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How Internet of Things (IoT) Can Help Brands Win

Nisha Gopinath Menon
October 8, 2017

IoT the path forward & where you fit in

Most conversations around the Internet of Things (IoT) has descended into a blend of equal parts hype and reality. Hype, about the potential of billions of devices communing, paving the way for a more profitable and productive future, and the reality of slow and questionable progress. The adoption of IoT technology can provide your company with unprecedented opportunities to increase productivity, reduce operating costs and tap into new markets previously inaccessible. However, this is unlikely to happen if you let IoT data gather dust in the cloud.

Some harbor dystopian fears of a day when the IoT revolution will pave the way for hackers to take over our electronic key systems, locking us out of our homes while automotive hackers take control of our vehicles as we drive uncontrollably at 150 miles/hour on highways. In reality, it’s more an evolution than a revolution. The internet of things is merely the leveraging and development of the internet in ways that allow everyday objects, having network connectivity, to send and receive data. The Internet has always been chaotic, but the Internet of Things has increased the potential for havoc. If you're designing industrial IoT applications, you'll face significant challenges since most industrial devices have been designed to be secured by isolation. Making these systems talk to external networks, securely, can be a tricky proposition.

See the problem is we still talk of IoT in largely a technological mindset (What and how should we connect these products?) rather than a business perspective (what value will we get by connecting these products?). In the coming days, we’ll continue to see advancements in sensors, software, and technology allowing our devices to speak to one another. Brands have been looking at ways the IoT can add value to their services, but they still haven’t given thought to how the IoT will transform the way they engage with their customers. The implications for your brand are vast. You can capitalize on this by being an early adopter, taking action and implementing the technology soon. Below are mentioned few ways to showcase your brand using the Internet of Things.

1. The “Internet of Me”

Think of this technological trend as the “Internet of Me” while you’re figuring out where to incorporate the IoT experience. Use all the wealth of digital data you can collect and based on intelligence from there, strive to deliver personalized experiences at every phase of the customer’s journey with your brand. Today consumers need a sense of independence and will gravitate towards brands who value their individuality.

2. Tie it all to the customer relationship

IoT technologies are powerful because they've allowed us to tap into and personalize our relationship with the customer which wasn’t possible before. For instance, Amazon has an ecosystem of affordable connected devices. This is a continually growing ecosystem. Although the original Echo was an all-in-one solution, Amazon Tap, and the Echo Dot both build on its versatility and portability, allowing users to take Alexa on the go or hook up their own Bluetooth speakers. The smoother you make it for your consumers to plant your service or product in their lives, the more your ecosystem will grow.

Tie it all to the customer relationship

3. The data value

The business value of data is unprecedented. The IoT trend has ushered in a new age of data and information flow, continually emanating from people and devices. Make good use of the data you have now and leverage every future opportunity to understand your mobile and IoT users more deeply, and you will soon find that every time you know them a little better, you gain a distinct competitive edge in a world that is increasingly becoming, digitally connected in every instance.

On the flip side, if you’re one of those companies getting your first taste of IoT, you’ll face difficulties organizing and analyzing most of your operational data. You see most businesses collect data with the best of intentions, but it is often poorly documented and organized. In fact, it has even proved difficult to obtain or bring together data from different sources and sites for analysis. Some organizations can cleanly organize their data, but often they are uncertain how to derive real business value from the data because they lack expertise and easy to use tools. Additionally, privacy issues tend to be a hurdle in collecting and analyzing data, primarily when the collected IoT data could account as personally identifiable and sensitive information, which will be subject to different regulations, depending on the region.

We have still not truly realized the real power of IoT data. IoT will result in an extraordinary amount of external and internal data, which when sifted through, will bring you answers to questions you hadn't even realized you should be asking. As an IoT adopter, learn to look beyond connectivity when thinking about IoT and appreciate the real power of IoT data. Connectivity itself could end up being commonplace, but the return on investment for businesses and the added value to consumers will be the drivers of the industry, just like all tech trends have been in the past. The data must remain the backbone of your strategy for The Internet of Things.

4. Lay the foundation to take action

If you want to jump and capitalize on your chance to innovate, you’ll need the in-house technology and development skills in place. This means you'll have to combine mobile and cloud technology infrastructure and go entirely digital to build a new business model by connecting people, things, processes, and data to keep up with technological innovation. Moreover, consider forging out-of-the-box partnerships, prioritizing cutting-edge IT, and designing an agile infrastructure which can be scaled and adapted to your next opportunity.

5. Ease in IoT within your existing products and services

Mobile is both the foundation of IoT and the reason tech startups were able to incorporate IoT and grow so fast. If you’re looking to be the next Uber, keep your eye on the rapidly evolving landscape of mobile and IoT trends and stay ready to act when your innovation opportunity comes along. IoT has enabled a new wave of startups. In most of these cases, an IoT device is controlled by a mobile app, which has to be downloaded onto the consumer’s smartphone. The smartphone is slowly turning into the universal remote control for digital experiences. Uber’s mobile-app-driven fleet of connected cars has spread like wildfire across the globe thanks to the mobile. Fitbit looked beyond and saw an opportunity in sensors and wireless technology to revolutionize the fitness industry. Rather than directly selling a product, there’s also been a rise in companies looking to connect consumers with a service. Uber, Airbnb, and Trunk Club allow millennials to lead an asset-light life. These connections the companies have made possible, help build a sense of community while consumers feel they’re getting a service they need. These mobile and IoT-centric startups are leveraging their agility to surpass corporations that are household brand names. Fortunately, for you and I, any organization can use IoT and mobile to grow its brand. You do not need to be a startup to disrupt your industry. You just have to act like one.

6. Act like a startup

To act like a startup, you’ll have to start actively looking for opportunities to innovate at the place where the latest technological evolution and your business intersect. See, the hard part is, you have to do more than look. You have to act. Startups, in their initial stages, are focused on one thing only, growth. This singular focus emboldens them to take risks. This might not come naturally for your organization. Your enterprise might have a lot more to lose than a startup. It makes sense to be risk-averse, but don’t let it blind you to the most significant risk of all, becoming irrelevant to your consumers as smaller and bolder brands take your place.

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Nisha Gopinath Menon