Marketing And The Internet Of Things

Michael Brenner on May 21, 2013 in Marketing Strategy

Talk about Big Data! Did you know there are already almost twice as many “things” connected on the internet than people?

And that number is projected to rise to 50 Billion connected devices by 2020. This phenomenon is called the “internet of things,” “Machine-to-Machine” or  “M2M,” communications.

And it describes the world we live in now where our devices are connected to our homes, our cars, the products we buy and the things we do. This is not a question of if but when the future of marketing will be dramatically altered by all this “big data” and connectivity.

The question for me is how big will this impact be on our businesses? How will this impact our marketing strategies and plans? Will this technology and data avalanche finally force companies to put their customers first?

The Internet of Things and Marketing

I think the Internet of things will allow us all to become smarter marketers. I do not believe it will impact only consumer-based businesses as logistics, partner ecosystems, sales relationships – all can be improved with better insights and connectivity.

Ultimately, I believe the combination of the Internet of Things along with social, web and analytics “Big Data” will allow the truly social business of the future to gain feedback and insights into our buyers unlike never before.

This trend is changing more than just marketing, it has the opportunity to change the way we design and make products, to the way we market and sell them, all the way through to the way we interact with our customers.

I have already predicted that in the future social business, the marketing nerds will win. And my last post tried to steer us away from the discussion of tools and technology to understand that this Big Data Marketing strategy is all about the questions. So here I will provide a few resources I have found to help explain the “Internet of Things” and to provide ideas on the impact it will have on our future.

What is The Internet of Things?

According to McKinsey’s report on The Internet of Things “more objects are becoming embedded with sensors and gaining the ability to communicate. The resulting information networks promise to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks.”

Dan Rowinski from ReadWrite offers this great overview of the broadest definition of the Internet of Things: what it is, how it works and Dan discusses some of the potential impacts and challenges with all this data flying around.

The Internet of Things and Advertising

Harvard Business Review talks about how the internet of things will change the way brands advertise in ways that go well beyond your milk sending you a text message from your refrigerator that it is about to expire. It talks about how this connectivity will allow brands to crowd source their advertising creative, to gain real-time feedback on their products and to literally enable brands to have an ongoing dialogue with their customers – through their products.

The Internet of Things and Branding

Walker Smith argued that the internet of things will have a huge impact on branding when he said “Advertising and strategy depend as much on on-going feedback and experimentation as creative inspiration. Breakthroughs will still come from brainstorming, but more and more of the breakouts in performance will come from the incremental accumulation of test-versus-control insights.” We are already seeing this trend dramatically impact the way companies buy media with the evolutions in programmatic media buying.

The Future of Marketing and The Internet of Things

Finally this paper from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, Center for Business Strategy claims that the Internet of Things is a “predictable surprise” that will dramatically change the way we conduct business. The author also suggests that this represents an opportunity for brand marketers to fix what is currently a broken marketing mechanism at most companies. He argues that machine-to-machine communications will allow the rest of us to personalize a customer experience the way Amazon does.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
Showing 8 comments
  • Peter Johnston

    Good article, Michael,
    Under our feet and around our heads, a whole infrastructure is developing which will be incredibly useful to us.
    It means we can actually find out what anything is doing at any moment. Our parcel or grocery delivery will be in constant contact with base, so we can practically see the truck driving towards us.
    If our machines are going wrong, the repair person knows what parts he needs.
    But it is a whole lot more. Now we can really do inventory management – every part, everywhere connected.
    We can really do process management – every task and where we lose time, where the bottlenecks are and where the waste is occurring.
    And we can really do people management too – helping everyone spend their time on what they’re good at, while taking away the mundane.

    As you say – a lot more than milk in the fridge telling you it’s off. Journalists have such poor imaginations!

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Peter, and I really appreciate your multi-channel engagement! I agree with you in that in think there are some pretty big implications to all this and I think this is one area where the change we are imagining will be bigger than the hype. I even wonder if Big Data is less interesting than the impact of the actual connections between our devices, homes, and lives?

      2020 is not that far away!


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  • Damian Corbet

    Great post, Michael – it’s time B2B companies took their heads out the sand and opened their eyes to what’s going on around them. Few enough (in my experience) understand social media let alone the Internet of Things.

    We have a lot of educating to do!

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Damian, I think the truth is undeniable and inescapable. We’ll get there, one blog post and tweet and conversation at a time.