This was first published in #TheFutureByDesign. Click here to download the publication with insights from leading marketing, creative and advertising minds.
It’s more than a buzzword — the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to change the way humans interact with their world in the next few years, and the effects will be far-reaching. Most pundits admit that we still haven’t scratched the surface of what’s possible, but one thing’s for sure: it’s going to reach every aspect of our everyday lives.
For marketers, the question is: how can I use IoT to my brand’s best advantage? Future by Design asked Simon Dingle for some answers.
#TheFutureByDesign: What is the “Internet of Things”?
Simon Dingle: This is industry jargon for the web of interconnected devices that are increasingly coming online. The idea is that everything in the world around us can be connected to the internet for automation and other tasks. Your car booking itself in for a service or your fridge telling you when the milk is off are two popular examples. Self-driving cars and autonomous drones are the more recent and interesting trends that fall within this domain.
#TheFutureByDesign: What do brands need to know about The Internet of Things?
Simon Dingle: That it’s happening a lot slower than some analysts and vendors would have you believe. There are very cool things becoming possible thanks to technologies like Arduino and Raspberry Pi that make it cheap and relatively easy to connect anything from pot-plants to washing machines to the internet, but the real value for consumers isn’t quite there yet. Automated home solutions are still quite expensive and a lack of standards means that the ‘things’ on the internet don’t always speak the same language, so to speak. The things are online, but they need to become a lot smarter.
#TheFutureByDesign: How will the Internet of Things change the way people experience brands?
Simon Dingle: As with all disruptive technologies, people will expect more from the companies they deal with. The brands at the forefront of these technologies use contextual computing to understand exactly who they are dealing with and don’t think of the market in terms of old school “segments” anymore. They know exactly who their customers are, by name. So if a car is able to book itself in for a service, complete with the ability to check its owner’s diary for the best time to do it, the service centres that don’t accommodate this will soon be out of business, like traditional taxi companies trying to compete with Uber.
#TheFutureByDesign: What is your advice to brand owners about how technology will change what they do in the future?
Simon Dingle: It’s trendy for businesses to describe themselves as “customer-centric” but in many cases this is just talk. To be truly customer-centric means having empathy for the people you serve and to adopt a new understanding of your business as an experience, which is profoundly unlike the mentality businesses had until fairly recently. When we look at the companies currently shaking things up — think Uber, Google and Tesla — it looks like smart technology is the key to their success, but really it’s a lot more than that. The technology is the easy bit; designing experiences that blow people away is where the magic lives.
Simon Dingle is a designer, writer and podcaster based in Cape Town. He is currently working with BitX on its web and mobile products, hosts (tech)5 on 5FM, co-hosts Take Back the Day and is an advisor to 22seven.