The Internet Of Things: How To Use Its Potential

Is IoT about to make a lot more sense for marketers? The answer is yes, according to Cameron Hulett, chief commercial officer for cloud computing firm EVRYTHNG, who will be speaking at the upcoming Adobe Summit EMEA.

The Internet Of Things: How To Use Its Potential

Is the Internet of Things (IoT) about to make a lot more sense for marketers? The answer is yes, according to Cameron Hulett, chief commercial officer for cloud computing firm EVRYTHNG, which manages the digital data for connected products.

The company has just announced a major partnership with apparel labels and tags manufacturer Avery Dennison to connect 10 billion products to the Web over the next three years, heralding a real shift in scale for the IoT.

Hulett is speaking at the upcoming Adobe Summit EMEA in a session called “Turning Your Products into a Channel of Customer Engagement: The Untapped Potential of IoT for Business.”

Speaking prior to the event, we asked him what his key message for marketers is around IoT-enabled products.

Hulett: Most people’s initial thoughts when thinking about connecting products to the Internet are about connecting cars, washing machines, fridges, and so on. But the idea of a fridge that might re-order food for you is too abstract from a marketer’s point of view, and there are not that many fridges in the world

What’s more applicable is the idea of connecting with a consumer through consumable products, such as the food and beverages you eat and drink, or the clothes you wear. There aren’t that many electronic goods in the world, but when you look at connected consumables and include wearables, then that’s the stuff that will start impacting the marketer’s view of life because of the scale and volumes. What’s the aim of the new collaboration with Avery Dennison?

Hulett: Together we are bringing a new generation of what we call “Born Digital” products into the world—these are items that are manufactured with software identities in the cloud. They use IoT data to drive personalised mobile experiences and services for customers, and more efficient supply chains for companies. This is a new era of smarter products with added software capabilities that are more intelligent, more interactive, and more valuable to consumers and brands.

For example, we can be learning about a product’s provenance, unlocking personalised loyalty rewards, or authenticating product identity for brand protection. Products can also guide consumers to the nearest recycling centres, and be scanned by recyclers to reveal their material composition for a more efficient recycling process. What types of customer engagement activities could work with connected consumables and wearables?

Hulett: Instead of going into a store and seeing an advert on TV to buy jeans, people will be able to tap their jeans to say “I want another pair of these,” or “what’s the latest fashion trends and looks that go with my jeans?” Or you could create a competition such as “if you and five of your Facebook friends ‘check in’ to your Levi’s in the next hour, you could all win tickets to Coachella [Valley Music and Arts Festival].”

A smart product provides a mechanism for engaging directly with consumers through the item itself. It becomes a consumer engagement channel just like any other channel, but the big difference is that you know the consumer has your product in their hands. The significance of this can’t be understated. Marketers usually communicate out into the wild and often have no idea if someone is a relevant consumer when encountering their messages.

When you give a product its own unique digital identity and data profile in the cloud—similar to us having our own Facebook profiles—you have the ability to track a product through its full lifecycle, from where and when it was built or made, the content of the product itself, where it was sold, how it was used, and how to dispose of it.

You would also pick up the geo-location as consumers interact with the product using smartphones, so relevant messages and applications can be adapted to an in-store purchasing behaviour, or post-purchase in the home you can provide hyper-personalised content and services.

For example, we’ve already done this with Coca-Cola, where content triggered by bottles and cans in European market changed content based on the time of day and the product location, combined with recent interaction history based on the user’s device. By delivering dynamic, “in-the-moment” personalisation, Coke created a compelling, memorable digital product experience Where are we at in terms of the speed of adoption for IoT-enabled products?

Hulett: If you’re connecting a car, the technology involved in that machine is highly sophisticated, and for appliances and electrical goods like a washing machine, you need to change the product itself to get the technology into it. But when you move into consumables and wearables with technologies like smart packaging and sensors that can piggyback on smartphone processing power and connectivity via Bluetooth or consumer scanning, the process can become much quicker.

Everyone is underestimating the speed this is going at. CES this year was a real game-changer and we saw a massive shift in the attitude and intent of brands. Last year we were talking to brands about how interesting IoT is and discussing potential pilots; this year we had brands coming in wanting to run a pilot as a minimum, and we’re now already involved in projects with smart product rollout at a global scale.

And through our partnership with Avery Dennison, we are now connecting billions of individual items to the Web, so the Age of Smart Products really is happening now and at high scale.

The technology itself ranges from fully connected embedded controllers and chips at the top end, to sensors and Bluetooth down to RFID and NFC, which is what everyone has in their phones, down to QR codes and barcodes, and image recognition.

If a CPG client wanted to connect their washing powder via image recognition or smart packaging, or an Apparel manufacturer wanted a digital label for consumers to interact with, or a washing machine manufacturer wanted to add chips and sensors to be controlled by a consumer app plus detect leaks and send alerts to call the local plumber, we can do that today. What else do marketers need to think about around IoT as an engagement channel?

Hulett: We’re seeing ecosystems being built out around brands. By that I mean companies leveraging connected IoT data to bring more personal and intelligent offers to market. The insurance industry is a good example. Some forward-thinking insurance companies are asking the policy holders whether they would like three sensors: a water detector to put under your washing machine to check if there’s a leak; a temperature sensor to put on your boiler to be notified if it’s about to burst; and the third is a movement sensor to know if someone is at home. They are also doing deals with smoke alarm device manufacturers to connect that data into their systems. Consumers are being offered discounts off their insurance premium to do this because of the huge impact in loss prevention for insurers.

That’s an ecosystem play also because when the connected system flags an issue, other companies have an opportunity to offer relevant repair services, or a new boiler, for example. That’s when the ecosystem starts getting really interesting, and it’s the kind of thing we’re already doing.

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