The Internet of Things (IoT) – which represents a great opportunity for component makers and OEMs in the electronics market – has implications for the millions of users of IoT applications. Purchasing, I’d imagine, is one of those applications.
When I look at purchasing issues, I break them into two separate groups: my issues as a consumer and issues relating to B2B procurement. Of course there are differences, but there are similarities as well. One similarity I’ve noticed is the level of data or input buyers can receive about the purchases they make. The IoT is only going to increase that data, and that’s what concerns me.
As a consumer, I already get updates and alerts from the sites I buy from (Amazon.com, for example); my bank; my credit card issuer; LifeLock; utility providers that accept online transactions; and various spammers ( a personal favorite: “Your Appel Account has Been Hacked!!!!).
On the B2B side, I’ve purchased various items and services for our business. I’ve had very mixed experiences with these ranging from being totally ignored to alerts every time an item has reached an interim shipping destination. For the most part, I deal with them based on the urgency of the item or service.
Which brings me to the IoT. On the consumer side, let’s say I want my home security, HVAC, appliances and car all linked. Controlling many of these things from my smartphone seems like a good idea -- as long as it is a one-way street. If I ask my AC what its temperature is, I expect it to answer. But what if it alerts me every time it drops above or below a certain level? Yes, I know I can set those levels, but my thermostat isn’t the most sensitive device in the entire world. I’ll need a new thermostat for the IoT at the very least.
Now, assuming all of my electronics devices are on the IoT, what kind of alerts can I expect? Break-ins—that’s a biggie. Definitely want to know that. Cable-movie orders? Maybe. Out-of-milk alerts? Not so much. My point is, all of this incoming data is going to muck up my messaging and/or e-mail and I’ll probably jump every time I get pinged assuming my house is one fire. Call it the Pavlov’s homeowners’ response.
On the B2B side, I think most of the alerts would be important: online security breaches; failures to ship; price changes; ECOs, etc. Depending on how many vendors a business partners with, you could get one update on a BOM or 100 updates on every line item. (I know there are ways to control this.)
At any rate, I’m wondering if electronics buyers need or want more data, and if it matters where it comes from. I find social media, for example, pretty subjective. What is awful for someone might be great for someone else. I also realize that the only time I register an opinion on social media is when I am really ticked off at somebody. I’m not as consistent with my praise. So I generally discount social media as a primary source of business information.
But when something is out of stock, doesn’t ship, is determined to be a counterfeit, or changes price, those are all things that affect business decisions. Most of these communications currently come though protected networks so they are by default priorities. And social media comes in handy when one of your vendor’s plants in on fire and normal communications are unavailable because of a power outage.
A lot of pundits are extolling the virtues of an all-connected world and how it will make lives so much easier. I’m sure it will. But I also foresee a deluge of alerts and information that have to be sifted through to determine how quickly action has to be taken. So buyers: on the B2B side, what is your experience with your vendors? Do you get too much input; not enough; or just enough? How do you communicate with them mostly? And how useful is the information you acquire?