Dean Taylor
Dean Taylor 8 January 2018

The Internet of Things is about to become real

In 2018, the Internet of Things is about to become real, creating new possibilities in creativity, measurement and brand experience

US department store mogul John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922) famously stated: Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half. He is also known to have the mantra: What gets measured, gets done. 

By the year 2020, there will be more than 26 billion connected devices, which is double the number of tablets, smartphones, and PCs combined. From an evolution point of view this provides unprecedented access to customers and more data generation than ever. Today, Mr Wanamaker would be in his element but would now face the same challenge as the rest of us - how do we use this as a force for good and truly improve the consumer experience?

Firstly, there is going to be a shift. Some people will still try and go off the grid, living in tents in forests, wearing tin foil hats and communicating by carrier pigeon because of the fear of relentless tracking and bombardment by brands. But for most people, they will want more of their devices speaking to each other and, as a result, collecting massive amounts of data about their lives.

The reality is we are all being squashed for time and we can’t escape the world of big data given its happening. But how do we make it work for us to drive convenience? And for marketers, it’s this demand for convenience that will transform how we create truly brilliant consumer experiences. We have always had big data – the difference now is that rather than this being rear view mirror stuff, it can be used for real time changes and enhancements.

At its most basic level and the area where we will probably see earliest adoption is in travel. From airlines to hotels, the IoT will help speed up check in and remember and predict what people like. Forget big data, its sometimes the “little data” about how many pillows you want or room temperature or the time of your wake-up calls that make a truly brilliant stay. Thanks to your connected smartphone, from the moment you check-in on your mobile and it becomes your room key to the minute you open the mini bar, the IoT can help to provide you with a personalised experience based on what they know you like. Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta recently took the stage at a conference to communicate their vision on Hilton’s “Connected Room.”

“Imagine a world where the room knows you, and you know your room. Imagine a world where you walk in, the TV says, ‘How are you doing, John? Nice to see you,’ and all of your stuff is preloaded and not only preloaded, but the only thing you ever need to touch to control in the room is in the palm of your hand.” And as well as this being a good thing for consumers, this is also a brilliant thing for the companies. They will start to know what they need which drives efficiency. They will also be able to drive the Holy Grail and keep people loyal for longer. ”

And it’s not just for the lucky travelers. If like me you have ever tried to do a weekly shop in the supermarket with kids, you realise that some of the aisles are set up to make you fail. Often as I get to the finish line and load up the conveyor belt (and find a selection of random items sneaked in from children playing their very own version of Supermarket sweep) I pray for the day the IoT can help me. Imagine if based on the supermarkets’ rewards program data, they can provide me with the most efficient route in the store based on my online shopping history. Not only could it route the best path through a store based on historical buying patterns, but it could use my movement data to spot where I suddenly speed up and turn into a Formula 1 shopper. It could avoid kid catnip items and identify them as pain points for shopping parents and redesign the product displays putting certain items above kid’s eye line’s which in turn helps the stores because it avoids me having to ditch a load of random items at the check-out.

Data could also help me in the car journey home from the Supermarket. Imagine if my premium Spotify account is linked up and based on knowing how stressed the Supermarket experience can be, so automatically plays songs to placate and distract the kids who lost out on their supermarket contraband.

The other big benefit of the IoT and integration across devices and platforms is that as well as creating more personalized experiences, brands will build deeper and more authentic engagement and we will finally have a solution to the age old British curse of not wanting to complain.

According to the Huffington Post a third of Brits who experience a problem with public services don't complain, with most not doing it because they think it is not worth the effort or they are confused about which Ombudsman to turn to or (like me) they are just a bit embarrassed. Well in an age of IoT I won’t need to say anything. If in the future I am driving my Tesla car and I am suddenly over revving or changing the way I drive needing more power, they will be able to analyse the data, spot the problem and make the fix or upgrade overnight when I sleep rather than me having to say anything. If I am at a gig or having a meal in a restaurant and fill in the survey, rather than something happening a few weeks later, they will know where I am sitting because of my mobile phone and be able to quickly route the feedback to the appropriate manager who can respond and resolve the issue whilst I am in the restaurant. And if I am in an experience and not enjoying it as much as usual, the IoT can help recognise this from face recognition and elements can be changed to enhance my enjoyment from the soundtracks to the mood lighting.

Ultimately the brave new World offers us the chance as consumers and marketers’ to genuinely improve our experiences through more sophisticated tech, but more importantly through a better understanding of what consumers do rather than just what they say. 

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