Can LinkedIn do more to help women returning to the workforce?

This morning, at the GSVlabs Reboot Accelerator, a program for women returning to work after a long break, a representative from LinkedIn talked about the importance of having a LinkedIn profile and instructed attendees on how to create and optimize one.

The audience was extremely receptive but as the speaker was going through the steps to build a profile, it was clear that LinkedIn’s current structure created a conflict for some of these women. The challenge, which was reflected in the numerous questions about the different parts of the profile, focused on how to optimize the profile to appeal to recruiters and overcome their biases for age and gender without omitting too much of what returners are passionate about and without lying. The questions focused on everything from how a profile photo dates candidates to whether to omit graduation dates and even positions held to appear younger.

The tone in the room was positive, with a reassurance that women returning to the workforce do bring necessary skills to the table. There are companies that appreciate those so-called “soft skills” that appreciate the maturity and experience returners can bring to a role. The rich variety of strengths and wisdom that they have gained outside the workforce, in volunteer positions, parenthood, and caring for sick family members, are an advantage. Research has shown that companies with more diverse workforces perform better financially.

LinkedIn's profile advice: first step is a photo. Source: LinkedIn

LinkedIn’s profile advice: first step is a photo.
Source: LinkedIn

Yet even though companies, and by extension recruiters, may be interested in skills that returners have, LinkedIn is really focused on the more traditional, climb-up-the-ladder career. LinkedIn isn’t about soft skills, or on how caregivers juggled multiple responsibilities that weren’t professional. LinkedIn is about a single career path, and not a windy road. This difference between what the women in the room needed and what LinkedIn, as a product, offered was obvious throughout the talk.

The two biggest product differences between what the LinkedIn profile offered and what the women in the room need were:

  • Functional vs chronological format. This was a big obstacle to many women. Consider the advice LinkedIn gives users to create a complete profile: “An up-to-date current position (with a description) and two past positions.” This is easy for someone currently working and that has been working for the past few years. This is challenging for returners because most often there is a gap that they have to fill with some creative twists such as self-owned consulting companies and exaggerating minor positions.Yet, a solution exists: the functional resume, that allows job-seekers to present their experience in a better light. LinkedIn could offer seekers different profile formats and allow them to choose which they wanted to use.
  • Multiple objectives. Several women stated that they would like to target multiple fields and positions yet LinkedIn allows users to present one face to the world. The analogy is a detailed cover letter that job seekers would tailor to specific positions, that highlights relevant skills. This request came up mostly when discussing the headline and summary. This could be solved if LinkedIn could allow users to pick what summary/headline to show for specific queries and job titles by recruiters.

Two other minor issues were brought up:

  • LinkedIn really spotlights companies worked at, and recruiters can even search for experience at larger, well-known corporations. Many women who have taken a career break do not necessarily have that on their resume, sometimes because they have been out of the workforce longer than these companies have been industry giants.
  • Volunteer experiences and causes are not part of the timeline and are tacked on at the end of the profile and seems like an afterthought.

Perhaps some effort can be done on the side of recruiter search tools. As part of the talk, we got to see what they can filter for, mostly based on experience. Yet, if there is an industry demand for certain soft skills, perhaps it is time to allow filtering for them? One thing I did like is that for experience, the current threshold is “over 10 years.” Many returners have way more than that in terms of experience but this option will bring up their profile even when the recruiter is looking for “only” around 12 years. Yet there is also so much of an emphasis on the current position and company that is sure to lock many returners out.

Finally, there was talk of both gender bias and age discrimination but it was somewhat accepted with a shrug: this is the world we live in. Going back to the profile photo, a woman asked if it is even helpful to add photo that shows recruiters just how old she is. The speaker’s response was that since profiles with a profile photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed, that must outweigh the drawbacks of showing an older face. The answer could be no. Today the Wall Street Journal posted an op-ed piece that women in tech should definitely NOT use their photo online not only on LinkedIn but on all social media platforms. In fact, women shouldn’t even use their own name! The advice given: “in your LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, email address and online correspondence use your initials (or a unisex name) and eliminate photos.” Photos are used to determine not just age , but also gender and race, and gives recruiters a very easy way to eliminate candidates.

Could LinkedIn fight that?

