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Trend to Watch in Marketing: Internet of Things

, December 24, 2015, 0 Comments

internet-of-things-marketexpress-inMarketing isn’t the same as it used to be. Radical changes have been brought about largely by ‘technology and connectivity’. The evolution of digital technology is fueling disruptive changes in the marketing environment. Yet, this seems to be only the tip of the iceberg. The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is rapidly becoming the most familiar expression across the business. Despite it being in a nascent stage, scientists see its uses across a wide range of industries. If a firm does not prepare itself now it stands the risk of being left behind by others.

Interestingly, more so in the present era, continuity is brought about by continuous changes. ‘Marketing is dynamic and is undergoing changes’ is an understatement. It is getting transformed by the evolution of new technologies and trends. In a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, it has been found that 80% of 478 high-level marketing executives surveyed globally, say that marketing needs to be restructured to support the business effectively. 29% believe that the need is urgent. The urgency is because today we are in the “second half of the chess board”.

The origin of the phrase is credited to Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, from a story he told about the inventor of chess and the Chinese emperor. When the emperor asked how he wants to be rewarded, the inventor said that he wished to be paid in rice; one grain on the first square, two on the second, four on the third and so on and there are only 64 squares on a chess board. During the first half of the chessboard, the inventor was given a spoon of rice, then bowl and then barrels. The magnitude of quantum changed dramatically then onwards. According to the version of the story, the cost of the second half of the chessboard bankrupted the emperor.

According to the Economist’s report, the marketers think that changes will occur in six areas:

  1. Marketing will increasingly be seen less as a cost and more as a source of revenue.
  2. Marketing will take the lead in the customer experience.
  3. Engagement is becoming paramount.
  4. The new marketer combines operational and data skills with a grasp of the big picture (and possibly working within a different organisational structure as well)
  5. Digital and data dominate investment.
  6. Two trends to watch: real-time personalised mobile and the Internet of Things.(The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2015)

Kevin Ashton, cofounder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, first mentioned the Internet of Things in a presentation he made for Procter & Gamble. About IoT, he said,

“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things — using data they gathered without any help from us — we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost”.

In other words, IoT is expected to provide connectivity of “things”; things could be devices, systems, animals and human beings that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable exchange of data with other connected things. IoT has huge potential. Depending on the domain of application, it can be broadly be classified as smart wearable, smart home, smart vehicles, smart city, smart environment and smart enterprise. Experiments are on for an internet connected ligh tbulb, door lock, clock, washing machine and ovens. There are also thoughts of designing cars that would communicate with other cars about traffic and street signal that communicate with the cars and accordingly manages signals. Field trials are already on for driverless cars.

The concept of Internet of Things is very thrilling. However, as any phenomenon, there are positive and negative sides. Though the positivity is long, the negative side also need to be taken care of (we should be aware of).  Technology influences our moral decision making, which in turn affects human agency, privacy and autonomy – writes Peter-Paul Verbeek, a professor of philosophy at University of Twente, Netherlands. He further adds that viewing technology merely as human tool is dangerous and instead should be considered as an active agent (Verbeek, 2011).

Hence, I end this write-up with the insecurities of IoT (as many have written about the benefits of IoT).

  1. Privacy: Data is collected about many online and offline activities of the users with or without his knowledge. Sometimes data are collected with the users consent. One should be aware of this activity and consent selectively. However, when data are collected without users’ knowledge or consent, there lies the danger of invading into the privacy.
  2. Anonymity: When privacy is invaded, there is less anonymity. Further, technically speaking, when data is transmitted over the internet, many platforms pay little attention to user’s anonymity.
  3. Security of Personal Data: There have been instances of data being stolen in spite of very secure protocol or atmosphere.
  4. Danger of Failure: We all know that machines can fail any time without a warning. It is more so with electronic gadgets. If we become completely dependent on computers will that augur well for us? What happens if a gadget fails? Isn’t there something lurking?
  5. Misuse of Personal Information: Assuming that the data is not stolen, what is the guarantee that the owners of the data shall not use it for their own benefit? This gives rise to the moral decision making.