The Internet of Things, or IoT, refers to the billions of physical devices around the world that are now connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data.
The falling costs of sensors and microprocessors coupled with an increase of wireless networks, has made it possible to turn anything, from a pill, to a smart watch to a self-driving vehicle into part of the IoT (ZDNet.com).
The early innovators and largest users of such devices have traditionally been in manufacturing and logistics – where devices can as simple as tracking where and how much stock is in inventory to being as sophisticated such that it can predict when a part may require changing, enabling real time data to be communicated without human intervention.
As the prices of devices continues to fall, organisations are using them more and more in consumer products and services– such as wearable devices,well home management systems like Alexa or Google home, Google glasses and other devices.
This data, in conjunction to other internet based sources such as social network platforms (Facebook), blogs, and miniblogs (eg Twitter) captures a very rich tapestry of information on our prospective customers.
The increasing proliferation of IoTs has been a source of an enormous amount of data s known as Big Data.
All of this has made it a very exciting time to be a marketer. Never before has there been so much data available about our customers or prospective customers. Artificial intelligence has been developed to predict consumer preferences purchases. Actual behaviours can be tracked, recorded and used to improve the quality and relevance of new products in the market. We can actually witness actual customer behaviour, and predict future actions based on currently obtained data. We have never had so much information on so many people in the history of marketing. However, before charging ahead with this information at hand, I there are two factors that must remain integral in the collecting, analysing and using of this data – and these are security of information and privacy of individuals.
Recent database breaches at Facebook, Sony, and Australian Government websites have highlighted just how vulnerable even the largest organisations can be. Security of information must remain a primary objective, or customer trust will be lost. So far, I don’t believe that businesses have been successful at guaranteeing security of data, therefore it is our obligation to ensure that consumers are provided with privacy.
And the second issue is privacy.
The IoT, Big Data and AI has been advancing much faster than legislation can keep up. Some practices which may be deemed unethical are not necessarily illegal as there is a lag between innovation and regulation.
Additionally, consumers are already weary of data collected on them and analysed through Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to a Genpact Report 2017 of a study conducted in the UK, USA and Australia:
- 71% of consumers fear AI will infringe on their personal privacy in some way.
- 63% of consumer are worried AI will make impactful choices without them knowing.
- 59% think their government should do more to ensure their data is protected from AI.
It is our jobs as Marketers to maintain the privacy of our customers and use data in ethical and positive ways.
So while there is great
opportunity for marketers to adapt in real time to consumer behaviours and
sentiments, there is also a great responsibility on us that we maintain the
trust and confidence of our customers.