The IoT: A Revolution Is Under Way

Changing How Businesses, Cities and Homes Work
IT Modernization

The IoT will continue to disrupt entire industries and change how businesses, cities and homes work. For advertisers and marketers, this ubiquitous computing platform offers a greater chance to get closer to our customers and also allows us to offer personalized stories that better engage them.

Here, we present four key trends to watch:

Insights and learning, not automation

As we approach 5 billion connected devices, each sending real-time data, the ability to ingest and interpret that data will place the emphasis on robust insights and analytics on a huge scale. Quality, affordable analysis will become more important. And we’re starting to see firms respond.

One symptom is the shift in language from “automation” to “insights” and "learning.” Take, as an example, Amazon’s Echo description: “Always Getting Smarter. Echo's brain is in the cloud, running on Amazon Web Services so it continually learns and adds more functionality over time. The more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary and personal preferences.”

Furthermore, as the number and diversity of devices proliferate, platforms will have richer sources. Valuable insights about your home and life are a marked improvement from simply claiming that you can control your home from anywhere – the current benchmark for the connected home.

Services, not just things

Leaders in the space realize that the IoT is not about “things.” It is about services. Mark Kuniavsky of PARC calls the new physical objects of the IoT “service avatars,” shifting the emphasis away from “thing” and onto “service.” Simon King of IDEO describes an increased physicality to brand expression. Brand expression “lives” as service in the connected environments we are building all around us.

As the IoT matures into a robust platform for the development of new services and products, we expect to see the rise of apps and app platforms. Similar to a decade ago with smartphones, the savviest companies are already trying to offer useful services on top of their “things.” From IFTTT (which stands for “if this, then that” and is a company focused on DIY automation tools) to AT&T’s Digital Life platform, applications which link data from multiple sources and provide great additional value will propagate.

Allegiances, partners and playing well together

The inability of many devices to communicate with each other is an obstacle for their widespread adoption. And there are several solutions being pursued.

Apple’s HomeKit and HealthKit follow a model not unlike the brand’s mobile app development model. To acquire certification, your app must pass Apple’s scrutiny, thus guaranteeing high-quality and compatible apps for these connected platforms.

Furthermore, Samsung has pledged that, by 2020, every single product that it sells will be connected to the IoT (see the image below). Similarly, Nest Labs has a growing network of strategic partners with whom it is collectively building out compatibility, the resulting products of which get the “Works with Nest” certification.

Privacy

That machine learning is key to services enabled by the IoT, and that learning takes data and time (and a machine likely in the cloud), raises some privacy concerns around how collected data is used − and how the learnings are shared with others. We’ve witnessed different privacy approaches being followed.

Consumers have justifiably grown sensitive to privacy concerns. When Mattel announced that “Hello Barbie” would be recording children’s conversations and storing them online, serious concerns were raised about the product. Indeed, the voice-recognizing technology (ToyTalk) does record voice as it is necessary to learn. And Mattel clearly states, “We do not use the content of the Recordings to contact children or for advertising purposes” in its privacy policy. But it is not easy to remove suspicions.

Apple approaches this more stringently in their HomeKit connected platform. HomeKit apps must have the primary purpose of providing home automation services, must provide a privacy policy, must not use data gathered for advertising or other use-based data mining and must limit the use of data gathered to improving the user experience and/or the app’s performance in providing home automation functionality.

The varying success of these different approaches will have a big impact on the kinds of services IoT enables. How do we use machine learning to discover new things? What is the line between privacy violations and good advice from a service? How much trust do people have in the brands they are adopting and how is useful information shared back to the user inside and outside of the system? These are all significant questions that remain to be answered.

But first, how did IoT reach such a high profile? And why all the fuss? Download the full article PDF below to read more about the IoT, its trends, and exemplary developments.

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