Are we equipped to harness the power of IOT? – By Wavemaker’s Julien Trad

Julien Trad is regional media director, Huawei, at Wavemaker

They said: One day, your fridge will order food for you. That day is here. What’s next?

Every aspect of our existence is connected to technology, and it is generating a big load of data. Will  the interconnectivity of our digital devices provide opportunities for brands to listen, analyse and react to the needs of their consumers?

Perceptibly, yes. However, the main obstacle is the optimal use of internet of things (IoT) through the right messaging, the appropriate timing, the accurate location and, most recently, the correct device.

The UAE tops world rankings of connected consumers. The infrastructure of the country has paved the way for an improved lifestyle reliant on connected devices.

From a brand perspective, tech giants are continuing to focus more on wearables for consumers to stay connected. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer division, says: “For consumers, having access and storage of personal data and records will make wearable devices one of the most important industry developments in the advent of big data and cloud technologies”.

With consumers becoming more connected and an abundance of shared critical personal data, how will privacy concerns be addressed and managed? The IoT will ultimately include billions of interconnected devices. All these devices will communicate, exchange data and perform carefully synchronised tasks. And they must do so without foregoing performance or security. While the IoT is producing a lot of data, many experts believe that it is not possible to monitor it all. They also tend to agree that data-points collection is increasingly becoming a challenge for agencies, advertisers and publishers as the role of regulators is growing and governments are strengthening data protection laws, enabling consumers to decide how their data is stored and used.

Considering the increased privacy constraints, what would the role of IoT in digital marketing be, especially in hyper-connected economies like the UAE?

There are three actions we can take in the hope of finding possible solutions:

1. Local research companies need activate AI to process the massive amount of data collected: By now, it’s no secret that the use of customer data should raise privacy concerns, which are only becoming more important with time. Big data analytics are evolving. However, regulations are restricting how much is accessible to research companies, and ultimately digital marketers. On one hand, with the IoT, market research will get access to an abundant data mine, unveiling new insights and prospects. On the other hand, very few or even none of the regional market research companies are using it. This surge in data should enable us to streamline our processes and reach our target audience in new ways. Unfortunately, it is not the case.

2. Social platforms are powerful research tools, so make use of them: Facebook is collecting data points. Most of our daily IoT devices are infused withFacebook-enabled apps that transfer these data points to Facebook’s massive analytics machine. Yes, it’s hashed, not once but twice. It’s driving more effective campaigns at the most efficient costs. So, is Facebook becoming our go-to research tool? After all, don’t we all rely first on Facebook to understand our audience in real-time?

3. Pair IoT data with your CRM: IoT allows for more constant user experiences. When smart devices begin to break down or do not perform according to expectations, that information is fed back to the tech company, providing it with an opportunity for instant improvement and modification. If companies are willing to pair smart devices with sophisticated CRM software, they will not only benefit from being able to rectify the problems in real-time but will also allow media agencies to make more informed decisions and deliver better personalised communications to their customer base.

IoT doesn’t access only information that a user decides to share publicly on social media, but also information about their day-to-day lifestyle. As digital marketers, accessing this type of data means that we can see when, how and why a product is being used. Those of us who take full advantage of this treasure of information will gain a tactical advantage over competitors. However, as marketers, we are faced with an ethical and moral concern: the privacy of our consumers. The major challenge we will have to overcome in the near future is how to harness all this newly generated data and develop personalised experiences without being perceived as intrusive. Only then will we be able to unlock the full potential of IoT.

Will data privacy be the last wall to break to ensure the further advancement of digital marketing?