The notion of connected devices acting as one ecosystem – The Internet of Things – promises to fundamentally change the way we as a society live and communicate. From a marketing perspective, this would have a huge impact on how customer journeys would look like. Whatever the future may entail, one thing is clear; Internet of Things will play a vital role in making those customer journeys more seamless than ever before. And here's how:
More opportunities to interact with the customer
With more and more devices becoming internet enabled, businesses will have more opportunities to interact directly with the customers at more places and situations than they are able to do today. This will help in identifying product and service gaps faster and in a much more non-intrusive fashion than it happens today. Imagine your mattress registering your sleep patterns and anonymously sharing it with the mattress manufacturer and other in-house devices. As a result, the manufacturer not only coming up with better designs, but also sending you recommendations to help you sleep better. It sounds creepy in today's World because of the very intrusive and one directional marketing that happens today. But as devices become more interactive, we (the consumers) will become more comfortable interacting with them just like we interact with our laptops, IPads and mobile devices.
Cross device engagement
In addition to creating more opportunities around customer interaction, Internet of Things will also help the customer by providing a better cross-device engagement. For example, continuing the mattress example, your mattress notifying rest of the connected devices when you have woken up in the morning, such as your coffee machine, which in turn would start warming up exactly half hour later because it is able to observe that pattern over time; all appliances shutting down automatically when they realize that you have left the house. This is probably a little farfetched because this kind of experience would heavily depend on the level of collaboration between various device manufacturers and the protocols they construct for seamless communication between devices. So far, marketing technologies are the worst when it comes to standardization.
Clarity around that better half
There's a common saying in marketing – we know half of our marketing works, we just don’t know which half! Connected devices could potentially bring clarity into that by non-intrusively capturing human interactions and behaviors. This would in turn help businesses in putting more focus on the marketing efforts that do work well; those efforts are always the ones that create beautiful and seamless experiences for the customer.
How you (marketers) can contribute?
The way innovation has happened in the past has rapidly changed since the advent of the Internet. It's no longer confined to closed doors and to the select few. Also the time to bring new ideas to life is reducing rapidly. As marketers, you have the opportunity to help define the standards and protocols that should be put in place as Internet of Things starts taking some real practical shape in our society. Marketing technologies have very rarely (if ever) have evolved side by side with any technological innovation; Mostly it has been a few years behind. From the creation of paper to the first paper Ad, and from the creation of the SMTP protocol to the first email marketing campaign, marketing has always been behind. And that has caused enormous overheads for marketers trying to 'fit-in' to the confines of the already defined and solidified protocols. But as marketing is evolving and merging with technology, perhaps Internet of Things will be a good opportunity to participate well in advance and incorporate the much needed marketing best practices and standards into the core design and architecture of IoT enabled devices.