The other day a friend and I were talking about smart watches, more specifically how neither of us had any interest in buying one. It wasn’t that we didn’t think they were cool, and I’ve got to admit this Metal Gear Solid theme for the Moto 360 makes my inner nerd far too happy, but the fact is we couldn’t see any real benefits to having one.

Now thats my kind of Smart Watch - Image from FaceRepo

Now thats my kind of Smart Watch – Image from FaceRepo

This got me thinking about what makes a successful B2B M2M app or a successful B2C IoT app, then I realized, it’s the same thing… Control! 

It’s easy to get swept up in the wave of hype surrounding connected devices both in the more business centric M2M space and the consumer facing IoT space; but a lot of companies are committing one of sales & marketing’s cardinal sins, selling on features and not benefits.

While a lot of customers will come for something cool, new or different they will stay for long-term benefits.

If you look at any of the more successful connected devices the one underlying factor that links them all is an element of control, or in some cases a false sense of control.

What do I mean by false control? Consumer IoT applications are great examples of this. How many of you have tried a fitness tracker? I’d say a decent amount of people have at least experimented with one, and now a lot of people have them sitting in a drawer. Fitness trackers have a great deal of hype but it’s safe to say they aren’t the revolution most people were hoping for. These trackers sell you on the illusion of being able to control your weight and health but in reality they don’t do anything that a pencil and a pedometer won’t do. They’re the technology equivalent of that gym membership you keep meaning to use.

Now I’m not saying fitness trackers are a spectacular failure and people don’t get results, what I’m saying is that people buy them because it appeals to our need for control, it’s not a magic bullet. People who use them to routinely monitor their exercise will get results, but just like any weight loss program you need to commit and you need to take action.

The Pacif-i from Blue Maestro - Image from Anthony Domanico/CNET

The Pacif-i from Blue Maestro – Image from Anthony Domanico/CNET

Another more recent example from CES is the Pacif-i from Blue Maestro, for those of you not up on your baby wearables, the Pacif-i is a Bluetooth enabled pacifier that primarily acts as a way to stream your baby’s temperature to your phone but also acts as a local area child monitor. I think the application is solid in theory but in practicality again it doesn’t offer much more than a thermometer and a piece of paper.

The idea of being able to proactively monitor your childs temperature is great but I can see it causing more stress than anything else, as parents are inundated with data they don’t know how to properly process.

I applaud any company that is trying to make a break into consumer IoT applications as it’s certainly as the market is a lot less defined and the customer base is certainly much more sporadic in their definition of control.

Now let’s look at where more tangible control is apparent – B2B M2M 

Unlike consumer products where the outcome of control is dependent on the individual (weight, health, comfort, finances, enjoyment, etc) there is really a single driving factor in B2B M2M – Control of cost.

From a connectivity point of view the biggest factor to our customers is being able to control their bill, and in relation their ability to charge customers. We stop “bill shock” by providing our customers with real-time data usage, plans that automatically suspend or group with each other and alerts through our control centre. This enables them to accurately forecast their M2M fleet costs for months even years in advance.

M2M Devices and applications are constantly evolving; devices that once served a single purpose are now expanding to offer a world of information thanks to more advanced sensors and higher bandwidth networks.

Digital Vending Machines in Japan - Photo from Engadget

Digital Vending Machines in Japan – Photo from Engadget

A vending machine monitoring system may have once measured stock levels and informed the manager when a machine needed to be refilled. Now the whole machine can be connected to not only measure stock, but also measure machine health, internal temperature, foot traffic and even push new advertising content. These functions independently have little correlation to each other, but as a whole are all an important part of controlling cost.

Let’s finish off by taking a look at possibly the most well known of M2M applications, vehicle telematics. The truly successful companies in this space have evolved from providing traditional “dots on a map” style tracking to offering a full suite of business intelligence around the efficient operation of vehicles. By providing data on vehicle routes, wear and tear, driving style, fuel efficiency and much more companies that once claimed to be in the “vehicle tracking industry” now find themselves in the world of data analytics, all driven by the need for control.

So whether you are starting to build a new application, or you’re an established business don’t look at what features you can add to your product; Look at what your customers want to control and how you can offer the best possible experience for their investment – You’ll be glad you did.

James Mack
General Manager – M2M One

The views and opinions expressed in this blog site are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of M2M One or M2M Group.

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