In his talk “The Future is not an Internet-connected Egg Box,” Alex Jones of Fjord highlighted one of the major gaps in thinking about the internet of things. We shouldn’t link every device to the internet just because we can. Instead, the act of connecting must add value to the experience of using the product. The human layer of the interaction is where meaning and value is added. We don’t need to hook up our egg box to the internet. We need to make connected products mean something to the people using them. In the white paper Product Relationship Management, Evrythng CEO Andy Hobsbawn sets out a clear and compelling vision of how to make that happen.
“It’s time for our physical products to be as clever as Google, as immediate as Twitter, as informative as Wikipedia, as social as Facebook, as useful as Evernote, as personal as Amazon, and as entertaining as YouTube.”
Sounds ambitious, right? The necessary infrastructure is already in place: with Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G broadband, it’s never been easier to get connected. The technological tipping point is already here, and the key is smartphones. These high-powered take it everywhere devices have become our “remote control for the world.” Smartphones provide direct access to the web so that our connected things don’t have to. Simple low-cost tags make connecting physical products to a digital profile as easy as scanning a QR code or tapping on an NFC tag.
That profile becomes the gateway through which the user can access personalised content, digital services and apps related to the product. For example, your smart guitar could connect you with online tutorials, the best deals on peripherals like strings or straps, or networks of local musicians who want to jam with you.
“In other words, combine a product with the intelligence of a smartphone and it becomes connected. It becomes aware of what it is, where it is, and what time it is. It knows when the weather changes, when a goal has been scored in the Premier League, or what films are showing locally. It can find you the best information for assembly or repair, get you an insurance quote, or tell you the best price you could get from selling it second-hand right now.”
As a result, the physical product can be re-imagined as a channel for a range of direct digital services, personalized experiences and ongoing relationships with each individual customer. The customer gets a richer experience using the products they own, and the product maker knows more about how the product is used, and so what services the customer wants. Everybody wins.
“Product Relationship Management™ is a powerful value exchange. Product users can access relevant, valuable digital services to help them get more out of the things they own. Product makers know who is buying their goods, and can build direct relationships with end-consumers based on how the product is used in their daily lives.”
Product Relationship Management lays out a clear and compelling vision of how to make connected products meaningful for both the customer and for the product makers. Alex Jones says that connected devices need to add value and meaning. Andy Hobsbawm has explained how that might work. There’s all this, and much more, in the the white paper. It also explores how different kinds of products present opportunities for different types of applications of Product Relationship Management. And of course, connectivity isn’t just about how the customer interacts with a range of products, but also about how those products interact with each other – and that’s covered too.
You can download the white paper here. Highly recommended.
I have no affiliation whatsoever with EVRYTHNG, although as you can probably tell I think they are an awesome company who are doing really exciting things. Last month, I went to an excellent talk on the Internet of Things (write-up here) by their CTO Dom Guinard. I was so impressed that I’ve been keeping an eye on the company ever since. A post from their Google Plus feed led me to an article written by Evrythng CEO Andy Hobsbawn that appeared in Hall and Partners publication Matters. (Also available on Issu.) I downloaded the white paper that the article was based on, and these are my thoughts on it. All images, text, etc. extracted from the report are owned by Evrythng. Download the white paper here. You know you want to.