The Internet Of Things is a concept flummoxing a lot of content marketers. But the future is almost here, and so we marketers have to be ready for everything that comes flying at us. Right now, it seems the next thing we have to be ready for it’s the “Internet of Things” (IoT). But what the heck is the “Internet Of Things”? A simple explanation is that the Internet is now going to connect up not only computers, mobiles and tablets, it’s going to connect every single gadget or device it can find in this wide, wide world. All these Content Technologies & Trends are going to give you no option. You’re going to drawn into the whirl, ready or not!
So, if we look at our lives fast-forward, IoT it may be something like this: You connected car will signal to your connected fridge that you are leaving work and heading for home. Your connected fridge will realize that this week your connected body is low on proteins and will inform the connected store on your route to keep you favourite protein foods ready to pick up. Your connected car will tell you to drive by your store and pick up the food. Your connected oven will hear of all this, and heat up in readiness for your arrival. Phew!
How big is this “Internet Of Things” really – and where is it headed?
While you were not watching, apparently, there are already more connected things than people in the world than you think. Analyst research organization Gartner seems to indicate that around 8.4 billion IoT devices were in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and this will likely hit 20.4 billion by 2020. Gartner also says that total spending on IoT endpoints and services will reach almost $2tn in 2017, with two-thirds of those devices found in China, North America and Western Europe. Out of that 8.4 billion devices, more than half will likely be consumer products like smart TVs and smart speakers, according to Gartner.
Another research major, IDC, predicts worldwide spending on IoT at $772.5bn in 2018 – up nearly 15 percent on the $674bn that will be spent in 2017. IDC predicts that total spending will hit $1tn in 2020 and $1.1tn in 2021. And according to IDC, hardware will be the largest technology category in 2018 with $239bn going on modules and sensors, with some spending on infrastructure and security. Services may be the second largest technology category, followed by software and connectivity.
You may ask: Why do I need so many connected things around me at home? It may take you a while to figure out the value of such connectivity, but as with most technology, once you get used to it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without all this before. But on a broader scale, try to see that IoT can be applied to larger things like transportation networks: “smart cities”, for instance, can help us reduce waste and improve efficiency for things such as energy use – among many other advantages.
See this graphic below from Libelium that tries to look at all the possible benefits of smart connected cities …
Image courtesy: Libelium
Security and standardization seem to be the major challenges, going forward!
One thing that we, as solopreneurs, need to know is that while connectedness does promise a world that’s super-efficient, there can be serious issues of security to take care of. The more connected everything is, in a way, the more vulnerable we all are to security breaches that can affect many parts of our lives simultaneously.
A report from Samsung, for example, says that the need to secure every connected device by 2020 is “critical”. The firm’s Open Economy document stresses that “there is a very clear danger that technology is running ahead of the game”. Samsung believe more than 7.3 billion devices will need to be made secure by their manufacturers before 2020.
Everything that’s connected to the internet can be hacked, and IoT products are no exception. In the matter of security, there will also be challenges of surveillance. If every product around you – in your home and outside – becomes connected, there’s huge potential for unbridled “watching and stalking”. Some of this digital stalking could be commercially intended. For example, if a connected fridge tracks your food usage and consumption, restaurants and stores near you target your grocery buying and aim at subtly change your perceptions and habits. What’s worse, how can you be sure your smart watch is not leaking information to unscrupulous hackers every time you visit the ATM machine to draw cash?
As James Clapper, the US direction or national intelligence said in 2016: “In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.” Just because it’s Big Brother watching you doesn’t mean you will find it a tad more acceptable than if thieves and hackers were watching you, right?
And then there comes the possible “miscommunications” arising out of mismatched standards of all these connected things. Connected objects need to be able to speak to each other to transfer data and share what they are recording. If they all ran on many different standards, they may not just struggle to communicate and share … they could turn your world upside down if they got all their signals mixed up. Think of the nightmare of getting stuck in a “connected objects world” that was on a tangled loop?
4 ways IoT may change digital marketing – solopreneurs need to see where the positives may lie!
Despite the possible security, surveillance and standardization challenges, IoT will also soon mean more positives on the digital marketing front – something that solopreneurs have to study carefully.
IoT will surely have great impact on the way we do business, specifically where marketing success calibration is concerned. Here’s are four ways that IoT may improve marketing ROI:
1. Easier transfer of sales data may help sellers better tailor products for consumers. Smart connected devices will be able to gather vital purchase data and supply it back to sellers in real time, perhaps without the need for IT professionals to intermediate the interaction, and thus businesses may be able to take faster and smarter marketing decisions leading to better and more cost-efficient strategies that improve ROI on future sales.
Customers will also be able to provide useful feedback instantaneously. So, for example, if a product isn’t living up to promises or expectations, sellers won’t have to wait very long at all to find out about it. Spotting issues early could mean potential losses may be averted sooner rather than later.
2. Customer relationship management dynamics may change with self-maintenance-oriented products. Smart connected products could also have inbuilt systems that monitor their life expectations. Connected products may also be able to signals their self-diagnostic data to both marketers and consumers, so that customer relationship management may mean better anticipation of product retirement and pre-preparedness for product upgradations.
