Smart Connected Product Design: What Works & Why

We know that smart connected products are here to stay, but for those in the business of design, the challenge we now face is designing for the future of IoT. In our most recent webinar, Smart Connected Product Design: What Works & Why we had leaders from Allegion, Salesforce and our very own Altitude speak to what it means to design for a smart connected world.

What is a smart connected world? It’s the burgeouning space where, “the Internet of Things is reshaping every industry and resetting our expectations,” as panelist Tom Burchard, VP of Experience Design at Altitude says. In other words, the smart connected world is coming, in fact it’s here, the real challenge is how is your company going to rise to this challenge? As Antonio Figueiredo, Global Director of Emerging Industries & Technologies at Salesforce said, “IoT is revolutionizing (just) about everything…from wearable devices to automation to home appliances to medicine.”

In short, no matter what industry you are in, B2C or B2B, a smart connected world is coming your way. The key then, is to be ready to design for the challenges that the IoT world is going to create, no matter what business you’re in. With IoT, every day life is changing for businesses and consumers. Are you ready?

Building for IoT

Step one in prepping your business for the invasion of IoT.

Don’t be just focused on the technology. I know, this seems counter intuitive right? But our panelist agreed, without a doubt that you should not be infatuated with the technology, instead, as Rob Marten, Allegion’s Futurist and VP of Strategy and Partnership says,

“Be infatuated with what the technology can do for you within the space your company is in. This means focusing on the use case and value to the consumer over time. And by doing this it forces you through a process of technology assessment and design assessment…”

Being able to have a clear understanding of the use case scenarios and the ways in which you can bring value to your consumer will help to create the ultimate smart connected product for your sector. Rob stressed how important this has been for Schlage (an Allegion brand).

How IoT is Transforming Design

Our panelists moved the discussion from how to prep your business for the age of smart connected products to the ways it will fundamentally shift businesses. As Rob points out,  “You’re establishing a longterm relationship with your consumer. You’re no longer just selling a product.” And when it comes to design, it’s no longer about designing a beautiful product, but designing a meaningful customer experience.

Those products and experience, should “…fit naturally into our lives” as Tom says.“Take products that we are already familiar with and give them new meaning, new value, and wrap new experiences around those.” Those new experience are what will help to cement relationships with your customers.”

Products in the IoT space now have a longer life. That’s great for the consumer, but for those on the design side it means building in the capacity for new technologies and interfaces. At Allegion, they are a huge advocate for open architecture solutions that integrate well and provide incremental benefit overtime. Designing a mature IoT product is vital to your business success, and as Rob notes, “People are sensitive to built-in obsolescence especially in a smart world.”

What Design in the IoT World Should Look LIke

It is important to “design pervasive products that fit naturally into our lives” as Tom explained. “Take products that we are already familiar with and give them new meaning, new value and wrap new experiences around those.

Schlage is a good example of this where locks used to give people a sense of security and keep people out of your house. Now with smart connected, the relationship is different. You can choose who can come into your house and when. With IoT products, Schlage now needs to fit into the consumer’s lives better in a way they are earning their consumer’s trust and respect.”

Rob said that an IoT designer needs to ensure a more personalized  experience happens in order to boost the consumer experience.

And when it comes to designing for IoT products, our panelists agreed that personalization is going to be paramount when it comes to standing out in a saturated field where consumers EXPECT a great experience.

Having the right data offers the opportunity to not only transform the consumer experience, but provide businesses with essential information that can help provide them with competitive advantages. In thinking about the business advantages, Rob of Allegion notes,

“And building automation at scale with smart connected can help you deliver a more personalized experience over time. And the key is to have the experience be shared beyond the product so the data reaches factories and other areas of the company who can use it to continue to improve the user experience by removing the friction for consumers and improving the real productivity so your executives are happier about the ROI.”

Antonio of Salesforce notes that data and data collection are the key to designing successful products in the IoT space, though he cautions that companies must,

“…think about what data we want to collect. There also has to be a reciprocity with the consumer. Why do I have the right to get that information? And what am I giving back as value to the consumer for providing the data.”

Product designs in the IoT space need to not only be ready to integrate data, but they need to have the technological capabilities to grow with the innovations of tomorrow.

Ultimately, our panelist noted that shifting consumer values is a slow process. As Tom says,

“So while the world is changing, companies need to think about building their business around the things that are not changing and that people value. Our values change very slowly. We need to deploy the technology to deliver on the value and not become enamoured with the technology.”

And so while technology is a central part of designing smart connected products, we cannot forget the consumer in the design process. Antonio continues on to say,

“When you buy a smart connected device, the core feature/function still needs to be there. Do not get distracted by this connected benefit because at the end of the day it still needs to work” so the consumer has the most delightful, seamless experience.

Curious about learning more about designing for smart connected products (or IoT ), check out our full hangout webinar “Smart Connected Product Design: What Works & Why” or catch it on Soundcloud.

Gretchen Hoffman

Posted By: 

Gretchen Hoffman

VP Marketing