The Internet of Things – A Marketing Tool
“The Internet of Things” is destined to change our lives and how all the physical things within it work, if you listen to all the buzz. According to general consensus, every device will soon be connected to the internet. Apparently, this is meant to increase our productivity, provide more efficient transport and reduce our energy requirements. This is true if the technology is used for good and not evil.
Even though we haven’t reached the point where our fridges are ordering us another pint of milk yet, the phenomenon is ready to take off. The UK government recently announced it will double its current spending levels by an extra £45m on developing internet of things technology. According to an Ovum prediction, the number of global machine-to-machine connections will reach 360.9m in 2018. As more everyday devices become connected to the internet and tracked, so too will data volumes increase. How can marketers use the data to enhance the performance of their business and where should the boundaries be?
When the “Internet of Things” really takes hold, we could measure, collect and analyse an endless assortment of behavioural statistics. In theory, the compilation of and relationships between all this data could revolutionise the way products and services are marketed. The challenge for companies involved in the entire process of selling, delivering and monitoring the product, are related to their commitment to data security. Information should only be disclosed to a third party with the explicit consent of the monitored party.
It might seem like a counter-intuitive marketing strategy to omit the identity of the individuals but aggregation and anonymity could be the solution for marketers. Customers will be more comfortable to share their information if it is used to only represent a demographic and not them specifically. Companies can only, monitor, store and sell data legally without the consent of the individual(s) if the individual(s) identity remains hidden. They are breaking privacy laws otherwise.
Mobile phone network operators are using passive anonymous geolocation techniques currently. They are using existing data to better predict peak periods and future network expansion opportunities. Instead of the data being rejected after it has finished its primary function, operators are logging the data. The data can also be used by independent third party organisations, for instance, to test call dropout rates.
The information collected presents numerous opportunities to marketers. Shop and billboard owners can monitor foot traffic near their properties. They then segment the data by relevance so they can easily define where their target market has originated and its next destination. Another use for this type of data collection is to measure the reactions of people to a particular situation. Local organisations can use the data to compile a profile. An example of where this may be used is with crowed control during an emergency.
People need to be reassured that the “Internet of Things” will not create a Big Brother society. The answer lies in aggregation and anonymity. By following these principles, marketers can gain great insight into our everyday behaviours and still respect our privacy.