My Toaster’s Telling Me I’m Fat: Will the I.o.T bring too much data?

Andrew Stockwell | Client Director

We love hype in digital, especially when it’s regarding small shiny objects which connect to the internet, but do we really want our toasters tracking our breakfast habits, talking to our bathroom scales and asking if we really want that second piece of toast?* Today’s concept of big data is a drop in the ocean if we multiply the number of connected devices by 2 or 6… or 20! If this is the data explosion the Internet of Things will bring, data strategies must adapt, and adapt fast.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects (things) connected through software to enable them to add value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. The IoT promises to bring a new wave of automation and enhancements to daily life as well as significant advancements for businesses of all kinds. With all major advancements there are many questions to ask and, as always, not just around the ‘could we’ create something but ‘should we.’

In the consumer world, allowing our media devices to share our favourites to enable our provider to make more relevant recommendations will be well received, but are bio enhancement implants to report on and gather data on medical conditions a step too far into science fiction? If a major technology company advances beyond others in this area such as Google or Apple, do we trust them to hold data on our physical issues as well as our consumer habits?

Data volumes are going to explode and that is on top of the explosion we have seen over the last 5, 10 and 20 years.  What is now key, is that we start planning how we can use this new data and interconnectivity. IBM has launched a partnership with The Weather Company (owner of the Weather Channel and WSI) which has many potential applications such as automatically tailoring in store merchandising based on the 48 hour forecast or automatically alerting insurance policy holders that a massive rain storm is about to hit them.  Oracle’s recent purchase of Datalogix which collects information about $3 trillion in consumer spending is a similar move and no doubt Google and Microsoft will be hot on their heels.

Today we already have many connected devices, but at best 90% of the data collected by companies from these devices is never used. This is where Data Scientists come in. These key individuals, either as part of your own business or through 3rd party specialists, can help you interrogate this data, plan for the future and find those nuggets of information that help you take action and add genuine value to your customers.

The good news for me is that, as consumers and human beings, we only accept what is reasonable a lot of the time. We are starting to realise that there is a price to pay for added convenience. How many of you are wearing your google glasses at the moment? How many of you are even going to be purchasing an Apple watch in the coming months? Are we comfortable being driven by our cars? However, regardless of our choices, data volumes will increase significantly.

Preparedness is key. Ensuring you can store this additional data, understand it and make it actionable in a way that continues to enhance your customer’s journey and experience of your brand is the only answer.

*The first connected toaster was produced in 1989 just to make the point!

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