The internet of things was a key trend at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. Devices from slow cookers to normal household objects featured internet connectivity, all with the desire to have smart objects collect analytics about household usage, and them optimise their use.
While the trend has certainly gotten off the ground during the past few years, it’s now set to receive a massive boost – Google has announced it will buy Nest, which makes smart devices including a thermostat, for $US3.2 billion.
Nest, which was founded by the original designer of the iPod, Tony Fadell, has made waves for its smart thermostat which detects user activity in the home in which it is installed, and then adjusts the temperature accordingly in order to save money. The company’s second product, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, is designed to interact with the thermostat. The company has said it will eventually add new products to this ecosystem so the devices all work together.
With such a huge investment behind the trend, the internet of things is clearly entering a new phase of growth. The devices consumers buy including smartphones, but also everyday household items, will increasingly be designed to work together.
But the change won’t just affect products. Consumers will grow to expect a seamless experience between hardware and data – between experience and feedback. With smart devices eventually being capable of detecting movement and optimising the home to save electricity and other resources, consumers will naturally grow to expect that service in all areas of commerce.
As digital enterprise continues to grow, it won’t just be enough to offer a product, or even analytics. With the internet of things continuing to expand, consumers will expect digital businesses – of all sizes – to provide them information that will help their experiences – without even trying. Whether that be a website or anything else.
Those businesses putting in the hard effort now will be able to get ahead – and win consumers over to their side.
Group buying grows up
The group buying industry has certainly experienced some dramatic highs and lows. After a boom in 2010, the industry has gone through a significant amount of problems, with many businesses not performing as well as expected. However, industry performance has stabilised as the industry continues to offer deals customers actually want.
This is partly due to the way these businesses are changing how they offer products. Groupon has just announced its plan to acquire Ideeli, a flash fashion retailer, for $US43 million. The decision comes after several other acquisitions on behalf of Groupon, as part of a problem to move into new areas and categories. With apparel being one of the most popular ecommerce categories on the internet, acquiring a flash fashion site certainly makes sense on the face of it.
However, the move also shows just how much the group buying market has changed. Larger businesses in the sector once worked on a model of simply offering discounts and coupons, but quickly found this wasn’t sustainable. Instead, businesses such as LivingSocial and Groupon have had to transform by bolting on aspects of traditional retail.
Now, these businesses appear to be leaning towards the appearance of a department store rather than a market for discounts.
The shift says as much about consumers as it does the individual businesses. While there is a clear desire for group buying and a marketplace for discounts, customers want more than just the ability to save some money. They want a one-stop shopping experience – something all digital enterprises need to keep in mind.