As you sit with your cup of tea and biscuit reading this blog, more than three billion people around the world are connected to the internet via some sort of device or appliance. In fact you are probably reading this on your laptop, while simultaneously using your phone.
In fact, research firm Gartner has estimated that in the next five years there will be in excess of 20 billion devices connected to the internet, amassing to a global market value of $1.9 trillion. This abundance of connected devices has been coined the very catchy, yet seldom properly understood, term ‘Internet of Things (IoT)’. But what exactly does IoT mean? And why should we and others in PR and marketing care about it?
Simply put, IoT is the umbrella term describing the interconnectivity between electronic objects via the internet to help with the collection and distribution of data. For consumers, this could relate to any electronic device able to connect to the internet – for example, tablets, washing machines, heating systems etc. – while for businesses, the collection of data through sensors and appliances could provide important insights into their customers’ behaviour.
Despite it being round for a number of years, with various standards bodies working to enable seamless device-to-device connections in the home and beyond for 15 years now, IoT is now being lauded as the “Next Big Thing” by companies like Google and Cisco as the rate of IoT innovation begins to accelerate exponentially.
This is all very well and good but what does IoT have to do with PR and marketing and why should the industry get behind this technological craze?
The sheer number of devices predicted to be connected to the internet in the next few years will produce an overwhelming amount of raw data on almost every single aspect of our lives. This ‘Big Data’ will be produced by sensors embedded in almost everything, relaying every moment of raw data back to cloud servers to power analysis and applications.
All this means PR and marketing professionals will have access to a wealth of knowledge about their target audience that was previously hidden to them. Data collected from the IoT will be more specific to consumers and more extensive than any data currently complied and used today. PR and marketing professionals will be able to research and analyse consumer behaviour and habits to tailor campaigns to fit exactly what the consumer is looking for – or even what they didn’t know they were looking for. By analysing data provided by IoT, consumers can be targeted with subtler, more nuanced messages tailored specifically to them but which still reinforce overall brand messaging.
Live raw data automatically collected and streamed to cloud servers for analysis via sensors embedded in products has an untapped PR and marketing potential. Marketing campaigns have the opportunity to jump into the lives of their target audience by delivering language or interest-specific messages when data tells them a certain group of consumers are in a certain location. Given data could be collected almost anywhere on the planet the sources of ‘Big Data’ will become ever more far-reaching as more and more objects become connected to the IoT. This will create an even greater opportunity for PR and marketing professionals to enhance their analysis of consumer behaviour.
In order to not get left behind, PR and marketing professionals need to brush up on their tech skills and be prepared to jump straight in before the head of the curve to maximise the impact IoT could have on their clients’ campaigns.