<trp-post-container data-trp-post-id='25668'>Interview from Christophe Benavent : objects connected search consumers involved...

While connected objects appear to many to be a new Eldorado, the market still seems to be struggling to take off. We meet Christophe Benavent, Professor at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, and author of platforms: Collaborative sites, marketplaces, social networks... How they influence our choices.


Christophe, the market for connected objects is stagnating: what's the real problem?
Let's just say it's not growing as fast as we'd hoped! There are at least two main factors to explain this. The first is the fragmentation of this market, which is organised around specific uses and dedicated devices. Even if from a technological point of view the components are universal: movement and temperature sensors, commission protocols, etc., their use covers a limited field: monitoring weight, regulating temperature. They grow in clusters. The second factor is linked to the fact that uses are still being identified. While this is obvious for monitoring diabetes, it should be noted that this population is small: around 3 million in France, or less than 5% of the population. The experience of sport, with its high drop-out rates (60% after a few weeks), illustrates a case where usefulness is not universal. Even though over 80% of the population is said to be active in physical activity and sport, only a small proportion of them are concerned by fitbits and other trackers. Other markets are simply immature, even if they are destined for a bright future.

Nudge and mentoring seem necessary to enable consumers to make these new objects their own...
Yes, because the feedback from the activity does not systematically have the effect of changing behaviour or forming a habit. Measuring the number of steps you take every day is fun for a few weeks, but beyond that it can become a constraint or a source of frustration. The value of their use undoubtedly lies in the support they provide. For objects to become part of everyday life, they either have to become invisible, acting autonomously, the thermostat, or they have to become the support for a motivational system, which can take the form of nudges in the most ethical case, or be more insidious.


In your opinion, connected objects should be part of a platform approach: what do you mean by "platform approach"?

For it to be effective, the data collected needs to be stored and processed. With the spread of connected objects, we are going to see platforms specialising in the management of this data. After processing, they will return the data to users in the form of notifications, dashboards, recommendations and rankings, but they will also be able to provide third parties with information so that they can offer services. This could be advertising, coaching or preparation services, or often the automation of trivial tasks that seem like chores to us. These third-party service providers use APIs to draw on the data and calculation resources they need. The platforms feed off the interaction of the different sides of the market, providing matching capabilities, and giving themselves the power to influence the behaviour of individuals to make interactions stronger and more rewarding.

Yes, the economy of connected objects responds to a logic of platforms, of an ecosystem of platforms. The question now is who will capture the value? Manufacturers, through the sale of devices, because their tangible nature means they can be valued? Data platforms, which have greater experience in processing and transforming data? Third-party service providers, who know better than most how to build customer loyalty and value? Communications companies that circulate data? This is the main unknown today. If we follow ecological models, we can expect that the chances of one or the other will depend on the density of the ecosystem. In the first phase, generalist platforms with a high capacity for colonisation and adapted to the environment will have the advantage: when a field has just been ploughed, the first plants to take over the virgin space are those that multiply rapidly. They then form the compost and allow the robust shrubs to develop at a slower rate. Here it is generally the so-called polymorphic species, those that develop a capacity to adjust to the environment, that triumph (omnivores, for example). Their equivalent in terms of platforms are, for example, streaming platforms which, with freemium models, exploit different segments whose proportions evolve over time. When the density of objects is high, and interactions between the different markets and platforms are strong, then a space will be opened up for the most specialised. It is in the tropical rainforest that hummingbirds find their nectar, in a single species of flower.

Based on this line of thinking, we can predict that the advantage will initially be given to free models: those that distribute a large number of objects free of charge and are able to sell the data obtained to third parties prepared to pay. It's hardly surprising that the insurance industry will be one of the leading players.




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