A few weeks ago Airbnb announced it would “experiment with reducing the prominence of guest photos during the booking process” to prevent discrimination. Experts weighed in and said that more should be done to anonymize the process to combat discrimination: “profile pictures should either be eliminated or only shared after the booking is confirmed [and] that names may need to be treated the same way.” In all honestly, on LinkedIn, are names and photos even necessary? After all, skills and experience are what recruiters are really looking for, not looks. If no one had profile photos, would that even the playing field? If LinkedIn is uneasy at removing both of those, how about just for the search results? Let users optimize headlines, leaving photos and names for the full profile? It seems like a counterintuitive move, but test and study results. If it leads to less discrimination and more equality, it’s worth it.

Google Allo: yet another messaging app

Google announced Allo, its new messaging app, at I/O back in May, and launched it last week. I didn’t rush to download it because, frankly, I don’t need another messaging app. Right now on my phone I have Hangouts, which works well with my Gmail contacts, which are the majority of the people I want to communicate with, and WhatsApp, which I was basically bullied into using. I’ll get back to that in a moment. I also have Messenger for text and Google Voice for even more texts. Bottom line: I can already message anyone I want with the apps currently installed on my phone. 

But in the spirit of messaging adventure, I downloaded Allo. First it asked for permission to access Contacts, SMS, Storage, Camera, and Media, and wouldn’t continue until I granted the first three. By ‘wouldn’t continue’ I mean throwing me out to the app setting screen without a clear indication of what to do (i.e. go to permissions and allow everything.) I gather that research has indicated that users just ok every permission asked for but for those who don’t, this isn’t the best experience. Anyway, continuing through an easy phone-number verification, Allo asked me to either message a friend, start a group, or chat with the assistant.

Chatting opens up a list of my Google Contacts with everyone I ever entered, from my local Costco to my dentist, to my friends and husband. Surely, Google, you know better than to present these contacts alphabetically? Surely you know who I chat with most often on Hangouts and email most often? Allo adds to the scrolling misery by listing every number for every contact separately, so that it takes even longer to find the right contact. What I like about this interaction, though, is that Allo doesn’t care if my chosen recipient is on Allo or not, it just sends a message, routing it by SMS if necessary. The Verge says that it’s supposed to do something way more interesting and invoke Google’s new “app preview notification,” which should “shoot a notification directly to your Android device instead of going through SMS. Your friend will get a notification that looks and acts almost as if they had the app installed in the first place, message content and all. It means they won’t incur any SMS fees, either. Your recipient can reply within the notification, or tap on it to install the app.” This didn’t work to the friends I sent an Allo message to, but it sounds promising and a great way to help build an Allo network.

Discussing the weather with Google Assistant. I love the follow up bubbles.

Discussing the weather with Google Assistant. I love the follow up bubbles.

What I do love on Allo is Google Assistant, and I have a feeling we are going to be good friends. It’s easy to ask questions, replies have been spot on, and the assistant (shouldn’t have a catchier, shorter name?) suggests good follow up questions for some queries. For example, I asked about the weather, the assistant said to wear sunscreen as it is 84F and I was given the option to ask a few follow up questions, such as “what about this weekend”  It will need to get smarter, through, because as I ask “what time is the debate” I get the top few news links referring to the debate instead of the answer I needed. But this kind of machine learning and searching for information is what Google is great at and I’m sure it will improve greatly over the next few months. I also like that it can be invoked in group chats, especially useful when talking about where and when to meet and future, mutual events.

When is the debate?

When is the debate? I don’t need news, I need a time.

Finally, getting back to why I installed WhatsApp a few months ago. While I felt that I could message anyone I needed, it turns out that a majority of conversations between friends and family were happening on WhatsApp, which I had not yet installed. In Israel, where many of them live, literally everyone uses WhatsApp, to the point where schools, PTAs, public events, and government- and municipal- sponsored activities are all coordinated via WhatsApp. While I could still message my friends on the other platforms, WhatsApp groups is where everything is happening, which is why I finally started using it. Just like Allo, WhatsApp identities are based on a mobile phone number and while WhatsApp doesn’t come with Allo’s friendly invites, WhatsApp already has all my (international) friends and family. There is no argument I can make to get them to switch to Allo, where the only benefit is having an assistant on tap. The inertia (and network) is strong with WhatsApp. I also don’t see my Hangouts or Facebook Messenger pals switching to Allo. Whether it can gain enough of a user base to become a messaging app of choice for any community or group remains to be seen.   

