My first Internet experience as a consumer started in the early '90s. After a painfully technical and time-consuming connection process, I was able to show my future wife brand information about companies like Coca-Cola and ads from AT&T on Hotwired. The first companies experimenting with display ads had no idea who their users were, nor did they have analytics in place to understand their behavior. They simply sent out “public service announcements” to an Internet community with just over 30 million users.
Fast forward to present time: We will likely reach 3 billion Internet users this year. People and organizations are acquiring more and more technology to quantify every aspect of their lives and businesses. Smart devices are equipped with embedded technology to communicate, sense, and interact over the network. Internet of Things (IoT)—a network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact—just made it to the top of Gartner’s latest report on most hyped technology. The total market opportunity of over 50 billion connected devices will be over $6 trillion annually by 2025, according to McKinsey Global Institute.
Let’s start with explaining a few basics: These devices can be stationary and mobile. They can be components of industrial machines, but also highly personal and wearable physical objects. One such device got announced this week—the Apple Watch, which joins companies like Samsung, Motorola, Sony and others in this space. The trend is for technology to further support our basic needs, like health and security, or to remove friction from payment transactions. Your current smartphone is also starting to take more of a personal assistant role. Many consumers are gladly sharing information about their location and intent to get recommendations about food, the fastest route to home, happenings in the vicinity, and so on.
So, what should the marketer get prepared for?
These devices give us a range of valuable information to better understand consumer behavior. If you begin preparing, this will supercharge your addressable marketing efforts. Remember, this will be a journey, but here are some ways to get started:
- Track activity — Successful companies will need to update their data and sourcing strategy to include IoT actors. Other sources will need to collect, filter, normalize, and connect activity with marketing relevance. These can be consumer touchpoints as well as marketing events or signal producers, like cars and smart homes. This does translate to higher data volume, variety, velocity, and veracity than seen ever before. Your Big Data strategy becomes increasingly more relevant.
- Transform data into actionable insights — The marketing events from these new sources will further inform relevant marketing executions and enable strategies for measurement. Make sure you have an active dialogue with the collection and recognition teams for mutual understanding of the IoT signals.
- Measure — You need to measure CRM outcomes in terms of customer value, marketing ROI, and customer experience. The IoT provides you with new ways of metering product usage, brand interaction, and consumer behavior. These data points will help paint a more coherent picture about its contributions.