Although it’s already been around for several years, the Internet of Things (IoT) hit the mainstream in 2017. Spurred on by advancements in smart home technology, AI-driven appliances and industrial automation, recent statistics estimate nearly 8.5 billion things are already connected and in use — and there’s more joining the mix every day.
However, some experts believe the IoT is just starting to hit its stride. As consumers and business owners are embracing technology in record numbers, it’s anybody’s guess as to how high these figures will reach in 2018 and beyond.
The IoT is expected to have a significant impact on modern consumers in 2018. While we already have the luxury of shopping from home for most items, brands are using the IoT to facilitate product subscription services, analyze purchasing trends and provide personalized recommendations based on your shopping history. Some people see this as an invasion of privacy, but the IoT will benefit consumer brands and their customers in several ways:
- Building customer trust and loyalty: With an increased number of data breaches in the news lately, consumers are starting to lose their trust in many popular brands. Not only will the IoT result in improved data security and confidentiality in 2018 and beyond, but businesses are also hoping to renew consumer loyalty by improving customer support and providing personalized services.
- Integration of predictive analytics: Businesses are using predictive analytics in tandem with advanced AI to predict your shopping needs and habits. This lets them connect you with relevant ads and promotions that match your interests and increase the odds you’ll make another purchase.
These are just a couple of ways the IoT benefits consumer spending, and these strategies are used in online shopping and at retail point-of-sale kiosks alike. Many businesses have even connected their digital storefronts and their human-powered cash registers for greater service continuity and customer satisfaction.
Business Growth and Transformation
Modern businesses are transforming in 2018 and beyond, and much of this change is a result of the IoT. According to some recent studies, nearly 75 percent of brands that have already embraced the IoT indicate that digital transformation is impossible without utilizing the next-gen connectivity of the IoT.
According to industry experts, there are three major factors behind this unprecedented level of digital transformation:
- The amount of data generated by consumer devices. As mentioned earlier, there are already billions of devices connected to the IoT, and this number is growing nearly every day. As a result, our digital society generates massive amounts of data on a daily basis. The majority of this data is currently left unprocessed or ignored altogether, but brands are learning new and innovative ways to apply this data to bolster the overall consumer experience.
- The dawn of cloud computing. Cloud computing introduces a new level of flexibility to companies doing business in the information age. With the ability to deploy new technologies quickly and efficiently to collaborating on projects with contacts from all over the globe, cloud computing is redefining the way we do business in the 21st century.
- New methods to connect with customers. The prevalence of social media and mobile connectivity is giving businesses brand new methods to connect with their customers, advertise products and provide technical support when needed. Sites like Facebook make it easy to engage your target audience, while many companies use SMS to provide digital coupons or respond to customer inquiries.
The IoT isn’t only focused on increasing consumer spending — it’s also meant to improve the entire shopping experience. From browsing and selecting goods to following through with your purchase, the IoT will likely find its way into every step of the process within the next few years.
Marketing and Advertising
Professional marketers are eying the IoT for its potential in marketing and advertising. Just like consumer spending and business growth, the next-gen platform has much to offer a niche that seems to be struggling to come up with a standardized digital strategy.
- Data accessibility. We’re already aware of the massive datasets generated by cloud computing and tech-savvy consumers, but marketers are interested in reining in this data to bolster their advertisement campaigns.
- User interaction. The IoT also makes it easier for consumers and users to provide their feedback directly to the manufacturer. With new avenues for communication, marketers are optimistic that their future strategies will yield more sales and increased ROI when compared to the tactics they’re currently using.
- Customer relationship management. Marketers are already using the IoT in conjunction with their CRM software — and they’re reaping the benefits. Not only does the IoT help you understand how and where consumer purchases originate, but it also provides you with better insight into the entire path leading up to a purchase.
- Social media. Once again, social media is a huge factor in the push for IoT in 2018 and beyond. According to recent statistics, nearly 90 percent of all small- to medium-sized businesses indicate social media has increased their online profitability. These statistics are only expected to increase as more shoppers — and businesses — warm up to the idea of using social media as an effective form of advertising.
- Better click-through rate. Digital marketing is all about the click-through rate. Showing off your products or services is one thing, but you also need to convince each viewer to click on your links and follow through with a purchase. Thanks to the IoT and next-gen smart devices, marketers might be able to achieve click-through rates of 100 percent as early as 2018. This is primarily achieved through the use of relevant or contextual advertisements, which target shoppers based on their specific needs.
All this functionality has a real potential to revolutionize the field of marketing in 2018 and beyond. Since much of this technology is still in its earliest stages of development, it’s anybody’s guess as to where it will bring us in the next year or two.
The Future of Consumer Shopping Begins in 2018
While we’ve already experienced some huge leaps and bounds toward widespread IoT integration in 2017, many industry experts think 2018 will define the technology once and for all. From consumer spending to business transformation and contextual advertising, the IoT has the potential to improve the digital landscape for nearly everyone on the planet.