Internet of Things: A boon for marketers

Mike O'Connell

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Image from Keoni Cabral used under CC license.

While the Internet of Things (IoT) has generated its fair share of attention in the technology and finance crowds, there’s another group that may emerge as its biggest beneficiary: marketers.

Marketers love information – and, at its core, the IoT is a big data bonanza. The sheer number of sensors that the billions of interconnected smart devices will deploy will generate reams of information that marketers can use to their advantage. After they collect all this data, marketers can synthesize it, analyze it and package it to 1) deliver products when someone’s supply runs low, and — more importantly — 2) create better experiences along the customer journey

Already, we’re seeing IoT successes in products ranging from workout gear to home thermostats to lighting systems to automobiles. Nest’s home thermostats track the temperatures you set the device to at certain times of day and create a temperature profile based on your preferences and energy management best practices. Smart watch apps track your athletic performance and suggest changes in your workout routines to optimize health. 

As the market grows, these kinds of applications will proliferate. A recent IDC report projects spending on IoT will nearly triple over five years, from $650 billion to $1.7 trillion in 2020. Other reports envision between 38 billion and 50 billion devices hooking into the IoT by 2020, generating $8 trillion to $11 trillion in annual value.

Imagine how marketers can put IoT data to work in the future. As CMO.com wrote a little while back, beverage companies could enable connected fountain machines and adjust marketing and sales to fit constantly-changing behaviors and conditions, including temperature. A connected refrigerator could send an alert when it’s time to replace a water filter, and the alert could pop up on your smartphone when you pass a store that sells the filter.

“The Internet of Things represents an enormous, disruptive wave that is potentially bigger in impact than mobile technology and social media alone,” Andy Hobsbawm, co-founder and CMO of UK marketing firm EVRYTHNG, told CMO.com. “At some point, the IoT will connect virtually every physical object to the online world. It will create new services and lead to more personalized relationships.”

That day may be a little ways away. But it’s coming. Judging by the popularity of IoT-related conferences such as the IoT Evolution Expo (Aug. 17-20, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas) and the Internet of Things Summit (this past May in Boston), marketers are gearing up for a fun ride.

We’ll follow up with a look at some challenges marketers need to overcome to take full advantage of the promise of IoT.

What do you think of IoT? Is it having an impact on your business?

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