The Internet of Things is at risk of becoming a victim of its own popularity
Today, the IoT market is generating $200 billion in revenue, a number expected to triple in the next 10 years. But a rush to market by developers of consumer IoT products and services has been accompanied by shortcuts in design, particularly in information security, usability and branding. Several embarrassing and highly public data breaches have left buyers increasingly wary of embracing smart technology, slowing market adoption for products both good and otherwise.These early market failures must be corrected, and quickly, if the IoT is to reach its full potential. Soon, up to a trillion items in everyday will become “smart” devices, allowing them to send and receive data over the global Internet. Machine-to-machine applications will help seniors age in their own homes and make possible truly autonomous vehicles. For manufacturing, agriculture and energy, among other verticals, IoT technology promises vast improvements in supply chain efficiency and sustainability.
Consumer surveys over the last few years, however, reveal slower-than-expected adoption of IoT solutions. Stories of hacked baby monitors and connected toys, video cameras taken over by botnets and fitness trackers revealing the locations of secured military installations, coupled with a lack of clear user value propositions, have generated skepticism that IoT applications are really ready for mass markets or, indeed, if they ever will be.
“Big bang disruption” demands new marketing strategies
These marketing problems are a side-effect of what I have termed “big bang disruption,” where disruptive innovations, following a short period of failed market experiments, achieve wide-scale adoption quickly – sometimes in a matter of weeks. Today’s disruptors have replaced the classic bell-shaped model of adoption famously described by Everett Rogers with a distorted curve that resembles, appropriately enough, a shark fin. While adoption followed five fairly predictable stages (see figure 1) in the old economy, the adoption of digital products has shrunk to two stages and is happening much faster. Sometimes the rise and fall happen within weeks only – as happened with Pokémon Go in summer 2016.