A week or so ago I was asked to speak at a regional event on the Internet of Things. As co-host of the Dell Luminaries podcast, I've had a ton of exposure to Edge computing and the technological innovation that's already taking shape. However, if you do a search for marketing opportunities with respect to IoT, there's honestly not a lot of discussion online. In fact, I'm disappointed since IoT will transform the relationship between the customer and the business.
Why is IoT Transformative?
There are several innovations that are coming to reality that will transform IoT:
- 5G Wireless will enable bandwidth speeds that will eliminate wired connections within the home and business. Tests have accomplished speeds over 1Gbit/s to a distance of up to 2 kilometers.
- Miniaturization of computing elements with increased computing power will make IoT devices intelligent without the need for excessive power supplies. Computers smaller than a penny can run perpetually with solar power and/or wireless charging.
- Security advancements are being embedded within the devices rather than being left up to consumers and businesses to figure out themselves.
- The cost of IoT devices are making them inexpensive. And advancements in printed circuitry will enable companies to design and manufacture their own IoT elements – enabling their use everywhere. Even printed OLED flexible displays are just around the corner – providing the means to even display messages anywhere.
So How Will This Impact Marketing?
Think about how consumers have discovered and researched products and services provided by businesses over the last one hundred years.
- The Market – A century ago, the customer only learned of a product or service directly from the person or business selling it. Marketing (thus named) was their ability to sell in the market.
- Distributed Media – As media became available, like the printing press, businesses now had an opportunity to advertise beyond their own voice – to their communities and beyond.
- Mass Media – Mass media arose, now providing businesses with the ability to reach thousands or even millions of people. Direct mail, television, radio… whomever owned the audience could command significant dollars to reach that audience. It was official, the advertising industry grew to enormous heights and profits. If businesses wished to thrive, they had to work through the paid gateways of advertisers.
- Digital Media – The Internet and social media provided a new opportunity that's chiseling away at mass media. Companies could now work on word of mouth marketing through search and social channels to build awareness and connect with targeted audiences. Of course, Google and Facebook took the opportunity to build the next profit gateways between the business and the consumer.
The New Era of Marketing: IoT
The new era of marketing is almost upon us that's more exciting than anything we've seen before. IoT will provide incredible opportunities we've never seen before – the opportunity for businesses to bypass all gateways and communicate, again, directly with prospects and customers.
Within the presentations, good friend and IoT expert John McDonald provided an incredible vision of our near future. He described todays cars and the incredible computing power they already have. If enabled, cars could communicate right now with their owners, letting them know that they were weaving and tired. Cars could tell you to take the next exit and point you to the nearest Starbucks… even order your favorite drink for you.
Let's take it a step further. What if, instead, Starbucks offered a commuter mug with IoT technology that communicated directly with your car, its global positioning, its sensors, and the commuter mug let you know your drink was ordered and to pull over at the next exit. Now, Starbucks isn't depending on a gateway to pay and communicate with the consumer, they can communicate directly with the consumer.
IoT Will Be Everywhere, In Everything
We've already seen where insurance companies offer discounts if you put a device in your car that communicates your driving patterns to the company. Let's examine more opportunities:
- Your auto insurance device communicates more effective driving directions based on your driving habits, locations to avoid hazards, or detours to help keep you safe.
- Your Amazon boxes have IoT devices that communicate directly with you to show you their location so you can meet them where they are.
- Your local home services company installs IoT devices on your home at no cost that detect storms, moisture, or even pests – providing you with an offer to get immediate service. Perhaps they even provide you an offer to refer your neighbors.
- Your child's school provides you with IoT access to the classroom to review your child's behavior, challenges, or awards. You may even be able to communicate directly with them in the event of an urgent issue.
- Your real estate agent embeds IoT devices throughout your home to provide virtual and remote tours, able to meet, greet, and answer questions with potential buyers at any time of day or night when it's convenient for both parties. Those devices are disable automatically when you're home and you provide permission on your schedule.
- Your healthcare provider delivers you internal or external sensors that you wear or digest that provide critical data back to the Doctor. This lets you avoid hospitals altogether, where there are risks of infection or illness.
- Your local farm provides IoT devices that communicate food safety issues or deliver meat, vegetables, and produce just-in-time efficiently with you. Farmers can optimize routes predict consumption without having to sell at grocery megastores at a fraction of the price. Farmers thrive and humans save on the unnecessary oil consumption of mass delivery and distribution.
Best of all, consumers will have control over our data and who can access it, how they can access it, and when they can access it. Consumers will gladly trade data when they know that data is providing value back to them and that it's handled responsibly. With IoT, businesses can build a trusted relationship with the consumer where they know their data isn't going to get sold. And the systems themselves will ensure the data is kept safe and secure. Consumers will demand both interactivity as well as compliance.
So, how about your business – how can you transform your relationship with prospects and consumers if you had a direct connection and could communicate directly with them? You better start thinking about it today… or your company may not be able to compete in the near future.