We’ve seen various reports estimating how many billion connected devices will exist in 5 years time. Cisco has it at 50 billion, Gartner has it at 25. Whatever the exact figure, growth is going to be dramatic.
What will this explosion of processors, sensors and smart devices mean for consumers and designers? Broadly speaking, that there will be an eye-watering amount of information being collected and sent as our toasters, kettles, cars and keys seek to learn from us and adapt to our behaviour.
However, by simply focusing on the amount of data and devices available we’re overlooking the most important piece of technology in the connected landscape – the mobile phone.
My toaster and kettle will talk to each other, but they’ll mostly be talking about me
So far I’ve seen very little attention being paid to the role of mobile in the Internet of Things (IoT), which seems bizarre given that the success of IoT products is driven by the accessibility and relevance of the data they gather and transmit.
These devices gain part of their intelligence, and in turn their value, from my commands; so where and how this conversation takes place will have a huge influence on the experience I have with my appliances.
I’ve been involved in the digital marketing industry for over 20 years and have seen mobile emerge from a marketing strategy add-on into a primary customer channel.
A ‘mobile-first’ approach to design is becoming industry standard and this makes sense. Customers expect a consistent and context-driven brand experience across all digital channels and mobile is at the centre of this.
Now fast-forward five years. Your mobile functions as your car key, your alarm system, wallet and notification centre. It is the means of controlling the products you use every day and the lens through which you see the brands you buy. It will be the gateway to your home, your social life, your finances and your retail experience. In order to win in the IoT era, brands must master their relationship with mobile.
Mobilising the C-suite
Smart brands recognise that if the digital products and services they offer their customers aren’t optimised for that specific screen, at that moment in time, then their market share is up for grabs. But the importance of mobile today pales in comparison when you consider the role it will play as the IoT expands.
At present, businesses see mobile as a component of their marketing communication strategies. However, as the channel’s influence on our product relationships and brand perception continues to grow, mobile will move to the centre of brand, product and marketing strategy.
In a future where the success and failure of some businesses hinges on the quality of their mobile experience, chief executives are going to be far more interested in how their companies manifest on mobile. It will be the individual who understands this space that has the ear of the CEO and who makes things happen in the business.
Mobile interactions have been re-shaping our experience of the physical world for the last 10 years. Screen-based applications give us directions; allow us to transfer money, board planes and keep us in constant communication with a global social network. This device is an integral part of our daily lives.
But as we move towards a future of smarter phones, faster connectivity and billions of wireless sensors, our lives are going to become even more dependent on the mini computers in our back pockets.