In the digital world, the market for connected products is growing rapidly and the increasing consumer adoption of apps has resulted in the emergence of the connected home, presenting retailers and brands with a huge business opportunity in driving user engagement and connectivity across devices. According to Gartner, 4.9 billion connected “things” will be in use by 2015 and the company also predicts that by 2018, 76 percent of connected-home apps will be accessible from smart TVs, which will result in such devices becoming very common in homes.

The connected home ecosystem presents businesses with a key opportunity to enhance the user’s life, creating ‘joined up’ systems that work consistently and fluidly across all channels. Mobile devices for example, could be used at the centre of an operations hub for the home. The smart home is also set to soon reach the mass market; according to the GSMA, approximately one in four people in Germany, Japan, the UK and the US already own a connected device, underscoring the growing impact of wireless connectivity and the Internet of Things (IoT) on the lives of consumers.

The need for personalised services

As we move into an age where more systems are automated, engaging customers on a personal level to drive loyalty will become even more important. Luckily there are new approaches to driving customer engagement being enabled by the ever developing technology and IoT landscapes. Using IoT networks, businesses will be able to reduce siloed systems and enable the user to control everything from one app. This allows data to be passed to devices and enables businesses to learn and tailor the user experience to make life better for the consumer. In the connected home, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi for example, could be used to identify a user pulling into their driveway at home, notifying the in-house IoT system to turn on the heating, air conditioning or lights, as well as opening gates, disabling burglar alarms via secure, guaranteed delivery, or sending back confirmation to car.

The IoT also offers the opportunity for users to enhance their relationships; imagine the Skype or FaceTime experience amplified by complimentary IoT operations in the background. Whilst away from home parents could communicate with the connected home, send messages via the TV to the kids, or set the heating to turn on at a different time if the day is colder. This could supplement the feeling of being present and in control of the house which lends itself to more peace of mind.

As another example use case, with connected car technology such as audio entertainment, and home electronics products such as wireless speakers and home audio video receivers, users can connect these integrated devices to their smartphone with ease and provide access and control of stored multimedia content and/or smartphone apps.

All of these things will lead to a larger and better informed logistics and analytics for the industry which will be able to provide a better service to consumers and design products to match actual usage patterns. Using this data, retailers and brands will also be able to open up the IoT to properly harness the growing demand for personalised user experiences and pull ahead of their competition by building and maintaining a loyal consumer base.

Adopting an omni-channel approach

With the volume of IoT devices increasing, it is easy for brands to lose track of individuals in the midst of a device influx and one of the major goals of IoT for marketing is to ensure a unified user experience across every IoT device. As the demand from consumers for hyper-personal connected experiences grows, the next step for retailers is in providing an omni-channel and “human first” user experience, which focuses on the consumer’s needs and offers them a personalised, consistent experience regardless of the device they choose to use.

For example, a customer might use a retail site regularly in the evenings, and would like to complete purchases via an app on their mobile device while commuting, the basket contents and information about recently browsed items is unavailable therefore leaving the customer frustrated. By introducing connected IoT networks, a brand would be able to identify customers across devices, maintain tracking functionality and build an aggregated view of the customer from all devices’ data. This allows them to build a more complete picture of consumers’ preferences and behaviors and caters to them on an individual basis, to provide a highly personalised shopping experience.

By adopting an omni-channel approach, together with advanced tagging mechanisms, customer recognition systems and growing support for cross-device software, businesses will soon have the necessary tools in place ready to drive customer loyalty for the next wave of IoT devices. IoT/OTT networks have the power to bring together real-time data and messaging services with marketing automation to enable a powerful and flexible solution for IoT communications, allowing users to be identified and profiled across all a brand’s digital channels. This type of technology makes life better for customers, ensuring that personal connections are maintained, and the consumer always has the option to interact with the brand in a comfortable, trusted and efficient way that makes them feel valued.


By Paul Putman, CEO of Donky. 

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