The Internet of Things (IoT) is all the rage. According to a survey by Economist Intelligence Unit, over half of senior marketers believe that by 2020, the IoT is the technology-related trend that will make the greatest impact on marketing. That’s a bold statement, for sure.
But what does IoT really mean? According to Wikipedia:
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.
Given this definition, it’s no surprise that IoT remains shrouded in mystery for most marketers. Marketers place customers at the center of their universe, not objects. They’re asking, “What impact will the IoT have on my customers, and how it will enable me to drive greater loyalty, retention, and revenue for my organization?”
Help from a surprising source
Inadvertently, a friend helped me answer this question when we met for lunch last weekend. She shared her struggle with getting her two-year-old son, James, to bed each night. Tired and frustrated, she bought a Philips Hue smart light bulb, downloaded the accompanying smartphone app, and used the app to gradually dim the connected light bulb in the evening. Essentially, she created a consistent message to her two-year-old that said, “It’s bedtime, James.”
The results? A happier child, a less stressful mom, and a loyal customer for Philips.
From the marketer’s perspective, at the center of this story lies a two-year-old boy and a tired mom, not a “network of physical objects” or a tech-savvy marketing colleague experimenting with technology involving smart light bulbs. For marketers, it’s not about the “things” of the IoT, it’s about the customer experiences with those things.
The IoT has the power to impact traditional consumer behavior, buying patterns, and brand loyalty. I believe that it will transform digital marketing teams in three key ways:
- The emergence of hyper-rich customer profiles
Today we know how a customer interacts with us online. Tomorrow we will know what role our products and brands plays in the customer’s life. Traditional digital channels combined with wearables, connected products, and sensors will enable marketing teams to create a 360-degree view of each customer. We’ll understand things like their temperature preferences, their heart rate, and their workout, sleep, and even driving habits.
Here’s a great example of how Hyundai enriches the profiles of its customers with its Blue Link system:
Blue Link connects Hyundai cars to the Internet and collects vehicle health data for the car owners. Customers can use Blue Link to stay updated on the overall health of their vehicles, receive alerts of urgent issues, and get notified about key vehicle service dates.
The vehicle health data also gives marketing teams key insights into when customers might be best prompted to purchase a new Hyundai. In addition, as Michael Deitz of Hyundai, Senior Manager, Connected Car at Hyundai explains, “It’s about staying top of mind with the customer, so that when it’s time for maintenance they say, ‘I’m going to go to Hyundai because I’m going to get the most qualified technician.’”
- Traditional channel-centric approach shifts to true customer-centric approach
We often hear the term “explosion of channels” as people refer to the growth of mobile devices, smart-watches, and other popular devices. In reality, this explosion has only just begun. While traditional channels like web and mobile will remain king in the short term, new channels will creep in and consume a bigger slice of the marketing mindshare. High value-add connection points will create massive opportunities for marketers. A defined channel-centric approach will shift from being merely difficult to just plain impossible.
Take Samsung, for example:
The Samsung SmartFridge made big waves at CES this year. The large touchscreen on the fridge provides a place for families to share calendars, notes, and photos. With in-fridge camera technology, marketers could know what’s in the fridge (or more importantly what’s not), and deliver useful content through the screen like recommended recipes based on what’s actually in the fridge and highly tailored coupons.
Imagine the fridge being one of several dozen “new channels,” and you quickly see why teams will need to organize around the customer, not the channel, once and for all.
- Personalization turns experiential
Digital marketers talk about personalizing digital experiences—on web, mobile, and other online channels. So far, marketers can only personalize content that customers can experience on a screen. This is changing. In the future, personalization will evolve into true experiences that touch a customer in ways they feel in their everyday lives.
Let’s think back to the new parent example and imagine this:
Anyone who has had a newborn knows that sleep is critical to your baby’s health. You lose sleep worrying about your baby’s well-being when he or she is supposed to be sleeping, tracking sleep patterns, and watching for fevers and stuffy noses. In comes the smart baby monitor (http://mimobaby.com/). As a parent, I now have this data, but can also quickly connect it to an expert who can give me real-time advice on my child’s sleep patterns. I can additionally leverage the data to automatically adjust, or personalize, the lighting and temperature in the room to help my child sleep better.
Now you don’t just see the experiences—you feel the experiences. For the customer, all this adds tremendous value. It also creates new business opportunities for an organization.
These themes will create a new era for marketers—an era of extreme flexibility.
In this new era for marketing in the IoT, data flows in from different sources, personalized experiences are delivered everywhere and anywhere, and the ability to envision and deliver on new business opportunities becomes a necessity. Personalization becomes more complex, more unpredictable, and more personal. Silos within organizations break down to tackle the new world.
Forget the definition that I shared at the beginning of this post. Here’s how marketers should be thinking about IoT:
The Internet of Things is a means by which we better understand and connect to our customer to provide hyper-relevant experiences. These experiences improve their quality of life, reach them wherever they are, and create new business opportunities for our organization.
Get prepared: attend Adobe Summit Hands-on Lab L321
Do you want to prepare for this new era of flexibility? If so, join us at Adobe Summit for Hands-on Lab L321: Target everywhere: Power experiences across IoT using Adobe Target APIs. In this lab, we’ll show you how to leverage Adobe Target and a comprehensive set of APIs to bring data into Adobe Target from anywhere, personalize based on that data (even experientially personalize), and deliver that personalization to any connected device.
If you’re a developer or technical marketer interested in IoT, want to get familiar with the Adobe Target APIs, or simply need to know how to get started using those APIs to personalize in the IoT, then is a must-attend lab for you.