The fusion of the physical and digital worlds sounds more like science fiction lore than a practical business focus area. Yet regardless of its hyper-futuristic aura, the rapidly emerging Internet of Things (IoT) is anything but fictional: Intel predicts that by 2020 there will be roughly 26 smart objects per human. The phenomenon is real—and growing.

So what is it, really? The Altimeter Group defines the IoT as, “the interconnection and interaction of the digital and physical worlds, wherein uniquely identifiable embedded technology connects and integrates physical ‘things’ to information networks via existing and emerging Internet infrastructure.” Translation: the IoT is a platform for unifying people, objects, and environments under an overarching data cloud. The planet and everything on it become “things” on the IoT, each with a unique Internet address, the ability to communicate, senses and sensors, and embedded electronic circuits that make them remotely controllable. 

The immense tracking and connectivity potential of the IoT elicits simultaneous fear and excitement. The IoT presents legitimate risks in terms of hacking and privacy—what, if anything, will be sacred once everything is online? Vehicles, homes, people and nations—just to name a few—could potentially be attacked at one fell swoop. Moving forward, extensive legislation is needed to ensure that the planet does not become one precarious web of hack-able links.

As much as the IoT is cause for concern, it is also cause for celebration. Businesses have much to profit from once they engage with the burgeoning online platform. Executives, brand strategists, marketers, technologists, innovators, and internal change agents can enhance every aspect of the consumer experience by implementing sensors. Such adoption will result in enriched brand-consumer relations within the following categories:

1. Reward

2. Information and Decision-Making

3. Facilitation

4. Service

5. Innovation

By successfully integrating the IoT’s framework of connectivity, your business will intimately engage more with its target market. A comprehensive understanding of what the IoT can do for you is an essential driver for margin growth in the context of digital disruption. The team at Southcott Strategy can offer training workshops and management guidance to help your company thrive amidst the new and complex structure of cloud-based brand-consumer networking.