How will Customer Signals Impact the Internet of Things?
David Cameron recently announced that an extra £45M will be allocated for Britain to play a big part in developing the ‘Internet of Things’.
But… What is it?
The ‘Internet of Things’ in simple terms, refers to a large-scale network of connected online devices that are able to pass data between them. We are already familiar with our phones being ‘smart’, but once our other devices catch up, the potential for generating genuinely useful information will be far higher.
In terms of scale, research firm Gartner predicts there will be nearly 26 billion devices connected to the internet of things by 2020.
But… Why does everything need to be connected to the internet?
Google Now already provides a glimpse into this concept, being able to provide timely information about your journey to work, results from your favourite sport or team, and even reminders about hotel or restaurant reservations. As the mantra goes, “the right information at just the right time”. From a search perspective, it inevitably leads to foregoing the search entirely, and data being used to anticipate what information you require before you’ve even asked for it.
Samsung’s most recent smartphone launch provides detailed apps relating to health and fitness as a key selling point, and demonstrates how our devices can help to monitor our health, activity levels and overall wellbeing. This raises the prospect of our phones or wearable devices monitoring our blood pressure, or temperature as an example, and advising us to visit our GP when necessary.
Both Apple and Android have launched in-car applications, which suggests that we will eventually receive an SMS prior to a morning commute reminding us that we will need to purchase fuel en route, or that our tyre pressure is low.
Is the application really that widespread?
What if your fridge could identify that you were running low on milk, could also identify there is a special offer on your preferred brand, and then order some for delivery at the touch of a button?
What if our health-tracking smart gadgets could recommend a weekly food shopping list and provide video tutorials on exercise regimes, based on our desire to lose weight?
What if our home boilers constantly monitored temperature, pressure and whether we were at home or not to determine being ‘on’ or ‘off’, or automatically turned off in the case of an irregularity?
What if our thermostats factored in current weather and temperature outside to continually asses the most efficient way to heat our homes?
What if roads contained sensors to monitor traffic speed and congestion to feed into our GPS devices to automatically find the quickest route?
So in short… The applications are almost endless, and are no longer the thing of science fiction. Many of the possibilities suggested above are either already available or currently in development.
What about Reviews?
Customer signals, such as browsing behaviour and user generated reviews already factor strongly into search engine algorithms, but the internet of things will make them far more powerful commercially. Reviews will play a strong role in the personalisation of recommendations, as well as developing a profile of each person as a consumer.
For many of the examples already provided, ratings and reviews could play a strong role. It is sure that any location, service or product recommended will factor in prior customer signals, whether from you, people in your ‘networks’, or other consumers into the automated decision-making or selection process.
In the desire to make automated information feasible – data, and lots of it, is required. Signals such as qualitative ratings, that provide direct, quantifiable endorsements of a particular product or service will inevitably be factored into judging what can provide value to other consumers.
Reviews and user testimonials are already a crucial component across advertising mediums. If anything, they will become more effective, with smart commodities being able to display them at the most optimum time. Marketers will likely have the opportunity to be incredibly selective with their target audience. Eg market chocolate when something sweet is taken out of the fridge, or display a local garage with good reviews to a person with a flat tyre… Real-time targeting will become an incredibly powerful call to action, and reviews from verified customers will always play a key role in influencing purchase decisions.
The impending arrival of 5G points to the direction that we are heading – we will have the ability to transfer ever-increasing amounts of data, and while smart devices communicating will factor into this, human signals such as consumer choice will play the most significant role in what they ultimately say to each other, and to us.