The Internet of Me

The Internet of Me

This article previously appeared on CMO.com.

Imagine what a young family will look like in five years. On the surface, odds are not a lot will change. They will still live in a house, cook dinner and take care of the kids. And, yet, a revolution will have taken place.

Their garden will be monitored by a smart system to ensure optimum plant growth. The kids’ soccer ball will track speed, spin, flight path and kick data that it will send over Bluetooth. The headphones mom wears during her run will act as a coach, capturing key biometric data. The stovetop will give the parents recommendations about what to cook based on the freshness of the ingredients in the fridge. And the baby monitor will recommend the optimum sleeping conditions for the youngest.

Will this really happen in the number of years we can count on one hand? Easily. The technology exists today and, for example, was showcased at this year’s CES convention—the Edyn Garden Sensor and Water Valve, the Adidas Smart BallThe Dash headphones by Bragi, the Whirlpool smart kitchen, and the Sproutling Baby Monitor, among others.

This is the much-touted Internet of Things (IoT), which has generated a lot of buzz over the past few years. Sources of content and data that never existed before are now appearing and becoming connected to one another every day. By 2020, 57,000 new “things” will be added to the Internet every second.

But soon the notion of “things” will be outpaced by the rapid rise of personalized ecosystems of connected devices and content. At Adobe Summit this year, I postulated that the real future state—the promise of all of this data and innovation—is an Internet of Me.

I was particularly captured by a Wired article that compared the Internet of Me to a fingerprint—something unique and personal. While that’s true, I think the analogy falls short of what the Internet of Me really promises: an integrated ecosystem of hyperpersonalized data, content and devices that redefine everything about how we touch and interact with our world.

Hyperpersonalization In Play
A world in which 57,000 devices are added to the Internet every second is only valuable if those devices are learning about my life and working together to create experiences I need. As IoT technology becomes more integrated, it should actually become irrelevant as the experience becomes more cohesive and hyperpersonalized—creating our desired state of the Internet of Me. My devices should know me, be aware of each other, and share data to make every experience simpler, more valuable, and more informed than the last.

Take the Phoenician Resort, an SPG Hotel, for example. It showcased some amazing technology integrations this year at Adobe Summit. When you enter the hotel, the reservation system connects with your device, checking you in and confirming your stay. You then go to your room, using your device to unlock the door. Before you step in, the room has already adjusted the lighting, music and content on the TV based on the integrated network of data your Internet of Me is sharing with the environment.

Consumers don’t want an Internet of 1,000 devices with disparate content—they want an Internet of Me. As is clear in the example of the Phoenician Resort, powerful consumer experiences can be created with the emerging data landscape we’re about to enter, and in this new landscape, nothing but complete integration and connection to “me” will suffice. These kinds of innovations are creating a whole new definition of the consumer experience. Marketers have to be prepared to take all of the data that comes from an aware environment and drive hyperpersonalization.

The Deep End Of Data
Right now we’re standing in the shallow end of the data pool—but we’re quickly going to be pushed into the deep end as the Internet of Me becomes the world’s largest device market. Products and systems that were never connected before will suddenly be constantly sending signals—signals that will demand action. The Internet of Me will be larger than the PC, tablet and smartphone markets combined by 2020, and the exabytes of data generated globally will quadruple.

For marketers, this means not only will there be higher demand to capture, analyze and act on data for our consumers, but the kinds of data we must be attuned to will fundamentally change to include more sources than we could have ever imagined a decade ago.

With all of these new sources of information, it is more important than ever to separate the signal from the noise in order to create a seamless and relevant customer experience. During the customer panel I led on IoT at Adobe Summit, an executive from Under Armour described the company’s efforts to compile health and fitness data from customers, creating the world’s largest connected platform (120 million users) into what they call the UA Record, a master customer profile. The incredible thing about this $700 million investment into technology is not the hardware Under Armour received through acquisition. In fact, it is quite the opposite: Under Armour wants to own the customer experience by bringing together all of the data that drives the UA Record. And, as hardware becomes antiquated, it wants to be the pervasive and persistent force that continues to connect users to its fitness and health ambitions through that single record.

This is the kind of innovation around IoT that will bring the Internet of Me to life—innovation that focuses on the value of more signals rather than the value of more devices. And that requires marketers to develop an entirely new playbook.

The New Reality For Brands
It’s getting harder to tell where marketing begins and ends in a world moving toward the Internet of Me. Marketing data and enterprise data are merging in new, exciting, and challenging ways. This is uncharted territory we must figure out how to navigate. Consumers expect brands to know, respect and interact with them just as consistently in the offline world as the digital world. They want continuous experiences created specifically for them and at the absolute right moment, whether browsing apps at home or strolling aisles in the store. This is a shift that will enable brands to go much deeper, to be where the customer is truly experiencing the brand, extending marketing reach to previously inaccessible areas of the customer journey.

So how do we, as marketers, respond to this growing swell of consumer demands? Some of it we are already observing. We are seeing sweeping shifts in how brands have and will define themselves in this era of pervasive data. Like Under Armour, brands are thinking more like technology companies—and that means marketers need to think more like technologists than they ever have. Marketers will own everything from the app to the in-store experience, with everything in-between representing a marketing touch point to your customer. Brands need to be ready to capture the right data and use it to create hyperpersonalized experiences. And they need to think about these experiences with less attention to the short-term value of hardware and devices, and more a perpetual, seamless consumer experience focus that will transcend device, OS, or carrier.

Just think again of that young family in a few years. The headphones, the cooking surface, and the baby monitor all should be working on their behalf to provide more of the commodity that matters most: time—time to truly appreciate the experience all of that technology enables, even though they’ll never have to actually think about that technology. That’s what we, as marketers, must focus on if we want to make our brands relevant in the Internet of Me.

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