Devicification: Invented Word or Major Disruptive Phenomenon?

I’ll admit it… the word isn’t in the dictionary yet. In fact, we invented the word ‘devicification’, but in a world of rapid change sometimes a new word is needed to describe a new and exciting phenomenon. As brands’ look for new ways to engage and re-engage with consumers collides with exciting enabling technology like IoT, we see more and more products becoming devices. It’s what we call ‘devicification.’ 


Where does devicification provide value?

Let’s start by saying that we don’t believe in technology for its own sake. It should always drive value. Sometimes it’s tempting to get over excited by new technology and try to put it everywhere. If something works well as a passive product and no value can be added by making it active, then why bother? Having said that, we see clear value in making products functional devices.

“Brands are looking for loyalty from their customers, they’re looking for a unique experience that differentiates the brand – and that’s what’s driving device-to-consumable and device solutions in the market” says Julio Oropeza, director of Jabil Packaging Systems. “If you’re able to connect devices in a building, or a school, or at home, you can secure all sorts of data and metrics that improve everyday activities.” 

Thanks to the proliferation of IoT technologies, connected devices offer the opportunity to tap into a rich stream of data and develop breakthrough value-added offerings: From auto-replenishment and delivery, to entirely new business models. The appeal of consumer devices and consumables may be clear, but innovating, launching and supporting such a product ecosystem can be daunting for even the most seasoned brand. 

It all starts with device ideation

While it can be challenging to make the leap – we believe it’s well worth it. And it all begins with ideation and customer experience. If it doesn’t enhance the customer experience, mass adoption is unlikely.

When we put our team to work with a customer, we bring together broad skills from industrial designers, user experience experts, technologists, manufacturing experts, plastics designers and of course supply chain managers. When this diverse team starts the ideation process, magic happens. Ideas come from all areas and the team explores the entire product and consumer ecosystem. Having a customer value-led approach allows the team to focus on worthwhile creativity and to develop high-value products and business models. 

Devicification has much to offer the consumer, and of course, what’s good for the consumer is good for the brand. Auto-replenishment might be one of the simplest examples. Through automated replenishment of a favorite product – from olive oil to dog food – consumers achieve untold convenience and time. They also avoid the inconvenience of running out of the product. This provides key benefits to the consumer, while encouraging them to reorder the same product, building loyalty. What’s more, auto-replenishment creates data and data is the rocket fuel for business; it provides insight into user behavior and product consumption in close to real time. 

Data that allows brands to pivot a product strategy. And if that’s not enough, this kind of devicification can also create community around a product. Registered users can receive targeted marketing messages and offers. Receiving a message that says, “Your printer is low on toner, click to reorder with this special offer.” It can make customers feel more like part of a user community and may even drive brand advocacy in a social setting. 

Other applications include interactive packaging that might advise of a tampered with or counterfeit solution or an expired product when they are reaching a “use by” date. 

These applications are likely just the tip of the iceberg and we will be seeing devicification that we haven’t yet thought of – or invented a word for yet!

According to Gartner, more than 8 billion ‘Things’ will be connected this year, and over 63% of IoT applications will be consumer solutions. That’s up 31% from 2016. Fast forward to 2020 and those numbers start to explode with more than 20 billion connected ‘Things’. Many of those will be everyday consumer products that make lives simpler and better and provide brands with better data, better loyalty and new business models not yet imagined.

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