There are no limits to what the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) will be delivering to the insurance industry. From telematics streaming from policyholders’ automobiles to data delivered via smart homes, smart buildings and smart energy meters to health monitoring, this growing body of sensor and device data is adding a whole new dimension to risk assessment and underwriting.

[See also: USAA's Biometric Tipping Point]

There is a catch, of course. Insurers’ back-end systems have to be ready to capture and process all this new data.

Many IT shops are already gearing up for the challenge. A recent survey of 1,040 enterprises from across all industries finds that 2015 will be a big year for developing business solutions with integrated "Things" – such as industrial sensors, health monitors and smart buildings – to connect with existing and new business solutions. The survey, funded by Embarcadero Technologies, found that 77% of development teams will have IoT solutions in active development in 2015 with almost half (49%) of IoT developers anticipating their solutions will generate business impact by the end of 2015, compared to only 12% in 2014. Customer demand (50%) ranks among the top drivers for Thing solution development in 2015.

The IoT phenomenon also changes the way we think about interacting with computers. It means much of this interaction, in fact, will be automatic, versus having consumers of users interacting with a website or mobile interface.  Three out of four developers in the survey (76%) say they “think differently” about the user experience – including input and output – when developing IoT solutions versus traditional software.

While more than half of Things (56%) are expected to use traditional input (e.g., keyboard, button press) in 2015, Thing solutions are gradually doing away with traditional touch. For example, "Things" will accept non-traditional input – from the likes of sensors, GPS, and line of site. These Things will present information in non-traditional ways, such as audible feedback (17%), virtual reality displays (15%), or haptic feedback (7%). The report also predicts that Things “may also send email or text messages, generate output files, or make a change to the environment like turning on a light or unlocking a door.”

In fact, in most cases, users and consumers will never even see the data or processes as they are taking place, and perhaps be blissfully unaware of it running in the background. As the survey points out, 71% say Thing data will move between devices and servers.

User experience and user interfaces are important, have long been seen as one, and should always be front and center in application development. But the rise of IoT also suggests that user interfaces may be diminishing, while user experience gains even more relevance.

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