoperability. While designing IoT devices, the UX designer should make sure that such devices are easily updated and secured. This will not only improve the user experience but also provide an additional layer of security while using these devices. API’s are a must as they are closely linked with IoT devices and securely expose them to users in your IT infrastructure. Many of the common IoT related challenges are addressed and solved at the API layer. Designers hence should focus on making API secure, scalable and interoperable.
Internet of Things (IoT) is a three-dimensional world with new challenges and solutions. While designing IoT products, businesses should overcome the obstacles and unify them into a holistic user experience, allowing them to work in harmony. Instead of visioning IoT as a source of business transformation, it should be seen as a medium for improved user experience. If your digital transformation strategy is in place with IoT, it is always better to get started with the user first and technology second approach for fruitful results.