Making IoT work

by | Apr 20, 2015

Making IoT work

In the last 15 years there has been an increasing interest in the so-called ‘Internet of Things.’ The expectation around this next iteration of the Internet reached a peak last year. So much that Gartner placed the IoT at the top of the hype cycle or the so-called ‘peak of inflated expectations’, last summer.

IoT peaking on the Gartner Hypecycle

Cisco, dubbing it as the Internet of Everything, calculated that there is a staggering $19 trillion ‘up for grabs.’ The key premise here is that if everything imaginable is connected and smart the level of value that can be created is 10x and maybe even 100x the current value.

Though everybody agrees that IoT provides a tremendous opportunity the break-out use cases didn’t present themselves, yet. At least not by the plethora of startups that are feeding the expectations and contributing to the hype.

There is one company, however, founded almost a century ago, that has captured the magic of IoT. It seemingly provides on the promise of IoT, such that Cliff Kuang writes:

“If you want to imagine how the world will look in just a few years, once our cell phones become the keepers of both our money and identity, skip Silicon Valley and book a ticket to Orlando.”

In an insightful Wired article Kuang describes Disney’s $1 billion bet on the Disney MagicBand. He elucidates the intricacies of the technological feat that Disney garnered during the development of the wristband. Never forgetting along the way it’s core objective: providing an amazing customer experience.

Here are a few factors that coporates and startups alike can learn from Disney and why IoT in this specific instance – the Disney MagicBand – works.

Respect the first rule: the rule of first interaction
At Disney you’re welcomed by a host as you would be welcomed when you would be visiting a friend’s party. Like your friend the Disney host, knows your name and welcomes you similarly. That experience is golden. Because it respects the rule of first interaction. Every interaction point – how seemingly insignificant – should be great enough to seduce the customer to engage in the subsequent interaction point(s).

Don’t forget that it’s all about emotion
Disney understands probably like no other that the customer journey is all about emotion. Even things that have a clear utility feature – like eating food for nutritional support for the body – are all about emotion. Therefore a guest says ‘it’s like magic’ when the foods finds her instead of the guest waiving and waiting for a waiter.

Make technology invisible
The MagicBand technology and the sensors in the park are made as invisible as possible. The objective is not to show off technological zeal, but to make the customer experience as frictionless and enjoyable as possible. Again, it’s not about the technology, but about the experience. The average customer is not interested in how something works, but that it works.

“Customer journey is all about emotion”

Think in systems if you’re building systems
By it’s very nature the IoT needs system thinking and only proves it’s full potential in seamlessly connecting the nuts and bolts of a system. Disney did exactly so by turning the park into ‘a giant computer streaming real-time data about where guests are, what they’re doing, and what they want’, as Kuang points out. Thus enabling it to provide enhanced – magical – experiences.

Technology is a means to an end, the end is zero friction
At Disney the focus was not on doing ‘something’ with IoT, because ‘it’s the future.’ The focus was instead on reducing friction for customers at every single touch point. Upon the inception of the project Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney World Resort in 2008, told her team ‘to root out all the friction within the Disney World experience.’

Prototype the whole experience, not just the prototype
Not only the MagicBand, but the whole experience was prototyped enabling Disney’s board to understand and feel how it would effect the customer user experience in its entirety, its grand implications and why it was worth a staggering $1 billion in investment.

One of the key reasons for Elon Musk’s success in building great companies is his method of thinking from first principles. For service industries thinking from first principles entails taking the transaction or ‘the job to be done’ as the unit of analysis. The core objective is then to provide (near) zero friction at the granular and systems level. If you do that and succeed in it, than indeed magic will happen.

Do you want to talk with our IoT expert? Contact Gerald!

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