A few things need to change to put smart devices in more homes

A few weeks ago Gartner released its updated Emerging Technology Hype Cycle, where it places various technology along the early adoption curve and estimates how long technologies have before they reach mass adoption. Internet of Things devices have been on the Cycle for a few years. Last year they were at the Peak of Inflated Expectations, meaning a lot of fluff  and talk (aka hype) but not a lot of great products. This year Gartner moved them off the chart, perhaps signifying that IoT has indeed reached mass adoption. With hardware, appliance, and tech stores full of connected, “smart” devices, maybe IoT really is mainstream.

But is it?

Looking at the abundance of devices we could be tempted to say that yes, there’s a “smart” everything now (even a t a connected candle!) but ask a non-techie friend what smart device they have and I bet they’ll only show you a fitness tracker. I think this boils down to a few issues:

  1. Apple's HomeKit looks like a promising IoT hub with simple addition of devices and the ability to define rooms and scenes for easier and more automated control. Source: Apple

    Apple’s HomeKit looks promising, with simple addition of devices and the ability to define rooms and scenes for easier and more automated control.
    Source: Apple

    Central control is not there yet and every smart device comes with its own app. It’s fun for the first two, three devices but then it becomes tedious to have a different app for your thermostat, blinds, lights, and coffee machine. The act of getting up in the morning now requires opening four different apps or automating everything independently, making it a hassle every time you want to wake up one hour later. The big hope for this space, Apple, just released a version of Home Kit with centralized device control and Google has the “works with nest” platform and is also planning to launch Google Home soon, with the intent of controlling all home IoT devices. Amazon’s Alexa also works with some devices. The question, given that these solutions are relatively new, is whether they are ready for wider adoption and how easy it will be for other devices to work with them. Also, how difficult will it be for device manufacturers to be compatible with all systems?

  2. Setup of each device is unique and it’s not always easy Many manufacturers realize that requiring electricity for their devices is too high a barrier for adoption and have opted for battery powered devices with wireless connectivity (of course) but every device requires its own software setup and each is unique. Perhaps once the IoT platforms are more robust a device will only have to be turned on to be added to the system.
  3. Prices are still way too high. A Nest thermostat costs $249, programmable ones under $50. Light bulbs cost between $20 and $60 each, and some require an additional hub, whereas non-connected bulbs are a fraction of that. The Nest fire alarm costs $99 while a three-pack of regular alarms are less than $50. All six smart locks in this review cost over $150 each where a simple lock costs under $15. A smart doorbell? $200. Granted, all the smart devices offer much more functionality than their unconnected equivalents but those are premium prices, intended for customers who are willing to pay extra, aka early adopters.
  4. Bugs are treated nonchalantly. IoT malfunctions shouldn’t be an acceptable consequence of a software upgrade. It’s not as if a game crashes, it’s unlocked doors or doors that don’t open, burst pipes and cold babies. These stories gather much attention and serve as a deterrent for new adopters.
  5. Privacy of collected data and the ownership of that data. Every smart device stores data “in the cloud” whether it’s steps taken or the content of the fridge or when people enter and leave your house. There are three issues here customers need to be reassured of: whether that data is safe, who has access to it, and whether you need to pay to get that data.
  6. Less ownership restrictions. There are many strange uses of DRM by companies to protect their products such as Keurig with its “use only ours” pod and, more recently, HP blocking third party ink cartridges with a software upgrade. Even IoT devices aren’t immune: Phillips, for a time, blocked third-party lights from its Hue hub. Connected devices are continuously open to such upgrades. Manufacturers can also change the terms of use when they please. Tile just sent me an email notifying me of an update this week of an update to their Privacy Policy without giving me an option to opt out or clearly mentioning what had changed. Manufacturers can also choose not to continue to support older products, leaving important devices, such as a front door lock, inoperable.

Early adopters, those willing to pay a premium, risk security, and spend lots of time setting up devices and getting them to work with one, central hub have already bought the first and second wave of IoT products. Gartner estimates that the number of installed consumer devices will more than triple by 2020. For that to happen, products need to be simpler, safer and cheaper.

Why we’re still struggling to buy clothes online… at least women are

Last week, Tim Gunn (you know him from Project Runway) wrote an interesting op-ed about how fashion designers were ignoring a large section of American women. “There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them.” Mr Gunn also added that “most designers max out at size 12” yet “the average American woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18.”

