Categorizing IoT Devices and Wearables Part 1 - Phone Dependency

Many enterprises have begun to experiment with Internet-connected devices, such as hand-held devices, wearables, and other so-called "Internet of Things” (IoT) devices. If you want to include such devices as part of a broader digital workplace and marketing landscape, many questions arise.

  1. Can mobile middleware tools support IoT use cases?
  2. Should WCM be used to deliver content to wearables?
  3. Should these devices be included in your mobile strategy?
  4. How can publishers deliver content to such devices?
  5. And so on...

However, before you even address these questions, you'll want to categorize the IoT marketplace in order to understand it better. In this post and some follow-ups, I'll look at different ways to classify such devices.

Phone-Dependent vs. Phone-Independent

One way to classify IoT devices is in the degree of dependence on mobile phones/tablets.

Many devices are linked to your mobile phone or tablet in some way. Smart watches, such as Apple Watch, are a prime example of this category, since you use your mobile phone to provide content and services (e.g., GPS) to the watch. Other types of wearables, such as activity trackers, require an app on your mobile phone for configuration, setup, and monitoring. Of course, you could use a watch without a phone, but that would be useless.

Then there are devices that are not dependent on phones. Examples are Internet-connected appliances or sensors used for inventory management in warehouses, or those used in refineries to monitor things like oil pressure. You could still use a mobile app as an additional interface to these devices, but they typically don’t need a mobile phone to function.

Of course, there's no hard line separating these categories. Instead, it's really a continuum: on the one hand, you have devices that are completely dependent on a phone; on the other, you have devices that don’t require a phone or a tablet. Most devices will be in-between and will have varying levels of dependence on mobile phones.

Classifying IoT and Wearables Marketplace

By thinking of the IoT marketplace in this way, you can categorize the devices and evolve a strategy to target them. For example, once you figure out what kind of devices can be addressed via phones and tablets, you can use your existing WCM or mobile middleware tools to deliver content to them. This can be helpful in increasing the number and types of devices you support whilst using existing technologies.

In a future post, we will examine some other ways to classify the IoT marketplace.

In our Enterprise Mobile Technology evaluation research, RSG is increasingly examining the wearables dimension. Meanwhile, you can download a research sample here.

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