How to think about the Internet of Things


How to think about the Internet of Things

Rishad Tobaccowala

When thinking about the Internet of things, it is important to start with keeping in mind the three driving forces of modern technology:

1. Device

2. Fast Connection

3. Cloud

Let’s start with today’s smart phone. In many ways, it is a “thing” in the Internet of Things. It is useful, not just because it is a device, but it is connected to a “Cloud,” which in many ways is a computer in a remote location. This Cloud, which combines storage (Dropbox, iCloud, Netflix Servers) and intelligence (algorithms like Amazon’s recommendation engine) over a fast connection is what really makes the phone valuable.

The Internet of Things really takes the phone paradigm of device/connection/cloud and makes devices smaller (a sensor with a transmitter that connects to a cloud) or much larger (a drone big enough to carry a passenger or a connected car).

What makes the Internet of Things possible today is the rapid decline in the cost of smart sensors (really small computers with transmitters and gyroscopes), which now cost pennies, pervasive connections (more and more places have fast and often free internet), and massive drops in storage/computing power in the cloud due to scale and competition effects of Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

The Range of Possibilities.

Below are six examples of the Internet of Things:

Trackr is a company that places a range of sensors on everyday objects so you never lose them. Think Find my iPhone, only now find my keys or my wallet.

Spun is a spoon with sensors and a transmitter that work with your phone camera to actually alert you to how many calories are in each spoonful of food you consume. It knows the food type because of the photo, it knows how much you eat by the weight of the spoon and the number of bites. It transmits all this to the cloud, which stores and calibrates the data. Now you know calories per bite!

The Google Self Driving Car has a number of sensors using connections to the Internet and a cloud-based navigation system.

Samsung introduced a refrigerator which plays music via Pandora, allows you to shop directly from a screen on the refrigerator, and takes photos of the inside of your fridge to send to your phone so you can see if you’re running low on milk while at the grocery store.

As the price of sensors, connections, and cloud computing falls, every object will be connected to the Internet of Things.

Health monitoring devices that are now FDA-approved are on the rise as the Affordable Health Care Act incentivizes prevention and works to keep people out of the hospital. How does one monitor health? Through connected sensors and devices which monitor everything from vital signs to whether or not you’ve taken your medication.

As the price of sensors, connections, and cloud computing falls, every object will be connected to the Internet of Things. A credit card may not just have a security chip but a sensor which keeps the card continuously connected and monitored.

What will be rare in the future is not the Internet of Things but Things That Are Not On the Internet, Off the Grid Things, and even Dark Things…

Implications on Customer Behavior and Expectations

To win in the IoT Age marketers must enable CAVES (Control Access Value Experience Simplification):

Control: Customers will increasingly feel they are in control and want to be able to monitor and influence things at a distance. They will feel they have conquered space with “God-like control.”

Access: Customers will expect access to anything they want, whenever they want it, with speed and responsiveness.

Value: One of the driving benefits of the IoT is the ability not just to control and access, but also monitor one’s behavior or the behavior of those Things. For instance, one of the benefits of the Nest Thermostat is its ability to cut energy behavior.

Experience: Marketers will have to deliver responsiveness and always be on. They will need to ensure that they are embedded into platforms (Cars, Home Networks, Voice Platforms) that then enable the Internet of Things.

Simplification: As more and more devices get connected to the Internet there will be a need to simplify and control things from home or other hubs. A smart phone will serve as one hub, but there will be other hubs, such as Amazon’s voice controlled Echo. Simplifiers of the Internet of Things will also have their own new platforms.

Clients can be prepared for the IoT era by a) ensuring development of new products and services that align with new platforms and technologies, b) building relationships in ways that align with CAVES, c) understanding the insight and intelligence implications of the data exhaust that the Internet of Things will leave.

Rishad Tobaccowala

Rishad Tobaccowala


As Chief Strategist and Member of the Directoire +, Rishad works with the Publicis board and leaders of the operating companies to ensure relevancy and added value to clients while re-inventing Publicis in a transformative age.


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