So why is this in a tech blog? About a year ago I wrote about challenges in online clothes buying unique to women and how little fashion retailers and brands were doing to personalize the experience. One year later, beyond the personalized shoppers, most sites still go for the standard display: a grid of clothes, mostly modeled on a tiny (Size 4? Size 2?) model or laid out on the floor. The better sites offer a wide range of filtering options but only a few offer any kind of ability to see different sizes modeled.

Elizabeth Suzann's wonderful size lineup.

Elizabeth Suzann’s wonderful size lineup.

Yesterday, a Racked post talked about a small brand in Nashville, Tennessee, making the effort to show their clothes on different body types: “Elizabeth Suzann will now show every item of clothing in their Signature Collection on models who represent every size in which the item is available.” See, for example, this beautiful LBD shown first on the customary waifish model and then on six different sized models, along with their height and weight. Having this information makes the buying decision much easier, reduces post-delivery dissatisfaction, and might help prevent a return.

Detailed review on Rent the Runway.  Includes size worn, overall fit, occasion rented for, size usually worn, height, age, bust, body type, and weight.

Detailed review on Rent the Runway.
Includes size worn, overall fit, occasion rented for, size usually worn, height, age, bust, body type, and weight.

Before Elizabeth Suzann I had only seen Rent the Runway’s solution: for each outfit, different women shared of how it looked them, how it fit, and some personal stats. Most share height, usual size, chosen size, and fit; some shared age, weight, bust size, body type, and occasion. Most importantly, all share a photo of them wearing the dress. For someone who needs to choose a dress to wear to a special occasion, such information is invaluable. A random dress I picked out in the “popular” section had 167 reviews with 126 (!) photos. That is an incredible number of reviews and offers users a chance to see what a dress looks like on different body types. Rent the Runway also offers a way to filter reviews and photos to show only “Women Like Me” (by size, height, bust size and age.) Viewing this information can make the rental decision easier and more satisfied customers.

So what will it take to see a shift, if not in the range of sizes offered women, at least in the way clothing is represented online? If Elizabeth Suzann manages to significantly increase revenue, it might prompt other brands to show different sized models. If not, as Elizabeth Suzann is a relatively small brand, (making this effort exceptionally impressive) it might take a larger brand to influence others. The other alternative for online retailers is what Rent the Runway does with its detailed reviews, which, for huge collections, might be a bit more feasible. Either way, it’s high time for a change.

Facebook’s passive-aggressive, love-hate, on-again off-again, relationship with news

Facebook has been struggling in recent weeks in how it handles news and following that struggle been interesting. Here are a few recent milestones:

  1. May 2015: Facebook courts the big news outlets with “Instant Articles” – a way to get their content in front of more users through the news feed while Facebook tries to prevent users from leaving to view news on external news sites.
  2. May 2016: Conservative groups blame Facebook for censoring right-wing news in their trending news section. Facebook denies the allegations.
  3. June 2016: Facebook changes the newsfeed algorithm to prioritize personal stories over news.
  4. August 2016: Facebook fires trending news editors, lets the algorithm make decisions. Algorithm is gamed and features fake stories.
  5. September 2016, yesterday: Facebook removes a Pulitzer-winning photo of the Vietnam War and accompanying article for violating its community standards. It restored the photo a day later after much admonishment.

It is the last point of contention that I find truly interesting. The photo, known as The Terror of War, is largely credited with helping end the Vietnam War in spite of, or maybe even because, it is so disturbing. Taking the photo was only the first step. It was publishing it on every media platform that caught American’s attention and influenced public opinion. It wasn’t just an editorial choice that drove publication, it was also the competitive nature of media at the time. If one paper wouldn’t print it, another would. In today’s world, that competition is almost gone. The staggering stat that has to figure into this discussion is just how many people get their news from Facebook, be it via shared links in the newsfeed or trending news topics. According to Pew Research “Facebook [reaches] 67% of U.S. adults… two-thirds of Facebook users who get news there, then, amount to 44% of the general population.”

Facebook is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It strives for engagement, it truly wants users to spend lots of time on the site and app. Facebook would prefer that “engagement” mean sharing original content and personal news, but that requires user effort. It is much simpler for users to share a link, and many of those links are on various news sites. It is then up to Facebook’s opaque newsfeed, Trending News and content removal algorithms to decide who sees those shares. It’s a tough place for an algorithm to be.

