As the Internet of Things continues to develop, smart technology is becoming increasingly integrated and the race to fully converge smart devices is heating up. However, with established technology manufacturers competing against smaller, yet more agile, counterparts, who will win convergence 4.0?
With more and more smart devices appearing in the home, you might think consumers would welcome convergence. In reality, many consumers are currently turned off by the idea due to the difficulties they face when configuring and setting up smart devices. For the average person, configuring multiple devices can seem daunting and like it may require some engineering know-how, deterring consumers from buying new devices or attempting to integrate them. Difficulties with configuring, discovering and controlling devices are among the biggest pain points for consumers of smart devices and is something that needs to be considered in relation to convergence.
It is vital for the end users that convergence and configuration is a frictionless and simple process. Users require intuitive devices which are capable of automatically recognising new devices and help the user to configure them. However, many of the key players within the industry are yet to offer devices capable of this. Should manufacturers, and the bigger market challengers such as Amazon and Google, want to attract audiences, the need for end-to-end solutions which simplify the process of migration to the smart home for the end user need to be considered. For example, devices should offer simplistic, voice-based processes to increase ease of use.
In addition to this, the winner of convergence 4.0 will produce devices which are capable of ‘learning’ set skills. These devices need to not only be intuitive in recognising other devices but must also intuit what a user requires when they perform certain commands. For example, ultimate convergence will come when users are able to ask their device to enter ‘movie mode’, for instance, and the device will not only play a movie, but will also draw the curtains and dim the lights.
While there are a handful of manufacturers most of us will associate with smart home technology, many paid TV operators and telecommunication companies are turning their backs on these devices, thus creating space for some of the smaller brands to rise to the top. Solutions developed with telcos and paid TV operators in mind also allow them to have more autonomy in their approach to the market, rather than following the trends as dictated by large manufacturers. This is a key issue in convergence as with paid TV operators on side, the smaller manufacturers have the potential to tap into different insights and develop new capabilities.
The battle to win convergence 4.0 also goes hand in hand with the fight for the voice-assistant market. As many smart devices make use of voice-control, the two issues are intrinsically linked. Their popularity and their ease of use show that this technology should be a key feature for the future of convergence.
It is fair to say that convergence is currently driven primarily by the market as a pre-emptive strike to anticipate the needs of consumers. Consumer demand is yet to catch up with this due to the difficulties associated with configuring devices. As such, the real winner of convergence 4.0 will be the company that can make it as easy and seamless as possible to integrate these devices into the home.