Marketing in the IoT era will be about collaborative ecosystems

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Brands need to create and be part of systems that enhance the value they provide, says Sony Mobile’s Gita Ghaemmaghami

As connectivity becomes more pervasive, going from large systems to devices to wearables and items of everyday use, it will transform everyday objects into smart gadgets that communicate with each other automatically. From smart homes to autonomous cars, the integration of connected technology in everyday life is fast becoming a reality through the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. Gartner predicts that we will be surrounded by 4.9 billion connected ‘things’ this year, rising to 25 billion by 2020. It predicts that the perfect storm of cloud, mobile, social and information – the ‘nexus of forces’ – will change the world in ways unimaginable even a few
years earlier.

Sony’s life-blogging camera, in-ear headset, projector and home hub for connected appliances work alongside smartphones and have artificial intelligence built into them as a precursor to what we are in for. We can use our various devices as a platform to launch an IoT service to businesses. But technology aside, how do hyper-connected scenarios translate into what is relevant for brands? How will marketing change in the IoT world?

The ubiquitous sharing of data presents a fantastic opportunity for marketers. Products can market themselves, order themselves and integrate into an ecosystem that will increase customer retention. The overwhelming flood of data will provide a series of opportunities to marketers including pin-point targeting and individual-relevant messaging at critical decision-making times. This will increase marketing efficiency manifold and provide a surer footing as it will reveal a clearer picture of consumers.

Marketers will be able to monitor the impact of initiatives in real time. Brands will engage consumers in new ways through conversations and suggestions as they will be able to access inventory warnings and suggest items for the shopping cart. IoT will create a new income source for device makers and a whole new marketing channel based on real-time information.

Marketers must create the right ecosystems that are in tune with their brand values and customer preferences.

So, what will separate the winning brands from the others in the IoT era? The central theme that is emerging is that we will be living in an era of competing product ecosystems that will bring together retail, entertainment, consumables and other industry sectors as one customer offering. We will move into a world where partnerships among brands will be key to enhancing the value of products and services that consumers pay for.

Sony Mobile entered this game early, buying a chipmaker that connects devices to the internet, and partnering with an autonomous driving start-up to manufacture drones. We play to our strengths, providing potential partners with state-of-the-art cameras, sensing, telecommunications and robotics technologies and aim to create our own ecosystem. We could easily provide a real-time service to a healthcare business using our range of smart bands, cloud processing and data analytics.

Collaboration with other brands, with events, with retailers and with influencers seems to be the key for marketers in the IoT era. Partnership will be the common thread that defines customer value and influences retention. What is happening in an ad-hoc way today will be enforced by IoT. This trend towards collaboration can be seized upon by marketers now. We need to talk partnerships with each other before our devices start doing the talking, for or against us.

Gita Ghaemmaghami is regional marketing communications manager at Sony Mobile

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