It’s a well-known axiom in marketing that if you can anticipate customer dissatisfactions before they arise, and pre-empt them with timely interventions that help the customer avoid setbacks, it will save many a customer leaving you for the competitor. Loyalty then becomes more of a controllable factor for the marketer, when he can know what may likely cause a change of loyalties and he can be ready to redirect the customer through earlier forestalling of dissatisfactions. CRM could become even more of a pre-emptive exercise than it is currently.
3. The nature of social media may change and communities may get built around device-sets. When a lot of things get connected, their usefulness to consumers doesn’t just become a sum of their parts but their could be a bigger value from their synergies with each other. Social media as we know it could become groupings of people using certain connected device collections that lead to some greater consumer value than we know presently.
If you are a marketer you may find new customers too who get associated with your old customer communities as a result of shared interests areas growing larger around a group of connected devices. Marketers who are able to keep pace with the development of these larger connected social communities, can target their efforts towards these communities, and may be able to reach potential customers that may not have previously been available.
4. Advertising may become more need relevant than it is today. Consumers will love that it hits them only when they really need it. For example, what if you got to see an ad for baking powder only when your larder shelves signal that stocks are low? This may mean the end of interruptive and unwanted advertising that throws irrelevant products in your face at irrelevant times and hopes you remember the brand when you need it.
On the contrary, how useful it would be to both marketer and consumer if an advertisement made itself visible only when the need was growing relevant to the consumer. The consumer would love the “alert”, while the marketer would probably see faster ROI from the ad in terms of sales as a direct result of relevantly timed advertising.
3 great examples of IoT that’s already in your world and making a big difference!
#1: How Fitbit encourages more users to join the fitness conscious movement – it’s IoT in action!
Fitbit is a classic example of how the Internet Of Things can impact people individually and in growing communities. FitBit is a watch like wearable device that allows the user to post the stats that the FitBit gathers when they move or exercise or even stay still. Their fitness parameters are published and can be shared online with social media fans – thereby advertising the main benefit of the product to friends.
This increases the reach of the product on social media – and also acts as a form of social proof. Users who can see their friends are using the product and are enjoying doing so and getting fitter by the day, will be encouraged to purchase and advertise their fitness journeys too.
Image courtesy: Fitbit
Fitbit says: “Our ecosystem lets people connect to thousands of the most popular health and fitness apps and programs.
Our solutions also allow employers, health plans, and health systems to engage more meaningfully with people throughout their daily lives. Fitbit’s health technology has the hearts, minds and data on millions of users in our global community—and we’re with them 24/7.” Notice how the product has focused on connecting the entire health and fitness ecosystem around a person, thus giving him access to the best of healthcare in time, while also advertising the product to his friends on social media.
#2: How Amazon allows reordering of Tide detergent from a dash button stuck to your washing machine!
Every marketer’s dream would be to sell a product that can re-order itself when the customer needs it, right? Thatis just what the detergent Tide and Amazon produced together as a foray into IoT. Amazon’s dash buttons, stuck on your washing machine, connect to your home wi-fi and then link out to the Amazon app. The dash button needs just one short press whenever you are running low on Tide detergent. See the image below …
Image courtesy: Amazon
A new pack of Tide will turn up on your door in a couple of days via Amazon fulfilment of delivery.
Look at this simple but extremely effective way Amazon and Tide achieve three things:
- One, timely pre-emption of your purchase of any other brand of detergent by making it super-easy to just push a button when you need that detergent;
- Two, creating a visible advertisement for Tide as a bright orange eye-catching button that you may pass by at least a hundred times a day and ingrain in your memory as the best brand for your washing machine;
- Three, a simple digital button that connects up your washing machine, a mobile app and your Amazon account – creating a marketing loop that traps your loyalty in!
#3: How Uber talks to Spotify and they both talk to your car to enhance your travel experience!
Uber, the car travel brand and Spotify, the music brand, have connected their services. So what happens?
Customers can connect their Spotify account to their Uber app, and then when they take a ride in an Uber car, they can use the Uber App to play music through the car’s speakers via their Spotify accounts. What we ultimately have here is two separate apps talking to one another, and then talking to a car. Isn’t that a great example of the Internet of Things?
It improves the customer experience, and also helps the brands retain customers by getting them locked into their product ecosystem. There is also the advantage that these two brands get associated in consumer minds as one common experience. Thus the sales of the one brand automatically increase the sales of the other. Watch this video to feel the experience …
Video Courtesy: Uber | Spotify Launch from Vimeo
As a further extension of the whole idea, one Uber driver has created a series of Spotify playlists for his car, to match the passengers’ tastes!
There are 11 types of passengers, according to Uber and Lyft driver TJ Jones — and Jones has a Spotify playlist for each of them.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Technologies & Trends”:
- Real Truths On Artificial Intelligence For Content Marketer Solopreneurs!
- How To Craft Your Campaign For Multi-Screen Content Marketing!
- Clear Your Throat And Get Ready For The Voice-Search Revolution!
- Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality And Gains For Content Marketers!
- Location-Based Content Marketing: SoLoMo Factor For Solopreneurs!