In the machine learning session at Google I/O this year, Aparna Chennapragada said something that stuck with me regarding machine learning. “You want to look at problems that are easy for machines and hard for humans, the repetitive things, and then make sure that those are the problems you throw machine learning at.” Sorting news and adhering to community standards is the opposite: it’s not easy for machines and easy for humans. It’s a task that throwing more computational power at won’t necessarily improve performance and that performance will almost always reflect the bias of its creators.

Algorithm-driven Trending News on Facebook: nothing about the US election, Syria, or North Korea's nuclear tests, front page news elsewhere.

Algorithm-driven Trending News on Facebook: nothing about the US election, Syria, or North Korea’s nuclear tests, front page news elsewhere.

Zeynep Tufekci, who has done a lot of work on the intersection of Facebook and news, had this interesting observation about the difficulty of creating unbiased algorithms: “If Google shows you these 11 results instead of those 11, or if a hiring algorithm puts this person’s résumé at the top of a file and not that one, who is to definitively say what is correct, and what is wrong? Without laws of nature to anchor them, algorithms used in such subjective decision making can never be truly neutral, objective or scientific.

Regarding news, Ms Tufekci claimed that Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm “largely buried news of protests over the killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., probably because the story was certainly not “like”-able and even hard to comment on. Without likes or comments, the algorithm showed Ferguson posts to fewer people, generating even fewer likes in a spiral of algorithmic silence.” Ms Tufekci makes the argument that algorithms alone cannot decide what news items to show, much less promote.

So back to the rock and hard place. Nearly half of all Americans get their news from Facebook, which means that even though Mr Zuckerberg says that Facebook is “a tech company, not a media company,” it really cannot avoid its growing influence on what stories Americans (and others around the globe) are exposed to. In the controversy surrounding the takedown of The Terror of War photo, Espen Egil Hansen, the editor-in-chief and CEO of the Norwegian news outlet that shared it, accused Mr Zuckerberg of “thoughtlessly abusing your power over the social media site that has become a lynchpin of the distribution of news and information around the world.” He added: “I am worried that the world’s most important medium is limiting freedom instead of trying to extend it, and that this occasionally happens in an authoritarian way.”

Restoring the photo may have resolved this particular case but it definitely opened a can of worms. Facebook will need to find a way to deal with news items and based on how algorithms have performed in the past, it won’t be able to rely on them. Contrary to Mr Zuckerberg’s stated desires, that action may involve human decision makers. It will be interesting to see what Facebook decides to do.

UI and product management: designing for people who aren’t us

This week I read Tracy Chou’s observations on helping a woman get public transport directions from Google Maps in London. She described some of the challenges the woman faced in using an app that is one of the most popular on mobile and essential to visitors and tourists. From her observation, Ms Chou pointed out three interesting differences in how she and this woman use Maps:

  1. Understanding “common” usage conventions. These were crystal clear to Ms Chou and confounding to the woman she helped. This is true for both interactions and icons. Per Ms Chou: “I switched it to public transit directions by tapping on the walking man icon, but I also realized how completely non-intuitive it is to have to do that.” Another example is understanding when it is necessary to scroll down for more information.
  2. Knowing bits of information that weren’t presented in the app that the woman didn’t, such as “Google Maps has a lot of issues with UK addresses; apparently the key is to strip the addresses down to the postal codes which are uniquely identifying.” I did not know this, either. Also knowing that input can be case insensitive to save time.
  3. Physical limitations such as entering information on “tiny” windows with a “tiny” keyboard (everything is relative.) “She struggled a few times to delete the street address from the search input field because the box was too small and she couldn’t get the cursor in.”

Ms Chou’s final observation struck a chord with me: “As creators of technology, we still aren’t doing a good job serving people who aren’t us” where “us” usually means “young, mostly male, mostly White and Asian, tech-savvy urban professionals with disposable incomes and the latest shiniest devices and apps, with a strong geographic bias to SF / Bay Area and maybe NYC.”

It is very easy, perhaps too easy, to get feedback from our peers. But our peers, being our peers, think in ways similar to us, enjoy the same apps, and have a similar set of experiences that they take from app to app, from interaction to interaction. In fact, ask someone near you, who works with you, what they think are “common user actions” on mobile and then ask someone way outside that circle what they think. That swipe you thought everyone would understand somehow is not clear to everyone.  In so many cases, our circle of peers is limited in experiences and isn’t diverse enough to provide the feedback we truly need.

