Why Companies and Customers Are Still Skeptical of IoT

Aaron Perillat | June 20, 2017

If you’ve had even a passing brush with media in the past six months, you’ve probably encountered promotions for IoT (Internet of Things) products. Some of the planet’s largest tech companies have launched major campaigns around IoT consumer devices such as voice-activated home assistants. Meanwhile, the long-promised reality of self-driving cars feels closer than ever.

Entering the IoT space seems like a great way for businesses to future-proof their long-term strategies, as the connected device market is on pace to expand significantly. By 2020, up to 30 billion things will be connected to the internet and span a range of industries from manufacturing to healthcare to retail. In fact, 75% of companies are exploring the IoT space, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Still, there remains a fair amount of skepticism about the technology from both companies and consumers, says guest speaker Nate Fleming, a Forrester Research analyst, in our recent webinar, “Mapping IoT Product Requirements.”

To get a feel for the space, Forrester spoke with dozens of IoT businesses, traditional product companies rolling out IoT initiatives, software vendors, and services firms helping clients with IoT. Based on the findings—which were included in the Forrester report, “The Internet Of Things Propels Product Development Into The Digital Era,” and discussed during our webinar— we wanted to outline some of the areas that were still giving customers and companies reason for pause over IoT adoption.

Consumer Privacy Concerns about IoT

On the consumer side, millions have purchased connected devices and satisfaction with them remains very high. Certain actions that once sounded like science fiction — such as someone monitoring his or her heart rate with a smart watch — have become commonplace.

Current IoT challenges hindering more widespread adoption seem mostly tied to privacy concerns. Media reports, for instance, have detailed some of the security vulnerabilities of various IoT devices. And there are also questions about data collection by IoT products, which the Federal Trade Commission recently addressed on the grounds of consumer protection. Plus, since the whole concept of things like a smart home are being decided in real time, there’s some debate about what it’s all going to look like in the end.

The fact that IoT is a relatively new phenomenon means we’re still many years away from the technology reaching a maturation point. As companies implement new security safeguards and provide transparent communication on data collection, consumers will likely gain more confidence in these areas. For instance, when Apple recently announced the HomePod — a combination smart speaker and home assistant — the tech giant made it clear that any collected data from voice commands would be anonymized and encrypted.

Obstacles for Implementation of IoT in Business

Alternately, businesses that are hesitant to enter the IoT space have a whole different set of apprehensions. For one, some see integrating IoT into traditional products as a risky move. That’s understandable, since IoT involves a sizable investment of time and capital into product and team advancement.

We recently detailed some significant barriers for IoT development that companies must overcome before they can achieve success in the space. The good news is that the biggest hurdles to a winning IoT development strategy can all be conquered with some organizational adjustments, such as upgrading team collaboration tools and rethinking requirements management.

These changes shouldn’t be understated, as they represent major cultural and organizational shifts that need to happen if a company wants to make a winning transition to IoT initiatives. And, considering the anxiety many businesses feel from even introducing new internal tools or platforms for their teams, undertaking such a big switch on the product side will naturally be daunting.

The Future of IoT Development is Now

With that said, if IoT implementation feels like too big of a gamble for a company, it should consider the alternative. Given the pace at which IoT innovations are progressing, a business that either refuses to recognize the opportunity, or moves too slowly to get itself up to speed, will end up falling behind and running the risk of being completely disrupted.

That’s why businesses migrating to IoT initiatives must be equally aggressive and smart. Those that are too eager to add IoT to their products, without fully realizing how they’ll use the opportunity to solve their customers’ problems, are prone to failure.

Instead, it’s a good idea to first get a handle on why you’re integrating IoT. Then, think about how you’ll put the data you get in return to good use on future product iterations. Once that critical balance is struck, companies can join the IoT revolution in earnest, and enjoy all the transformations and rewards it brings.

To hear stories about traditional product companies that have successfully integrated IoT, and where the technology is ultimately heading, check out our on-demand webinar with guest speaker Nate Fleming, a Forrester Research analyst, and Jama Software CEO Scott Roth, Mapping IoT Product Requirements.”