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Progress and profit from the Internet of Things

Recent research from the Economist Intelligence Unit reveals that the Internet of Things (IoT) is the top trend senior marketers believe will have the biggest impact on them by 2020, with the industry forecast to be worth over $4 trillion by 2024. With billions upon billions of consumer products manufactured and sold each year, and almost anything capable of being connected to the net and each other, IoT will provide marketers with a new set of opportunities and challenges when offering deals and promotions to their target audiences.  

Whilst the number of connected devices has increased, so too has the components needed to sift through the growing volumes of data being generated. Marketers must now oversee this collection, collaborating alongside the IT team to do this effectively. They should understand the importance of a flexible and agile computing infrastructure, combining the right data and cloud solutions to speed up analysis and deliver the right results.

The opportunities of IoT for marketers

Combined with the machine learning algorithms, these developments are transforming customer experiences, in turn, creating new revenue streams for marketers.

As devices become more and more connected, marketers will be able to get closer to their customers and deliver more personalised and engaging experiences and there are countless examples of the IoT being used in real-life marketing scenarios today. Beacon technology for example, is being used to alert businesses when a potential customer is within a set distance. This enables offers specifically targeted at that individual to be pushed to their smart device, encouraging them to visit the store and make a purchase.

Within retail, connecting back-office systems and linking inventory on the shop floor to the store room can be streamlined with IoT technologies, increasing the visibility of stock and resulting in improved worker productivity and consumer satisfaction. Digital tags, in-store sensors and RFID chips have been trialled by retail giants Walmart and Tesco to improve automation and enable managers to see if a wrong item has been placed in the wrong aisle or when a product has sold out, therefore providing a better experience for shoppers.

Data is also proving to be something of a game-changer in marketing. For example, mobile network operators are already taking advantage of consumer data to map footfall in specific areas. In time, this incredibly valuable information could be used to predict future scenarios and send personalised offers to target audiences as a result.

No marketer can afford to be working in a “disconnected world” any longer. So what are the key considerations for them to get to grips with when deploying IoT to improve customer service?

More intelligent customer analysis 

IoT will be able to both aggregate and analyse customer data from the trillions of consumer touch points, providing marketers with more in-depth and accurate user profiles. This is will be invaluable for marketers – if handled correctly, it could help them to understand their target audiences’ buying behaviours and at what point they are in the sales process. This insight will enable them to offer the right products and services at the right time, and provide an appropriate solution or response to a query that will ultimately ensure a sale is completed.


Data protection, privacy and security often come top of the list for those with concerns around IoT. Providing customers with an understanding of where and what data is stored about them would help to mitigate these concerns.

 The Third Platform

Of course, IoT is nothing without the technology pillars of the so-called “Third Platform” - cloud services, big data and analytics, mobile computing and social networking. It needs the cloud’s elasticity to scale to the billions of devices and sensors in the world. Without big data technologies, we can’t access all of the data and build the insights we need to understand our customers’ needs in enough detail. Mobile is required in order for devices to connect to telephone networks to share their data.

The future of IoT in business

Today, we are only scratching the surface of what is possible for IoT. In the near future, every device we own will have some form of connectivity in order to enhance its capability and the service it can offer the consumer. Once we overcome the cautionary approach that some people take to using cloud-based services and data analysis, nothing will be impossible.