By Richard Thornton

The recent news that IBM has committed to a major investment in establishing an Internet of Things (IoT) unit is indicative of the growing importance of mobile devices in data collection and analytics – something we’ve long believed will be the future. It is widely recognised that the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets outstrip PC and desktop machines, but IoT encompasses a far wider remit and is a huge data source with significant potential. In fact, IBM says that around 90 per cent of the data generated by mobile devices and IoT, including vehicles, wearables and household appliances, doesn’t even get analysed.

IoT has been a real buzz phrase in the technology world, with the very idea of it once being too futuristic to contemplate. Who would have thought that one day we’d be switching on our washing machines, lights or heating systems remotely from a mobile device while out shopping? Additionally, the introduction of ‘life logging’ wearables such as the Apple Watch (set to take the world by storm this month), indicates that devices are set to get smarter and more beneficial to users. Certainly, the launch of Apple’s ResearchKit – which aids the medical research world with the provision of valuable data that can help with the advancement of medical studies and medicines – is a great example of how IoT will become instrumental in data provision. Apple Watch + iPhone = more data points on our health than ever before are being stored on our devices. As another source of data collection, IoT arguably presents better opportunities than others due to the way in which people use and interact with these devices, presenting more accurate data.

So with mobile apps used to control and monitor devices and appliances remotely, how will IoT evolve further? As well as investment by the likes of IBM, whose plans involve tapping into the data and providing platforms through which it can be analysed more intelligently, we will see a real push on development of apps to get consumers on board in a more mainstream way. It will be down to brands to drive this adoption among consumers which will likely be led by apps with added benefits to keep them engaged, as well the introduction of new wearables, (items such as jewellery and even clothes have been hotly tipped).

In a world full of distractions where consumers are arguably less likely to participate in surveys for the reporting of data, passive measurement is a real innovation and will play a significant role in the evolution of data collection from IoT. Developments that take the onus away from the user to report and facilitate collection, measurement, analytics, and even take the relevant action as a result of these insights, will be a real focus.

The evolution of IoT will be a huge asset to the data collection industry. In the MR world, a real consideration is the growing importance of user experience; understanding respondent behaviour to better affect survey completion and buy-in, from how people want to take surveys to when, and in what environment. Data from IoT will better enable MR players to tap into preferences and better understand behaviour to consistently improve the user experience. This is a key consideration as sample supply isn’t infinite and as the population ages, it falls to the younger generation to take part in surveys, so mobile will be the mainstay of MR.

It’s another exciting development in a fast-paced, ever-evolving landscape with technology at its heart, and user experience is a key consideration that must never be underestimated.

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