Aging Population Is Key Critical Market for Internet of Things (IoT)
Jun 30, 2015
Americans and Canadians who rely on the Internet of Things (IoT) to monitor and adjust their homes’ a/c, alarms, lighting, water taps, and window shades while they are away this holiday week may be forgiven in thinking that these cool products are the only dimension to IoT. AT&T may be to blame. I loved the grandfather and son ads for its Digital Life products that highlighted the all too real-life advantages of IoT solutions.
But it is the IoT solutions that are aimed at ensuring that the grandfather will be around, and in good health for many more visits that may be one of the biggest markets for them. Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the number of individuals aged 65 and over will climb from 44 million at the end of 2015 to 64 million by 2025 in the U.S. alone.
A new Frost & Sullivan report, Major Trends and Attractions in the Global Aged Care Market, points out that there will be increased global demand for wearable remote patient alarms, apps, like for exercising, and monitoring. There also will be markets for smart home medication tracking, object locators, and reminder systems.
There are several factors driving the adoption of IoT and other similar technologies for aging care. First, 90% of those who are 65 and older are expected to have one or more chronic conditions. Second, the population of professional and informal caregivers is declining, especially in relation to the potential demand for care and support. That means there will be fewer people to check up on elderly individuals and less visits. Third, aging individuals prefer to live in their own homes. IoT technologies give them more independence. Meanwhile tools like audio and video monitors allow healthcare providers and family members to remotely check on their loved ones--and on visiting caregivers--to ensure high quality respectful care.
But there are downsides to IoT-enabling the aging population, the most critical of which are encouraging individuals to obtain and effectively use these technologies. To that end the IoT devices that require user intervention must be designed with these users in mind, meaning simple and intuitive, like with large and textured buttons and displays, and audible. Their benefits must clearly be explained both to the individuals for whom they are for, and where appropriate to caregivers, and to their family and friends.
Most critically, the IoT devices’ customer support staff must be hired for, trained in, and empowered to help aging individuals. That requires agents who are patient, empathetic, tolerant, who speak and write clearly, who are willing to be flexible, but who will stay firm on policies and procedures.
Indeed it is the customer care and service dimension to IoT that may be the most crucial for its success with the aging market. A recently published Frost & Sullivan report, The Potential for Internet of Things (IoT) in Customer Service points out IoT systems detects issues before they become problems, thereby enabling their quick resolution. They also collect vast amounts of data that provide invaluable insights that could improve the quality of care, both directly to the individuals, and by enabling improvements to supporting processes and solutions. But at the same time vendors must make sure that IoT systems are highly secure at every touchpoint. And that the devices themselves remain reliable in order that they continue to provide assistance.
Brendan Read is Senior Industry Analyst with over 25 years’ experience covering business, communications, staffing, and technology. He has worked in, prepared reports, and blogged on a wide range of topics including customer contact, CX, CRM, IoT, social media, supply chain, and BC/DR. He also has backgrounds in construction, manufacturing, materials, resource extraction, site selection, and transportation. He examines the broad economic, environmental, innovation, political, and social mega trends, and their impacts on businesses, markets, and society.