Why and When to Build an App for the Internet of Things
If someone asked you how many things in your household are connected to the internet 10 years ago, your answer would have been completely different.
The Internet of Things has been a topic to talk about in the past couple of years. Recently we included IoT as one of the app development trends to watch out for in 2015. However, many are still finding it hard to put their finger on the term, and more importantly, enterprises and developers alike are finding it hard to decide whether or not to invest in this trend. The short answer is that it depends. Just like any other business decision, investing in development for IoT needs to make sense for your company. Here are a couple of points you should consider when going through this decision process:
Identify your opportunity
Just as if you were about to execute a business idea for the first time, identify your business opportunity in “the Network of Everything”. What can you leverage from connecting everyday objects? In Amazon’s case, the Dash Button’s purpose is to make it easier for users to purchase any item on their growing list of brands and products. Forget about turning on your computer or even logging into Amazon through your phone. The purchase is literally a click away. For brands, this was an opportunity of a lifetime. They get to have “shelf space” in your very home. Would IoT bring more business to your company, or would it be redundant?
Analysts predict that by 2020, there will be over 26 billion connected “things”. This is 30 times over the number of devices in 2009 according to Gartner. In other words, if you do decide to go forth with an IoT strategy, you’ll have room for exponential growth.
Understand how things work before building an app
Most connected devices are controlled from a mobile application. If we return to Amazon’s Dash Button as an example, users have a mobile app on their phones that allows them to review or cancel orders, view receipts, and more. Before building the app, you must understand how the device in question works. Also, how will this device be connected? Through sensors, WiFi, or any other piece of electronic?
New sets of analytics to understand user behavior
Perhaps you want to know more about user behavior. Typical analytics let us know how many users have downloaded our app, how many of them are active, where they came from, and more. However, with IoT, analytics might be a bit different. Learning how to interpret this new data greatly depends on the former point: understand how things work before connecting them to your network. Say you have built an app that controls your household appliances. What does it mean if most of your user base’s coffeemakers were turned on during the evenings? You might have a group of late night owls adopting your app. In other words, these new sets of data will be the key to understand user behavior, and new business opportunities.
A more connected environment may or may not make sense for your company’s objectives. However, asking the right questions will give you the right answer.