The Promise of the IoT

By: Phil Simon| - Leave a comment

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A few weeks ago, I finally moved into my new home in Arizona. Although I was tempted. I didn’t go crazy selecting features for my house. (The motorized shade for the 20-feet of glass was too cool to pass up.) To be sure, I certainly could have opted for any number of smart appliances.

While setting up my Wi-Fi network, I noticed that that I could connect my thermostat via an app for my iPhone. (Cool, I thought, and I didn’t buy a Nest.) After noodling with my settings for 30 minutes, I still couldn’t get my network to recognize my thermostat. A bit miffed, I called the manufacturer’s 1-800 number.

After navigating the phone queue, I spent 10 minutes on hold before I could diagnose the problem with a technical rep. Let’s just say that things didn’t go smoothly. Nearly an hour later, I hung up the phone in frustration at our inability to achieve our goal.

The Early IoT Verdict: Frustration Fused with Promise

Things should not be this hard. Like coffeemakers, it seems to me that thermostats shouldn’t be allowed to break.

That interaction summed up my own experiences with the nascent Internet of Things (IoT). (A few years ago, Bluetooth issues confounded my first foray into smartbulbs.) Despite these setbacks, I’m a big believer in the IoT for several reasons.

First, on a personal level, I’ve seen some of these devices actually, you know, work. Case in point: I stayed at an AirBNB in Austin, TX last year and didn’t need a key to enter my temporary abode. A smartlock and code obviated made the very idea of a key seem so 20th century.

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Second, let’s just say that I’m not new to the tech world. There’s always a learning curve; things never smoothly at first. Along these lines, I remember the fledgling days of the Web, search, and e-mail. I can vividly recall search results completely unrelated to my queries in 1996. I can cite many examples of webpages not rendering properly in Mosaic, if at all. And don’t get me started on the difficulty of configuring early e-mail clients, especially when search results left more than a little to be desired.

Simon Says: We’re getting there.

It’s evident to me that connecting to different IoT devices is getting easier but, at least at present, it’s hardly easy. Big difference. Remember that few people want to come home from work and tinker with settings and call tech support. If the unprecedented success of Apple has taught us anything, it’s that many if not most of us just want things to work. Period.

I suspect that, as we head towards that lofty goal with the IoT, it will start to reach its vast promise.

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About The Author

Phil Simon

Professor at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business

Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker and recognized technology authority. He is the award-winning author of eight management books, most recently Analytics: The Agile Way. He consults organizations on matters related to communications, strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have been featured on The Harvard Business Review, CNN, Wired, NBC, CNBC, Inc. Magazine, BusinessWeek, The Huffington Post, Quartz, The New York Times, Fox News, and many other sites.

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