Connected devices and connected systems

Before you throw your toys out of the pram and shout "rubbish!" let me qualify that – a connected device has little value without a connected system behind it. In this world of hype and buzzwords it is often the highly visible device that is the focus of attention; we are often approached and asked if this device or that widget can be made into a connected device. The answer that follows is of course 'connected to what?' A connected device on its own is as useful as a chocolate fireguard, it has to not only connect to something but be part of a complete connected ecosystem - a connected system offering a complete digital service.

It's all about the experience

Ultimately it is the service experience that will retain the loyalty of the customer. A year ago I bought a sports watch to help me track my progress in preparing for a 10k race. Now, a year down the line, I use the related app on my phone and tablet, I check my stats on the related website and I've become an invested part of the community. I've bought into the service. On day-one I bought the watch because I liked it, but in the long term it is the service that retains me.

The device really is the tip of the iceberg, and if you start by only thinking about adding connectivity to a device you need to step back and take a wider view, ultimately you are creating that complete service experience. The device, algorithms, UI, app, comms, servers, analytics and more all contribute to the overall service. Each of these elements breaks down further into many specialist disciplines, and how well these diverse elements fit together will largely determine the effectiveness of the overall offering.

See and need, fill a need

So where do you start? Well how about the end user, the consumer. They are the ones buying the 'experience'. Understanding the needs of the user shapes everything from the look, the operation and the form of the information they receive. Creating a product design or service design that sells well and continues to delight the consumer requires a truly integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to translate the requirements into an effective and desirable outcome. Needless to say, that doesn't happen by accident, you'll need to create a collaborative team with consultants, designers and engineers under one roof who together will translate user insights into concepts that are tested and developed into products and services that really meet consumer expectations.

Of course, our device will be connected, and yes, it will need an outstanding radio interface. This will of course be wrapped in a beautiful design, and offer an exceptional service experience. But that's what you really wanted all along wasn't it?

Dave Gladwin
Technical Marketing Specialist

Dave is a physicist by education, an experienced software developer who now specialises in technical marketing for industrial and consumer products.