What I talk about, when I talk about IoT
Cameron Worth, Founder of UK’s first Internet of Things agency SharpEnd, explains why there’s huge value in brands merging their consumer touchpoints with IoT.
The term ‘Internet of Things’ is a one-size fits no-one term, it means something different to everyone. If you read the media, you’ll see forecast analysts impressively waving large financial figures about the future economic impact of the IoT space within the B2B world. There are also predictions about the impact of IoT on packaging, fulfilment, shipping operations, reducing the margins for human error, increasing the pace of production and distribution on an industrial scale. Which, if that’s your thing, is pretty cool but it’s also pretty bemusing if you don’t know what IoT is in the first place.
For me, what is actually interesting (and what is wildly ignored) is the huge potential for consumer touch points and how they can really deliver value to brands that are bold enough to embrace this space. Take a brand like Absolut, whom we work with, they sell 100 million bottles worldwide in a year – so just imagine the executional possibilities and large amounts of data on consumer behaviour we could learn if all the touchpoints were effectively activated within the IoT space. Each bottle driving localised experiences at scale and becoming an entirely new channel.
Along with AI, IoT is set to be one of the most disruptive and innovative categories for businesses and to future proof themselves, brands need to be looking at how they can work for them to ensure they are not left behind. Specifically, they need to look at how to apply IoT within these three touch points:
- New products
- New services
- New experiences
In the last decade Web 2.0 and social media agencies have been directing the digital landscape and every ten to twelves years there is a digital marketing shift. Now we are thinking beyond the mobile phone screen and thinking about the real world as the next platform, which we call Web 3.0, which is for us, where the Internet of Things kicks in.
It’s a real bugbear for me that most of the IoT trials to date have been generated to create a brash PR stunt that does nothing for the consumer and is a poor brand narrative. We get excited by how brands can service better and shout less. We start by asking questions like, how can we make this product more exciting? How can we be more valuable? How can we deliver more service in a connected home reducing the need to advertise at people across every screen they own?
To do this, there isn’t a room of suits sat making a decision at a boardroom table – we are actually speaking to humans and getting physical prototypes in front of them to trial. With many of our clients, we create innovation labs to recreate a real-life scenario and come up with real test and learn products. In the case of the Absolut bottle, this involves a lot of collaboration between departments such as packaging, trade marketing, operations and digital innovation.
For the last few months, we have been working with The Absolut Company and their innovation lab (that we helped build) in Stockholm to test out different uses for connected products (not just bottles). Off the back of this we have developed our first major consumer trial across the UK, launching to the public in the coming months but we’ll tell you more about that next time…