Like many others lately, I have been talking about IoT “ad nauseam” since it became the high tech topic du jour. I guess I have to take some of the blame for that since I was part of the Intel marketing team that took the initiative to make the Internet of Things the foundation for making all “things” connected and intelligent. The secret to filtering through all the noise being generated is to try to determine the true merit of the particular press release, article, product announcement, or just marketing fluff being disseminated. If you are successful in discarding the immeasurable amount of chaff, you will find there really is a sizable underlying value IoT can bring to the world.
We have seen many companies and even individuals proclaim to be God’s gift to the Internet of Things as they launch products, present initiatives, and publish strategic opinions. The measure of whether they should be taken seriously is to ask, “What problem are they solving?”
An obvious problem companies have faced for years is how to get more out of their marketing dollar. In my years of looking at the potential benefits of IoT I have run across many examples where it can enhance your marketing efforts and build a stronger relationship with your customers. If you make smarter products that are intelligent and connected, they can share data with you about the purchaser, the environment they are in, and how they are being used. This information can then be used to actively market complementary products and services with the dual benefit of driving additional revenue and building a more loyal customer base.
The examples are endless, but one that comes to mind is the commercial heating and air conditioning manufacturer who builds in the intelligence to know when parts are about to fail. They can now sell guaranteed up-time service contracts to their customers at a premium price while actually saving support costs and stress on their service teams. By having early warning predictive information on impending failure, the service can be proactively scheduled during normal business hours and open times on the schedule. The three-fold return is increased revenue by selling the premium service contract, more efficient management of the service department with associated cost benefits, and greater customer loyalty by providing 100 percent up-time service.
From a more consumer-oriented example, many people are hesitant to have a connected car due to the dangers of hacking, but when we have fail-proof security the benefits are significant. Have you ever been on a remote highway and heard the “low fuel” alarm sound? Yes, it has happened to me and I am ready for the comments about “better planning,” but at that moment I was more interested in figuring out my next step. With IoT and a connected car you now have the potential for your car to communicate with gas stations in the area to determine those within range of your remaining fuel. The gas stations have the ability to do proactive smart marketing to get you into their station by offering discounts on fuel, food, or services all specific to the time of day.
You can take this one step further with personal intelligent devices that are location-aware. The ability for businesses to market directly to you while you’re walking down the street, or through a mall, will bring vast new opportunities. The Chinese restaurant you’re approaching at 11:45AM will have the ability to reach out to you with a 20 percent off discount to entice you to stop in for lunch.
Eventually, this intelligence will allow companies to collect information not only to help in smart marketing, but smart product design. When smart products can provide data on their actual use it will give designers the ability to hone in on the features of most interest to users while lowering product costs by leaving out those features not being utilized. If we stop looking at IoT as just a technology to be deployed and start looking at all the benefits it can bring, the innovative juices will be fueled to new extremes.