Consumers losing patience with poor IoT experience, says Dynatrace

For all the talk of ‘improving the user experience’ that we come across in our smart home research, it’s still not surprising to hear how the majority of consumers feel about their IoT gadgets. According to a 10,000-person survey, carried out by software firm Dynatrace, some 64% of IoT device users have already encountered performance issues.

On the one hand, it’s encouraging that apparently 52% of consumers are now apparently using IoT devices, although we think that might be quite a widely cast net, in terms of its definition. However, the flip side is that 64% of that group had run into a problem. According to Dynatrace’s survey, this works out to 1.5 digital performance problems each day, with 62% apparently expecting the growth of the IoT to increase the frequency of these problems.

Dynatrace warns that organizations that are deploying IoT services or devices should see that they need to master rising IoT complexity and roll out appropriate monitoring systems. That first need can, according to the firm, be addressed using improving cloud technologies and microservices, while the second requires more careful planning.

The company’s digital performance expert, Dave Anderson, said “consumers are already reporting problems with everything from medical applications, smart meters, car door locks and virtual personal assistants, to smart thermostats and fridges. Their patience is at an all-time low and they simply won’t tolerate a poor experience. Yet, we haven’t even seen the era of IoT take off to its full potential – it’s just getting started. The imperative is on companies to find ways to process, analyze and manage the IoT delivery chain holistically, and with deep insight, so they know exactly what’s happening and where issues are arising in real time. This is not an easy task.”

One of the biggest problems is that there aren’t clear and venerated examples of a business making a mistake that backfired and hit their bottom line. There’s no common-ground shared story about how an IoT product brought about the end of a country (yet, at least), and so there’s not much in the way of a sense of urgency among businesses to ensure that they nail their product on the first attempt.

Building on this, if Dynatrace is accurate, is the problem that many businesses can’t actually see how their products or services are being used, or rather, how they are going wrong. So then, if it’s an early-stage product that a business has little in the way of expectations for, then how is it going to see the money being left on the table when the users hit these pain-points. It won’t easily spot this just from the balance sheet, nor can it easily monitor users to see spot where they are going wrong.

In an established product, you would be able to spot falling revenue or sales, perhaps even churn away to rivals. However, in something like a smart thermostat, a $200 device that a user might interact with a couple of times a day, spotting that a process is failing or that a consumer regrets this purchase is no simple matter.

And yet, if the thermostat is providing a negative experience, the business isn’t going to ever see the damage done by that consumer to its brand, as they go about their day telling friends and colleagues about the poor user experience. If a benchmark for ‘normal’ behavior hasn’t yet been identified for the new product, spotting a deviation that might indicate frustration is a very uphill struggle.

The full report, available here, adds some more color. It appears that today’s technology is not doing much to inspire confidence in future technologies. Some 85% say they are concerned about self-driving car malfunctions leading to high-speed collisions, with 72% believing it likely that software flitches will cause serious injuries and fatalities. Apparently, 84% wouldn’t use a self-driving car due to these fears – a figure that seems much higher than other surveys.

In healthcare, another mission-critical area, consumer perception of IoT devices seems very poor. Some 62% said they would not trust an IoT device to administer medication, and unsurprisingly, the over 55’s are more concerned – responding with 74% distrust. Even data collection is something that most feel the IoT isn’t to be trusted with. Around 85% expressed concern that performance problems with these devices could compromise clinical data, which might be a more valid complaint if we weren’t still relying on overworked nurses and the infamously poor state of doctor’s handwriting.

As for a mass market opportunity, the smart home gets it in the neck from these consumers too. Around 73% fear being locked in or out of their smart home due to bugs, with 68% worrying malfunctions will stop them controlling thermostat temperatures. Some 64% have the same fear for lighting, but most pressing is the 81% that fear smart meters are going to lead to them being overcharged.