IoT devices of all types – from smart speakers and smart locks to fitness wearables, thermostats, and home security systems – are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s market, but releasing products like these comes with a specific set of obstacles. In particular, it’s crucial to address three very important challenges that face IoT products as they fight to remain competitive in a high-stakes market. Here’s a breakdown of those unique obstacles, and a look at how Customer Validation (CV) helps you tackle them for increased product success.
Higher Customer Expectations
In the past, the kind of sophisticated technology we now see in homes all over the world was mostly owned by a niche community of tech enthusiasts. With the complete integration of complex devices like smartphones into our everyday lives, today’s market for IoT products has changed dramatically. Unlike the hobbyists of yesterday who tinkered with gadgets for fun, today’s users are less tech-savvy, less patient, and more likely to return a product that doesn’t function the way they expect it to.
More Competition in Fewer Channels
Today’s tech products also encounter more scrutiny, and more competition, than ever before. Dissatisfied users voice their complaints via easily accessible and heavily trafficked outlets, like Amazon and social media, where bad reviews tend to catch like wildfire. These outlets are even more powerful when you consider that even when buying in a brick-and-mortar store, chances are that customers have first checked sites like Amazon for peer reviews and pricing.
As the saying goes, “You only get one chance at a first impression.” There’s a lot riding on a successful launch. It’s easy for buggy or missing features, a clunky interface, or other usability issues to kill your product’s momentum, and allow competitors the opportunity to fill in the gaps with their own solutions.
Complex Technology Ecosystems
No IoT product functions in a silo. When a customer brings your product home, they bring it into a diverse technological ecosystem, where many connected devices must work together. It’s important that your product functions well in these highly interconnected, real-world environments – not only with devices that customers already own, but also any devices they bring home in the future.
The pressure is on to provide your customers with a seamless user experience, but with the sheer number and range of connected devices in the average home, ensuring interoperability across the board is difficult to say the least.
The Role of Customer Validation in the IoT Industry
It’s clear that product experience is essential to product success. Companies put their new devices through the wringer in QA and usability labs to try and combat these challenges, but it’s impossible to thoroughly iron out the usability, satisfaction, and long-term functionality issues that determine product success in a lab environment. There are simply too many variables to consider.
That’s where Customer Validation comes in. The only way to get an authentic and holistic look at how your product performs in natural, everyday environments before launch is to place it in the hands of real customers and ask them to use it in their actual homes, cars, and workplaces. Customer Validation uses Alpha, Beta, and Field Testing to do just that.
CV provides insight into how well your products work with the devices your customers actually own – not just the ones you think they own. It uncovers bugs and critical errors that hinder the customer experience, and enable engineers to repair unexpected bugs or feature gaps before your customers have a chance to be disappointed with them. It also reveals how your target market interacts with your product out in the real world, over multiple instances. It provides an understanding of which features they like the most, and which functions were easy or difficult to use, which helps your marketing team understand which product features to emphasize, and provides content to use for positive peer reviews.
These are just some of the ways that Customer Validation helps IoT products contend with increasing customer expectations, higher competition in fewer channels, and complex technology ecosystems to remain competitive. To learn more about the role of CV in the IoT industry and specifically, how to leverage it to overcome the challenges facing today’s IoT products, meet with us at CEDIA 2018!