Stay Savvy: Two Ways to Avoid Spending on “Shiny” IoT

Jordan Smythe on September 1, 2016

Every day, more and more connected devices are hitting the marketplace and slowly working their way into our lives. This massive wave of availability, and the marketing that’s pushing it, is making it harder and harder for consumers, and businesses alike, to figure out which devices or connected technologies might actually improve or change their lives. The sad reality is that most fall short because we didn’t look past how shiny they were.

So, how do we judge what devices, and technologies, will work FOR us in this IoT crazed world? Well, that is a question I have been trying to take a crack at answering, and it was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. As a developer working in a fast-paced software company, I learned that I knew a lot less than I thought I did.

As most consumers do, I started things off with the tried and true method of picking something cool that I thought would improve my life - a FitBit. I wanted to start getting in better shape, so I thought ‘what better way to do that then to have something track all my fitness and tell me about it?’ I won’t lie, I wrapped that bad boy around my wrist, got that heart rate monitor going, and thought it was pretty cool…

However, it became clear, very quickly, that I had made a mistake in buying this type of device. Now, the problem had nothing to do with FitBit - I think they do a great job. The device was great at doing what it was designed for, the problem was that it was not designed for me.

I sit at a desk most of the day, go home, sit a while longer, then do 45 minutes to 1 hour of workout, eat (while sitting some more), and then I go to bed. Right off the bat, I was never meeting my fitness goals because I found FitBit was best used to track overall fitness, not a short workout every other day with no other activity.

This realization helped me move on with my journey and discover what I now believe to be the tried and tested, two most important things to think about when purchasing a new connected device or technology:

  1. Does this device fit into your lifestyle and will it provide increased value to what you already do? Many people are drawn to a new idea of a perfect world where a new device or new technology will transform the way they do things. While this can be a realistic expectation; the device will only do so much. In business, the same goes. New technology CAN transform the way you do business, but it needs to make sense for existing infrastructure and it needs to have some proven value for companies (or people), like you.
  1. If you didn’t say yes to question one, are the features provided by the new device good enough to make you change your lifestyle and how you normally go about your day? If the new device or technology does not fit into your current life of business strategy, is it worth the overhaul to accommodate it? Now, you may be thinking that this question is a no brainer, but businesses, and consumers alike, encounter these types of predicaments quite often. Maybe you are looking for a customer engagement solution, yet, you find another company who offers X, Y, and Z, you just have to completely redesign your website to make it work. However, it is most important to remember your initial goal. What is the reason you started looking for a device or a technology in the first place? Have the options you’re exploring now veered from that path in a valuable way? If not, then continue shopping. Or, you may end up like me, with a FitBit that just doesn’t fit.

These questions have been guiding me in my ever increasing desire to make my life as easy as possible, and have served me well. They have also saved me a lot of money. Now, I won’t say this is a catch all for bad decisions - and what won’t work for you - but I hope that my experiences can help you create your own strategies for connecting your world where it will make the most sense.