The Internet of Things (IoT) and our responsibility as marketers.

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[1] 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.


[1] http://www.techrepublic.com

Published by cynthiaburgin

Cynthia Burgin a senior marketer with over 15 years experience in marketing and communicatons in Australia and Asia pacific markets. She has Masters of Business (Marketing) and am studying Digital Marketing and Marketing Analytics at RMIT to refresh my skills after an absence from the Industry.

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5 Comments

  1. Hey Cynthia nice blog, it’s crazy to see how many major companies have database breaches. Makes you think will there ever be a time that you can 100% guarantee the security of customers data? I reckon they need to advance security systems before proceeding further with IOT technology.

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  2. Thanks. I agree that data should be secure after collection and Analysis I believe the real growth areas will be in data security. Also give the sheer amount of data – there will be lots of work for Database Managers and Analysts. Without appropriate categorisation and analysis – there is so much data it’s like trying to drink from a fire hydrant.

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  3. Hi Cynthia, nice blog. Its amazing what technology can do today due to the Internet of Things. Everyday there are new possibilities of what technology can do and its an exciting time to be a marketer. I agree that data security and privacy is a major issue and needs to be better regulated and keep up to speed with the latest technology.

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  4. Good Blog Cynthia, I think it’s important that companies communicate efficiently with customers what there data is being used for and why. Many companies rely on customer data to make profit, being a key revenue stream. Personally if I’m using some app and they use my data, like age, how much I use the app, what I do on the app and so on, I don’t mind if they use this data for other purposes, as long as it doesn’t pose a threat to me, like identity theft or hacking but thats me personally, what about you?

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  5. I feel with all new advances in technology there is a bit of mass fear, in this case concerns that our personal information being spread everywhere. Like with the introduction of private telephones and television, in the homes, every time something new comes around people believe it is going to be a major threat to our present way of life.
    Sure catch up laws need to be made to protect us from big companies abusing our privacy. In the meantime I’m not too fussed about my data being out there.

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