Where are the people in the Internet of Things?

Over a series of upcoming blogs we will explore what is currently driving and defining the “Internet of Things” (IoT) movement.

The IoT will connect people, devices, data and processes over the Internet. Everything from our farms to fridges, coal mines to cars, could start collecting data, adapting to our behaviours, and so much more.

But what does this mean?

The defining characteristic of the IoT is that nearly every physical object in this world can be augmented with computing sensors and technology, WiFi, and a unique IP address.

These devices can collect and share data and be interacted with over the Internet. They are individual and also part of a greater whole. The greater whole being the various connections of people-to-people (P2P), machine-to-people (M2P), and machine-to-machine (M2M).

Designing for people in the IoT

The IoT is a very broad subject. It’s also in its infancy. People, companies, organisations, industries and governments are all trying things out to see what works. The general consensus is that the IoT will happen, and that it will have a big impact, but it’s not entirely clear how.

We believe that user-centered design (UCD) and service design will be key in the IoT. They are complementary, cross-disciplinary practices. They focus on designing for the users of devices and systems, the customers of services, and the actors behind every touchpoint.

In that regard they will be necessary when designing IoT devices, systems and processes; defining the data that should be collected and shared; and crafting the experiences that tie it all together.

The driving force behind the IoT

In recent years there have been some healthy economic predictions. Cisco, for example, believes that over a 10-year period there will be $14.4 trillion net profit up for grabs by private-sector companies and industries around the world.

They break this down into 5 categories:

  • Asset utilization: $2.5 trillion
  • Employee productivity: $2.5 trillion
  • Supply chain and logistics efficiencies: $2.7 trillion
  • Innovation, including reduced time to market: $3.0 trillion
  • Customer experience: $3.7 trillion

Significantly, customer experience is the biggest slice of the pie, and if you want a piece you’ll need to put the customer – the users and the ‘people’ – right at centre stage.
Cisco shares this sentiment. They believe that the bottom line of the IoT economy is:

“…enabling people to be more productive and effective, make better decisions, and enjoy a better quality of life.”

Or, to put that another way: monetary incentives may be the driving force behind the IoT but in order to reap the rewards it will be essential to consider the people at its heart.

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About Bunnyfoot

We are psychologists, interaction and design experts, researchers, usability specialists. We cover Web, software, mobile, print, service design and more.
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