The Internet of Things (IoT) describes a an emerging network of Internet-connected machines with sensors. Powered by scalable cloud-computing services, these devices are providing us with detailed data that we previously couldn’t have conveniently quantified.
You most likely have one in your pocket. Stuffed with sensors like GPS, altimeters, gyroscopes and wifi, your smartphone is capable of learning all kinds of things about you in an effort to provide you with custom suggestions, or track and quantify your activities.
Google Maps, for example, can use your GPS to guess your common home and work locations and start giving you traffic updates. Similarly, Siri will give you recommendations near your location if you ask for restaurant “near me.”
But some of the biggest benefits of the IoT will be on the business side. With the IoT, Big Data is only going to get bigger, and the potential touchpoints and specificity of the messages for each consumer will be honed and sharpened.
Take Amazon Dash Button, a small wifi-enabled device that lets you reorder things like laundry detergent at the push of a button. Several brands have partnered with Amazon to have these buttons reorder their specific products.
Amazon also offers an order subscription service that I, for one, avoid since I’m not quite sure when I’ll run out of something. With one of these buttons, Amazon could begin to learn the frequency at which I run out of detergent. One day, I may log into Amazon to see this message:
“We’ve noticed that you reorder Tide Detergent approximately once every 45 days. Would you like to set up a ‘Subscribe-and-Save’ reorder frequency for that time?”
This kind of customization is already happening, and most importantly, consumers are going to start expecting it more and more. At the same time, we’re getting more devices and more data to tell us what consumers are doing and what message will most likely resonate with them.
With devices like the Apple Watch, it’s going to be even easier to communicate with the consumer at exactly the right time.
Imagine if that subscription message came as a notification on my Apple Watch via the Amazon app, right at 8:15 PM when it determined from my GPS that I have probably been home from work long enough to get comfortable and have dinner. I might be more open to checking out their offer then.
The possibilities will be beyond even this simple example. Everyday devices are becoming “smart,” so that they can add convenience and value through contextual operation. Smart thermostats will learn when we’re home and turn down for rest of the day. Smart refrigerators will notify us when we’re out of almond milk. Smart vehicles will start up as we approach.
As more devices collect data on the way we do things, the more opportunities there are for consumers to opt-in for highly customized interactions with their favorite brands. And brands will have the opportunity—and responsibility—to provide their loyal consumers with timely communication and services that enrich and personalize their experience.