This week something somewhat seminal happened for us in the Internet of Things around expectations. Coke announced it was experimenting with a connected soda can. When we interview people to join our team and explain our business, we’ll point to a soda can in front of them and say “someday maybe even that can will talk to the Internet”. It’s been kind of a half-joke we use. It’s also been a test to see if candidates “get it” and can instantly think of why anyone would want such a thing.
Interestingly, most over the age of 40 just think it is a joke and we’re being facetious. 30-40 year olds are a mix of doubtful, intrigued or open minded. However, 20-30 year olds just look across the table at us and nod their heads with a look that just says of course. These buyers view smart and connected products increasingly as a minimum requirement. To them, its part of the fabric of the future.
What does this mean for your business? It means possibly 25% or more of your buyers are at risk over the next 10 years if you track that group out into their thirties and forties.
Now think about your product lifecycle. Does it take you one year to design and distribute a new product or version? Two? Three? Four?
Companies with longer product development lifecycles are at particular risk of having IoT expectations threaten their business. If your product lifecycle is four years, you have only a couple of chances to introduce a smart product, especially if you assume you’ll spend 6 months to a year gathering feedback on the last product launched. This dynamic has led to us mapping our own customer and sales prospects on an “IoT adaption” curve. Put simply, how many chances will any given product or service provider have to introduce something connected, new and amazing before revenue starts to leak away to competitors and substitutes? If you are a fast-moving product company, you have time to experiment and get things right. If you are slower moving, either due to culture or the complexity of your product, you have fewer chances to figure it out and prepare for the post-2020 world.