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Smart products missing from Mary Meeker's trends?

This is a contributed piece from Euan Davis, European Head for Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work

Several predictions stood out in VC and industry watcher Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report presented last week. Her insights around mobile formed a major section of her forecasts. The number of mobile phone users has gone up from 80 million in 1995 to a whopping 5.2 billion in 2014. More noteworthy are her observations about the huge amount of time spent on mobile devices and how messaging still truly rules communications and mobility continues to reimagine business.

However, we believe this re-imagination of the business extends to a key trend Mary Meeker did not touch upon, namely the growing presence of intelligent—or smart—products. Our upcoming research demonstrates that the C-suite is actively taking control of the smart product strategy because the trend is so important. Many smart products now on the launch-pad are completely new and drive unprecedented customer understanding, innovation and efficiencies. This new class of data-rich products is beginning to trigger a period of intense technological change and profound commercial disruption.

Many assume smart products to be ‘wearables’ like the devices that track and measure  activity levels and enable us to compete against each other. However, smart products go way beyond wearables and have huge implications for commerce and industry. For instance, a smart product can drive insight into and around a manufacturing process and can create a genuinely new customer experience around a product by providing an in-depth understanding of a customer’s preferences. 

Consider the wealth of information that firms will be able to glean from their processes and customers and what they could do with this data—even a small amount of product data opens a Swiss army knife of applications.

Smart products are set to shake up enterprises. Our upcoming research shows that there are conflicting expectations and uncertainty around the opportunity and not all businesses have a clear strategy on the benefits.  

Overall, this is a key trend underpinned by an explosion of product data that will disrupt each sector in different ways. We believe that smart products should be part of the internet trends worth watching, as they will change business and consumer relations significantly.

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