Why should objects in your office know where you are, and when you might need them?
Why does it matter that a toaster can talk to the fridge?
They may seem trite, but these are more than just philosophical questions. They are the meat of the matter when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). And as an innovator, I have to have answers to such questions from my peers in the marketing community, and I need to communicate who are the leaders in the field.
Last weekend, one of my challenges was addressed by a list of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies for the Internet of Things. Most marketers would know the names of the companies in the mix – everyone from Microsoft and Intel, to Salesforce and Tesla. But there is still a lot of doubt in corporate circles and the marketing sector about the value of the Internet of Things. There’s understandable concern about the personal privacy of citizens, and the possibility that the Internet of Things might further fragment the media landscape, so for marketers, the task of attracting attention becomes harder than ever.
But this is key: the reason why marketers need to embrace the Internet of Things is because it makes marketing simpler. Let me show you why.
WHAT IS IT ANYWAY?
In essence, the Internet of Things is a collective term for technologies that allow almost anything with a chip in it, or a barcode on it, to communicate with a network. And the technologies already exist.
There are already devices that track your location (mobile phones) and there are ‘smart homes’ and ‘smart offices’ that will turn lights and heating on and off, depending on where people are. And there are barcode readers, QR code readers and so on, that work not just at the checkout of your local supermarket, but at the entry to your home, or even your fridge.
So to answer the first question posed in this post, if your toaster can talk to your fridge, it can register how many slices of bread have been toasted from the loaf you normally keep in the fridge. And if the fridge is connected to your online shopping list, it can tell when you’re going to need to have a new loaf of bread delivered to your house.
Or, from a marketers’ perspective, it makes buying easier, by taking the decision maker out of the buying process. It automates the process, reducing the likelihood of the customer changing brands or outlets for purchasing.
It’s not just convenient for the householder. It’s easier for the marketer.
WHAT ARE THE IMMEDIATE OPPORTUNITIES?
The biggest issue that proponents of the Internet of Things have had up till now has been the number of devices that can be linked. But since the development of apps that can read barcodes and the increasing number of devices that are shipped with network capability, enterprises in particular are taking advantage of the Internet of Things to track resource use and improve sustainability in the workplace. There are several case studies of IoT devices now being used to make workplaces greener, and to reduce costs of operation. And this all goes to answering the second question at the top of this post – when objects in your office know where you are and when you might need them, they can be programmed to switch off, saving power, and reducing the costs of doing business.
For marketers, too, these sustainability initiatives are a great way to prove the value of IoT devices to consumers and businesses. Once customers are used to the cost-saving benefits of connecting devices at home and at work, it becomes easier to introduce new IoT applications for purchasing. And as data tracking from IoT devices improves and intelligence is collected on practices and needs, there will be improved capability to predict when a customer may need a particular product or service.
In short, marketers should be finding ways to use IoT devices that can improve home and business efficiency as a means of learning more about consumer behaviours. In an age where attention is so divided, it makes sense to follow where attention is being drawn, rather than trying to attract attention. This way marketing messaging can be focused entirely on need fulfilment rather than trying to convert a sceptical consumer base.
WHY THE IoT IMPROVES INNOVATION EFFICIENCY
And of course it’s not just marketing messaging that improves. From an innovation perspective, IoT can be used to identify bottlenecks in communication, or opportunities for process optimisation. The risk of innovation initiatives is reduced, because problems are observable, and solving them becomes a priority. Again, because it’s a matter of needs fulfilment, innovation and innovative product adoption becomes a simpler decision for businesses and consumers alike.
You can read a hundred articles online that tell you that the Internet of Things is the next stage in marketing. But for marketers, focusing on the devices misses the point. It’s all about efficiency; of data intelligence, of fulfilling customer needs, and of customer acquisition. The marketing community need to move from considering the Internet of Things as an intrusive and difficult content platform for messaging, to understanding its power as in making marketing simpler.
IMAGE SOURCE: ‘Marketing and the Internet of Things, closer than you think’, http://chiefmartec.com/2015/06/marketing-internet...