Imagine yourself controlling your living environment at home with your favorite social media chat-app or using a vending machine that can do its own inventory and remember what you last bought or offer you a product based on your Facebook likes. That technology is actually just around the corner.
Several apps and social media companies are all venturing into the “Internet of things” era and developing new services and products on top of their existing products.
According to Forbes Facebook has recently announced a partnership with Chamberlain & Roost, a smart battery company that targets the home security device market and Cisco estimates by 2020 over 50 billion objects will be connected to the internet.
Ironically, these same issues were being addressed in the mid 1990s. The Miller Group was hired by General Electric back then to support the launch of “Apartment 2000” a full scale 1150 square-foot apartment at the National Multi-Housing Council Annual Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore in 1995. It was the model apartment of the future and featured fingerprint keyless entry, automated shopping lists and interactive, intelligent entertainment centers.
Here’s some of the copy from the original invitation: “Imagine yourself in the year 2000. Your voice will adjust the lights in your home. A fingerprint will open your front door. Your water temperature will automatically be set to your liking.”
But why are the social media companies so interested in connecting us with our possessions? The possibilities for social commerce are immense. It opens up completely new location- and environment-targeted marketing possibilities but will also be an excellent source of more detailed big-data about consumer behavior. It will also connect us even more to our social media channels of choice.
But what should marketers and companies do with this new technology?
Tim Dunn from Adage sums his IoT-strategy advice up in one sentence:
“I’d prefer the best-to-market rather than first to market”. Dunn draws parallels with the shift towards mobile that has been going on since around 2008 and highlights 5 actions to take (or not to take) in this transitional phase:
1) Wait – the risks of jumping on the bandwagon are too high and especially risky with the lack of standardization between apps and devices.
2) Define your vision – Dunn argues that you can’t create an IoT strategy without also incorporating a full vision of a future customer experience. The IoT shift will likely incorporate everything from CRM to physical space and require integration between already existing channels.
3) Build your programs. Launching a new product or function to customers that aren’t already advocates is difficult when it comes to new technology. Use this time while waiting for the IoT era instead to build excellent customer programs and relations.
4) Build your infrastructure – Prepare for the new technology
5) Prove your offering – Prove that you can handle mobile, web and in-retail before going the IoT route
Voices in the industry are raising concern about privacy issues and the implications this new connectivity will have. Lawrence Ampofo of Business2Community argues that privacy won’t die, but users will simply make more nuanced and informed decisions on what information to share with devices, platforms, apps and objects.