A Marketer’s Guide to The Internet of Things
While Anthoine agrees, saying that “data inundation is to be expected as more and more things are outfitted with IoT technology,” she stresses how crucial it is not to lose sight of data’s context. “Interpreting data requires context, and using data requires context. Because marketers can now reach out to people at any point during their day, it is important to make sure that the outreach is contextual in nature and applies to them in more ways than one.” Proper context ensures that interactions are actually welcomed by customers, rather than just annoying solicitations, and lead to engagement with the company.
IoT data provides marketers with two key opportunities, according to Carrie Chitsey, founder and CEO of BLK24, a mobile marketing and technology consulting firm. First, it empowers companies with “real-time focus groups, product feedback, and information” that can “save them millions of dollars in research and development and speed up time to market for new products.” Second, it provides companies with a wealth of sales and marketing data that can be used to enhance customer engagements.
But, Chitsey emphasizes, companies need to think about their strategy up front to make sure that sensors, mobile apps, dashboards, and products address what the consumer wants, as well as what the company is looking to get out of its focus on the IoT.
Libretto also notes how more data will lead to more opportunities for marketers. “Marketers have come to accept that increasing amounts of data is the new normal. Additional types of data, such as sensorial data generated by connected things, can be extremely powerful in adding greater context to audiences and individuals with whom brands are attempting to establish and maintain relationships,” he says. “Marketing organizations that invest in business intelligence capabilities, build out data analytics systems and practices, and can pivot their marketing approach from traditional segment-based communications to one-to-one or individually personalized customer engagement will be able to generate real value from the potential that IoT-derived data promises.”
Swift warns, though, that all of this data comes at a price: It could overwhelm both marketers and the relational database models they use. This, he says, means that “marketers must focus on partners and solutions that are built to scale for this exciting new world. Legacy systems from the early 2000s simply won’t cut it for this more progressive, data-driven world where it’s all about engaging in the moment versus 24 hours later, when the moment passes.”
Today’s marketers, he continues, need to think about setting up their businesses so that they have access to real-time consumer data and can then take action on that data just as quickly. “This doesn’t mean inundating the consumer every second of every day; rather, with machines, we can begin to use that data more intelligently to know when, where, and how we should communicate with the consumer,” he states.
HOW MARKETERS SHOULD PREPARE
Experts agree that when it comes to the IoT, organizations need to start with the data they have and establish goals at the outset. “Companies shouldn’t fall into the trap of implementing an IoT project for the sake of it because it sounds like that’s what everyone else is doing,” Gimeno-Feu says. “There needs to be a clear idea of what they want to do with the IoT. That might not be a big transformation initially, but at the start, it could simply be to understand what data currently exists within their company and how that could be put to use.”
“Evaluating the practical application of IoT technologies and the potential outcomes that can be achieved is no different than how new technology concepts have historically been adopted,” Libretto says. “A common characteristic shared by truly great organizations is their ability to leverage technological advancement to continuously improve their customer experience, hone their own operational capabilities, and rapidly adapt and evolve their business systems to realize faster time to value than their competition. The adoption of IoT technologies is likely to follow the same format.”
Organizations need to make a number of decisions before diving into the IoT, according to experts. Venugopal says that companies should “create a consolidated strategy and examine it with an open mind” to determine which things, phenomena, actions, and events, if observed and analyzed, can grow the business, either in the form of more revenue, profits, customer segments, and markets, or reduced costs and losses.