After Mobility Comes Digital Context

So, you’re thinking about turning the idea you have had in the back of your head into a full-blown start-up? Maybe build an app or two? Have you considered how your new solution will fit into your customer’s personal data ecosphere?

By 2020, the number of Internet-connected devices is likely to range between 26 and 50 billion. Think on that for a moment. Today there are already more connected devices than there are people. Tomorrow everything from the water filter you use to the parking space your company assigns you to park in will be connected via sensors to a vast ecosphere of data. That data will drive macro decisions made by global players. But it will also be available to consumers.[wcm_restrict]

Consumers’ attitudes toward data sharing and collection are shifting. While privacy is still a paramount concern, many consumers recognize that data sharing is actually beneficial to them. They want their parking spot to track parking usage because they recognize the benefit that sharing that data can have for them. Many consumers today want their own personal data ecosphere, or Digital Context. Mobility is the capability to accomplish a task where ever and whenever you want. Digital Context is the capability of smart tools and environments to anticipate what you are likely to need. And it’s made possible by data sharing. They get that.

Here are five steps you should take to play in the world of Digital Context

1. Get crystal clear on the jobs that consumers want to get done.

I say ‘jobs’ because the consumer wants to hire you for more than you think they do. Think about the functional, emotional, social, and aspirational jobs that your customer could hire you for and plan, little by little, to do all of them. Consider, for example, Amazon’s hot new product, Echo. It started out as a smart speaker, but quickly became more of a personal assistant, and will soon likely do much more.

2. Learn how to share data with consumers.

One of the biggest shifts from mobility to Digital Context is that where as when smart phones first arrived consumers were reticent to share data, today consumers know they are sharing data and they hope that by doing so they can learn more about themselves and be more productive. Tracking activity is a positive if you allow the consumer to track his or her own progress. And you provide the ability to turn off tracking if the consumer decides to stop.

3. Play a role in the larger, open data ecosystem.

If you are a start-up, you are not Google or Apple. You cannot stand alone. You need your solution to fit within the context of larger IoT-enabled solutions. You need lots of partners who have different solutions and you need to connect to them. This is not the world of single-tasked, standalone app. Find your partners!

4. Design for modes.

What a consumer wants from IoT-enabled tools is the ability to anticipate a need with a supportive environment. Think about the way that you want to experience doing something: writing an article, biking, or even watching TV. You want your digital tools to work together to support the mode you are in. You will turn on your head phones, lay out your screens, set up your computer. You want the tools to work together. As more and more things in homes become smart products, consumers will want those products to coordinate to support modes.

5. Become a platform for other products.

As consumers hire you to do more jobs and as they trust you with more data, you become a meaningful platform in their lives. You learn things about them. Other solutions will be empowered by what you know. You will establish standards for how to share and when to share. And then, you will become a platform for other products to share their capabilities with consumers.

Think about all of the consumer goods that will be smart in the future. Water filters, refrigerators, razors, and so much more. The information from all of these tools can and will be used to help consumers in ways that up until now were unimaginable. Start imagining.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]

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About the Author

David NortonDavid Norton, PhD is author of Digital Context 2.0: Seven Lessons in Business Strategy, Consumer Behavior, and the Internet of Things, and founder and principal of Stone Mantel, which has guided hundreds of brand leaders in creating meaningful brand experiences. David founded the Digital Collaborative in 2013 to help companies collaborate in conducting research about consumers and the impact of digital in their lives.

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