Do you remember what connecting to the Internet was like in the early days? It wasn’t that long ago, even though it feels that way, that first you had to sit down at your desktop computer or nominally portable laptop, and make sure it was connected to a phone line. Then you had to make sure nobody was using the telephone. If the line was free, you could then connect and browse, very, very slowly.
The Internet and how we access it has changed dramatically since then. Your smartphone likely has nearly as much computing power as your old desktop computer, and it’s definitely got a much faster, more reliable internet connection. Your tablet, your e-reader, and maybe even your car are connected. As technology improves, more and more devices are capable of being networked.
It’s called the Internet of Things, and it’s already changing the world. You may know it as “smart” technology. Smart power grids, for example, use network capability to operate more efficiently. Of course, wherever the Internet goes, marketing is never far behind. The Internet of Things is already quite large, and its current marketing applications are still only a small slice of what will be possible in the future.
The Internet of Things and Your Business
Devices that are connected to the Internet of Things essentially have the power to communicate online. The machine-to-machine interface, through which two or more devices can exchange data with one another, is currently the most widely used type of connection. Human-to-machine networking is also possible, and has especially promising applications in healthcare.
- One of the key benefits offered by the Internet of Things is accuracy. Take car insurance, for example. Many major insurance companies now offer telematics. A networked device is connected to the driver’s vehicle, and communicates driving data to the insurance company. The insurance company is able to set the driver’s rates with far more accuracy, and the driver gets better rates as long as they drive safely.
- The Internet of Things also offers the potential for pay-as-you-go product and service offerings that weren’t possible with older technology. With a networked device, both sides of the transaction benefit. The buyer pays only for the “amount” of the product or service they’ve chosen to use, and the seller doesn’t have to worry about the billing mishaps common to less accurate pay-as-you-go setups.
- There are some integration challenges for the Internet of Things, as detailed in a recent Harvard Business Review article. Most of these challenges are similar to those faced by any type of new technology. You need to get people to use it, and help them understand why they should want it in the first place. That process will grow easier as Internet of Things technology becomes more common in everyday life.
Internet of Things Business Solutions
You don’t have to navigate the Internet of Things alone. For a while now, the big tech companies have been hard at work on business solutions for selling and utilizing networked devices. So far, most of these solutions address either of two primary concerns.
- The first concern is the technical side. This is all about making sure networked devices work effectively over the short and long term. In most cases, the networked device also needs to be user-friendly. If you’ve ever tried to network your computers at home, you know how challenging it can be to get even a few devices networking effectively.
- There’s also the practical side. How do you market it, and what should you charge? How do you sift through mountains of data efficiently? Once you have the data, how do you use it? Microsoft, for one, is working to answer some of these key questions.
It’s cliché to say that a technological innovation will change the world, but in this case it’s actually true. From the tech sector to insurance and healthcare, the Internet of Things is reshaping the way that we do business. Marketing any type of new technology comes with challenges, but it also presents a great opportunity to flex your creative muscles. Why wait? There’s no time like the present to start reaping the benefits offered by the Internet of Things.
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