How many products do you have in your house that connect to the Internet? Let's ignore your phone, because of course it does. How about lights? Solar panels? Doors? Appliances? Cameras? Gaming consoles?
I'll stop before this post becomes little more than a giant list of "smart devices."
Research tells us that in 2020, the average American had ten different devices in their home.
It's no surprise that we all have at least a few devices that can and do connect to the Internet. What's surprising is that most of us—and most businesses, too—don't include the "IoT" as part of digital transformation.
They should because digitizing products is absolutely a part of the business journey.
Many today confine their view of digital transformation to IT and marketing. Glitzy websites and mobile apps. Automated service desks and chat bots. Automation. Orchestration. The public cloud. These are all commonly associated with digital transformation.
Less commonly mentioned is the application that manages my dishwasher, and the application to operate the dosing pump I use to keep my reef tank healthy. Both are examples of digitized products. Some are dependent on digitization to operate. For example, while I can operate my dishwasher just fine without technology, that isn’t true for my dosing pump. The pump is a headless device. Technically, it’s not very smart at all because an application is the only way to operate it. My lights can turn on and off without an application, but to enjoy the full range of its capabilities (and color) requires one.
Digital transformation is a business journey. That journey includes more than a refreshed, modernized website with people and bots ready to chat with me. It's a transformation of products, too.
That transformation results in at least one, and more often two, applications. I have yet to meet a "smart device" that didn't come with an accompanying mobile app and a web application.
The implication for business is digital transformation is broadening the base for what is covered under "digital experience."
My experience with an application to get a smart device working is likely more critical than how friendly and navigable your website may be. If the process to get my new device working is too clunky or cumbersome, I may simply not use it. If it asks me to perform too many steps, or find the manual I put away months ago, I may delete it. If it frustrates me— and is a requirement to operate the device—I will certainly let others know about how poor an experience I had with the product.
It doesn't matter if the product itself is excellent. If my experience with the application is poor, the product quality and capabilities don't matter. In a smart, digital world, customer experience extends to the product because the product has become an experience.
Digitizing business means digitizing everything from processes to products. That means the digital experience extends well beyond IT and marketing to the applications required to operate the product itself.
The Internet of Things has always been the business of applications. It's only now that digitization is speeding toward mass adoption that providers are beginning to realize it.
Based on my experiences with some digital products, some businesses have yet to figure that out.