Marketers, Are You Ready? The Impending Data Explosion from the New Gizmos and Gadgets Unveiled at CES
This is the first year in a very long time that I wasn’t in Las Vegas during CES. Although it’s not quite as exciting as actually being there, I love that the Twitter-verse and industry news sites kept us all up to date about the latest and greatest announcements. Now that CES2015 is all wrapped up, I find myself thinking about the potential of some very interesting announcements – from the wild to the wonderful to the leave-you-wondering! What strikes me isn’t how useful these new gizmos and gadgets will likely be to myself and my consumer counterparts, but instead what incredible new data sources they will offer to my fellow marketers.
One thing is for sure… the connected “Internet of Things” is indeed here. It’s no longer just a vision. Sure, we’re just seeing the early stages, but it’s becoming more and more main stream by the day. And as marketers, we have so much opportunity ahead of us!
I ran across an interesting video interview on the CES show floor with Jack Smith from GroupM on Adweek.com. Jack says that “data from sensors will have a bigger impact, longer term, than the Internet itself.” That is a lofty statement, and I’m not sure I’ll go quite that far yet, but I absolutely agree with his premise… this new world of connectivity is already shifting marketing, and it will almost certainly radically change the way we market in the near future.
Riding the Data Explosion (Literally)
The Connected Cycle is one of the announcements that I find intriguing as a marketer. In short, it’s a bike pedal equipped with GPS and GPRS sensors that “monitor your movements and act as a basic fitness tracker.” It’s being positioned as a way to track stolen bicycles, which is a massive problem in Europe particularly, with the side benefit of being a powerful fitness tracker. It may not be as sexy as some other announcements, but I think there is buried treasure in devices like these.
Imagine how powerful that data would be to a sporting goods retailer? What if the rider of that bicycle had opted into a program that allowed the retailer to track their activity in exchange for highly targeted offers?
Let’s say that the rider is nearing one of your stores and it’s a colder than usual day. Perhaps you could push them an offer to their smart phone for some neoprene booties. Or let’s say that, based on their activity patterns, the rider appears to be stepping up their activity and is riding more frequently suggesting they may be ready for a race you are sponsoring in a few months in the area. Perhaps you could push them an inspirational message saying how great they’re progressing and had they thought about signing up for the big race, with a special incentive of course.
The segmentation possibilities are endless, and the analytics that could be done on the data leaves the data-driven marketer salivating!
Home Automation Meets Business Automation
There were numerous announcements about the connected “house of the future”, and it’s clear that we are just beginning of the home automation wave. Several of the big dogs like Samsung, Google, and Apple are building or buying automation hub platforms, so it’s going to be easier and easier to connect appliances and other home devices to one another, and also to mobile technology and wearables. As marketers, there is incredible potential to really tap into this. Imagine the possibility of interconnecting your customers’ home automation systems with your own marketing automation systems? Marketers will soon be able literally serve up offers based upon things that are occurring in the home in real time.
Oh no, your teenage son finished off all but the last drop of milk (and put the almost-empty jug back in the fridge without a second thought)! Not to worry, you’ve linked your refrigerator’s sensor data with your favorite grocery store. An alert is sent asking if you want more milk, and oh by the way, your shopping patterns indicate you may be running out of your son’s favorite cereal too, so it offers you a special discount if you add a box to your order. Oh yeah, of course he was complaining about being out just yesterday! And whala, a gallon of milk and some Cinnamon Toast Crunch magically arrives at your door by the end of the day. Heck, it will probably arrive within an hour via a drone if Amazon has anything to say about it! No manual business processes whatsoever. It’s your appliance’s sensors talking to your customer data warehouse, which is talking to your marketing automation system, which is talking to a mobile app, which is talking to an ordering system, which is talking to a payment system, which is talking to a logistics/delivery system. That is, of course, if your internal processes are ready!
Some of the More Weird and Wacky, But There May Just Be Something…
Panasonic’s Smart Mirror allows you to analyze your skin and allows you to visualize yourself with different makeup or even a different haircut. Cosmetics and hair care companies should be all over this. Imagine the possibilities of visualizing yourself looking absolutely stunning – if only virtually – with perfect makeup and hair. Who wouldn’t want to rush right out and capture the look for real? What if a store front could virtually put the passer-byer in their products, and once the customer is inside the store, point them to the products that were featured? Take it a step further and send them a special offer the next week to come back buy the hat that just goes perfectly with the rest of the outfit. It all sounds a little bit “Minority Report-esque”, but it’s closer to becoming true every day. The power of the interconnected world is endless for the marketer.
And then there’s Belty… it’s definitely garnered a lot of news (and snarky comments too!). Belty is a smart belt that slims or expands based upon your waist size at that very moment – whether you’re sitting, standing, or just had a too-large meal. I don’t see Belty taking off, but you never know! If it does however, can’t you just see Belty sending a message to your Weight Watchers app about needing to get back on diet? Or better yet, pointing you to the Half Yearly Sale at Nordstrom because you’re getting too skinny for your pants?
The “Internet of Things” is Becoming Reality… Is Your Marketing Team Ready?
The internet of things is already changing the way consumers live, and it’s beginning to change the way marketers market. With the It is critical that marketers are thinking about how they can leverage the new devices and the data they provide. Connecting the dots between devices can become a marketer’s best friend (if they’re ready), or worst enemy (if they’re not).
Are you ready? Ask yourself these 6 questions:
- Are your existing business applications connected to one another? Do your marketing systems “talk” to your finance systems and your sales systems and your customer support systems?
- Do you have fist-class data quality and validation technology and practices in place? Real-time, automated processes will only amplify data quality problems.
- Can you connect easily to any new data source as it becomes available, no matter where it lives and no matter what format it is in? The only constant in this new world is the speed of change, so if you’re not building processes and leveraging technologies that can keep up, you’re already missing the boat!
- Are you building real time capabilities into your processes and technologies? You systems are going to have to handle real-time sensor data, and make real-time decisions based on the data they provide.
- Are your marketing analytics capabilities leading the pack or just getting out of the gate? Are they harnessing all of the rich data available within your organization today? Are you ready to analyze all of the new data sources to determine trends and segment for maximum effect?
- Are you talking to your counterparts in IT, logistics, finance, etc. about the business processes and technologies you are going to need to harness the data that the interconnected world of today, and of the near future? If not, don’t wait! Begin that conversation ASAP!
Informatica is ready to help you embark on this new and exciting data journey. For some additional perspectives from Informatica on the technologies announced at CES2015, I encourage you to read some of my colleagues’ recent blog posts: