Nov. 5–6, 2015 – Berlin, Germany

Gus Desbarats  

Founder / Chairman at Alloy: experience led design 

Chairman at British Industrial Design Association

Visiting Tutor at Royal College of Art, School of Service Design 

Gus has been leading top-level design consultancies in the UK since the late 80’s. His work has won countless design awards and touches the lives of tens of millions of people every day. He is the founder of Alloy, a leading Industrial-Design consultancy working across product, interaction, service design and strategy. In addition to directing Device Design for BT, Gus is currently leading a number of projects in connected service system design and the Internet of Things, most notably Alloy’s ‘WellTogether’ start-up in connected community care. Gus is also widely published and a regular speaker on Experience Led innovation strategies and more widely on the challenging, ever changing, relationship between human behaviour, technology and organisations. 

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IOT: where the best customer experiences will win.  

The IOT is an environment in which consumers want to feel totally natural: free, safe, private, and in control. It is space where innovation will only gets adopted on consumer’s terms.  

The most high profile winners will be organisations able to develop clear and compelling lifestyle benefits that address current unmet needs. Trusted brands have a head start. 

Most able bodied people are quite happy getting up to close the curtains or flick a light switch, but who likes to dial call centres or hasn’t felt separation anxiety about their home?  In space awash with undifferentiated technology players, the real battleground will be behavioural. The winners will be the players who best understand, in detail, how ‘light-speed connectivity’ benefits the components of a good life:  ‘quality’ time, piece of mind, disposable income etc. 

Clear lifestyle benefits are necessary but not sufficient. Winning propositions must also minimise financial and behavioural costs like time investment. 

Consumers are maxed out on complexity. They will gravitate towards solutions that are effortless to adopt and take us from this painful era of constantly telling systems who we are, to one of automatic identification and configuration. The new ‘ease of use’ will be ‘minimal interaction’ and the best solutions will have the smallest experience footprint, from button pressing to recharging. 

The winners will collaborate in ‘value-chain’ teams offering the most trustworthy end to end guarantees of reliability, security and privacy. Co-branding strategies will vary.   

The winning experiences will organise fragmentation into collaboration between strong consumer brands and ‘back office’ platform brands delivering routine functionality with ‘beyond 6 sigma’ consistency via low-margin/high-volume business models. Co-branding will vary, from the ‘invisible connectivity’ model (e.g car location) to ‘smaller consumer brand + branded tech platform’ type models for more specialist home applications (e.g. door locks). Privacy policy will need to be clear and consistent along the entire data path. Experiences built on hidden exploitation of consumer data are very exposed to disruption by new value chains offering better transparency and transactional control of personal information. 

The long-term winners will earn trust via service-based commercial models and leverage trust by offering ‘eco-system’ portfolios that reward loyalty with ownership simplicity. 

One of the great consumer trends of the age is the shift in consumer preference from ‘possession ownership’ towards services. When modern lifestyles meet the perceived delivery risk of connected systems, in the sanctuary of the home, it will be extremely difficult for any ‘caveat emptor’ transaction to succeed. Whatever the exact payment format, the winning offers will be compelling piece-of-mind contracts at first adoption, backed up, where relevant, by a brand ecosystem of complementary offers that convert trust, familiarity and information into ever more effortless new purchases within an enduring connected lifestyle partnership.