The Internet of Things, or IoT, is rapidly changing the way we consume, live, and interact with the world around us. According to estimates provided by DHL, there are around 15 billion devices currently connecting with the Internet, with predictions pointing for that number to increase by 2020. This will generate a giant influx of information, but who will really benefit from its use?
Everyone. Businesses will leverage information to develop better products and services, and consumers will happily pay for personalized items and services. But there is one key group worth mentioning: marketers. If the opportunity is taken, marketers, agencies and other marketing entities can help shape the use of the IoT for the businesses they serve.
And, in fact, some leaders in the field have already begun to help shape the direction and development of the IoT. While researching the topic I got in touch with Kit Hughes, CEO and founder of LookListen, a full-service digital agency working in several areas for a spectrum of clients, from global corporations (such as GE, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, or BP) to entrepreneurs, and they also have helped many companies break into the world of IoT.
Do you think marketers can be important an important piece in the new purchasing models that will originate from IoT?
Kit: “Marketers have the opportunity to shape how the IoT grows customer relationships. Right now it is an open field, and most businesses have not figured out how to capitalize on the benefits the IoT can bring to them and their customers. Many consumer facing IoT products and services will cause a shift in the consumer experience. Instead of touching an object like a thermostat, fridge, alarm panel, etc., the consumer will interact with it through an app on their phone or tablet. It is critical that marketers help their companies think through the best experience, something that will require strategy, and a shift in the way companies treat their brand.
With countless smart devices, objects, and services, we are about to be inundated with a flow of information about our lives and businesses, so what will be done with this information? How will companies use it? For example, a smart refrigerator can take photos of what is inside it, photos that could be accessed while the user is at the grocery store, and a pair of shoes could provide valuable data about a user's form and injury risk level.”
How can marketers and companies leverage this data?
Kit: “One of the great benefits the IoT is convenience. For example, your home might automate grocery reorders, leveraging data from your fridge or cooking patterns. Similarly, the IoT will make us better stewards of our resources, giving us notifications when we are using too much water at home, or reminding us about food about to expire. Recently, the second largest electronics manufacturer in the world engaged our company to help them create an IoT platform that will soon help to get IoT products in the home. Like us, they believe in building a beautiful user experience, which is something that marketers should also be excited about – we know we are.”
Will this new data influx change the way products and services are marketed?
Kit: “Absolutely! We are moving toward a world less mediated by screens and better integrated with everyday tools and technologies. Companies will need to adjust to an omnichannel approach that will help them engage with this challenge. Formerly independent marketing functions like email, screens, product design or packaging will need to become a part of one voice and one strategy. All these channels need to emphasize the convenience and benefits IoT services provide so, instead of describing a product, companies will need to connect with the consumer about the entire user experience.”
What will the IoT change for marketing and business in the coming years?
Kit: “IoT will change all industries and businesses, and we are about to see a shift in the current consumer space and, therefore, in the marketing world. Consumers will not want to interact with disparate devices, but objects that are a part of an ecosystem that is easy to use. So, IoT providers will need to create suites of integrated products and services, or companies will need to create aggregating apps to help devices from different vendors talk to one another. All the new products and functionalities, together with company and consumers, will reshape the landscape of business and marketing.
The future is yet to come, but today's marketers have the opportunity to help us imagine what that future looks like by being proactive in leveraging IoT data. Anyone not excited about the potential the IoT has to change marketing and the consumer space is probably not paying attention enough attention, and will possibly lose this fast-moving train.”