Now you see it, now you don't: the case of the disappearing phone app.

Now you see it, now you don’t: the case of the disappearing phone app.

Here’s just one experience I had recently that is similar to Ms Chou’s. My mother-in-law was setting up her new Android phone. For her, the most important feature of the phone is making calls. Everything else, including email, is secondary. As she was learning about her phone, she accidentally held, dragged and dropped the phone app and merged it into a folder with the Hangouts app, both on her bottom row of static app icons. For her, in an instant, the phone app “disappeared.” She had no idea how to reverse the disappearance, which she did not even realize she had caused. The phone was, at that moment, useless to her until she got support from a (younger) family member. One accidental, unnoticed action resulted in rendering the entire phone useless. Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe it.

We need to do a better job at serving people who aren’t us.

Gartner’s emerging technology hype cycle – updated for 2016!

I always like looking at Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle analysis, out at the end of summer. The complete name is the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies which implies that to make it on this chart means a technology has garnered enough awareness to be noticed. The best way to leave is to gain mass adoption, or at least mainstream acceptance. The not-so-good way of leaving is to never make it to either. For some of the technologies I’m interested in, the Hype Cycle is always a measure of what’s visible outside Silicon Valley where I live.

Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013-2016 Sources: , Gartner 2013, Gartner 2014, Gartner 2015

Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2013-2016
Sources:   Gartner 2013, Gartner 2014, Gartner 2015, Gartner 2016

First thing I noticed is that there was only one technology that made it through to the Plane of Enlightenment, where Gartner predicts wide adoption. This year it is Virtual Reality and I agree, this was the year that Facebook’s Oculus started sales, Google introduced its own VR platform in May and already had an extremely accessible (and cheap) version called Cardboard, Samsung is selling its own set, and Best Buy betting on VR for the 2016 holiday season, it’s safe to say that VR is definitely everywhere. Estimates for sales of VR sets for this year range from 2.5 to 9.6(!) million this holiday season, which, even on the low end, is impressive. 

Another technology that is “everywhere” are drones, aka “Commercial UAVs” (unmanned aerial vehicles.) It’s interesting that they only made it on the hype cycle this year seeing as 1 million were expected to be sold during the 2015 holiday season. Not quite as much as VR sets this year but surely they should have been on the Hype Cycle before?

Google's self-driving car practicing on suburban streets.

Google’s self-driving car practicing on suburban streets.

Autonomous vehicles are at the peak of the cycle, at Inflated Expectations. Here in the valley, I see a Google car make the rounds each afternoon, testing the suburban streets. Uber is planning to launch a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh in a month and it seems that companies all over the globe are trying to make them work. One recent drawback was the crash of a Tesla in a “hands-free” mode, despite Tesla claiming that the technology is not ready to be used without human supervision. Yet all this means that the technology is on the street already and might be ready for widespread adoption sooner than the decade Gartner anticipates.

Finally, one technology conspicuously dropped of the Hype Cycle this year – Internet of Things. Last year it was expected to take another 5 to 10 years for that technology to reach the mainstream. This year has seen an explosion of “smart” devices sold in hardware stores, appliance stores, and, of course, electronic stores. Also, just looking at smart thermometers, in some ways the flagship IoT product, the unit sales for 2015 seem to rival drones, yet they are off the chart. Based on recent security and privacy challenges for IoT devices and cross-manufacturer connectivity issues, I would think that the technology is somewhere in the Trough of Disillusionment but heading out to the Plane of Enlightenment. Interestingly, Gartner puts the Connected Home at the peak of Inflated Expectations and IoT Platform , so perhaps it has lumped Internet of Things in with those two technologies?

Wearables have also left the chart, I assume to the Plateau of Productivity. This is interesting because last year Wearables were already sliding from the Peak of Inflated Expectations (AKA hype) to the Slough of Disillusionment and Gartner estimated that they would reach mainstream acceptance in 5-10 years. Here in the Valley it’s extremely common to see at least a fitness wearable on every wrist, but I hadn’t realized that adoption was this great outside our bubble. Also, the Apple Watch is commonly spotted here, but seems to be a disappointment from the product and sales perspective, and that was supposed to be the flagship wearable. Based on that, wouldn’t wearables be deep in the Slough of Disillusionment?

Till next year!