The Internet of Things: Smart Devices and the Data They Provide

The number of smart devices has been steadily growing over the past years. In fact, Gartner predicts the wearable technology industry alone will hit $10 billion by 2016. But with this influx of new technology means a wave of granular data. So what does this mean for marketers?

Types of Smart Technology

In this “internet of things,” the new smart technology can mostly be segmented into two categories: wearables and smart devices.

The name “wearables” defines a category of devices that are technologically advanced and intended for wear. Examples include the beloved FitBit®, the often-mocked Google Glass™ and the upcoming Google smart contact lens, and lesser known products like the infant monitoring onesie Mimo™ and the posture improving strap Lumo™.

Smart devices on the other hand are traditional products with a digital upgrade. Think of the Honeywell® Smart Thermostat that allows you to customize the temperature in different rooms of your home from anywhere, the Sleep Number® x12 bed that monitors and reports your sleep habits, and even the mug Vessyl™ that identifies the the dietary contents of the beverage it contains, from calories to caffeine.

While they differ in usage, nearly all of these smart devices have corresponding smartphone apps that allow consumers to more easily digest the information and to interact with their smart devices.

Measurement

Although wearables and smart devices differ in how users interact with them — one is passive while the other requires active use — both collect data on a human to human level.

This deeply personal information has the potential to generate great insights into individualized customer behavior, supplementing what we can already gather from measuring consumer behavior online. However, that influx of extremely granular data is an analytics nightmare waiting to happen. Current analytic tools and analysts still struggle with the wealth information they have now. What will happen when they have access to that kind of information on a personal level? Analytics tools will have to adapt to the new style of information. While increasingly sophisticated tools will be necessary to gather and sort this data, data scientists who can tell a story with this information will be at a premium.

Marketing to Smart Technology

As marketers, what are we going to do with all this individualized information? In the not too distant future, we will be able to understand nearly every aspect of an individual’s life: what he or she needs, what he or she wants, his or her habits. Marketers can use the information provided by smart technology to cater directly to individuals. But this capability is a double-edged sword: individualized data will provide insights into current audiences while everyday habits will remain yet another variable to consider in an already complex effort to target potential customers and fans.

While technology evolves, our analytics technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Google Analytics’ Measurement Protocol, the data collection method of Universal Analytics, is one way the industry is addressing this demand. By employing the new library, we can now obtain and organize data across any device that collects information. In addition to looking at interactivity across computers and mobile devices, we can examine POS systems, car computers, smart home devices — the possibilities are endless.

With widespread acceptance of smartphones and tablets, the general public is not far from embracing the world of wearables and the “internet of things.” Although it can be daunting to know that our daily habits can tell larger stories about our consumer behavior, as marketers, we embrace micro-data at a macro scale and are looking forward to seeing how all this new data ties into our existing measurement strategies.

 

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