Aldo Agostinelli

The Internet of Things has come a long way since John Romkey unveiled the first internet-connected toaster in 1990. Whilst we’re still firmly in the breakfast dark ages (well, I still turn the toaster on myself!) we’ve come on leaps and bounds in other spheres.

If we wish, we can use a FitBit to monitor our every move; control our heating and home security from our smartphone; set the mood for a romantic night in with a Netflix and Chill button; protect ourselves from sunburn using a UV patch and even use a connected baby monitor to reassure us that our children are safe.

Amazon’s Dash Buttons are one of the most exciting examples I’ve seen of the power of the IoT to simplify our daily lives. Have you ever opened the cupboard and realised you’re low on dishwasher tablets? Instantly order some more by pressing your conveniently placed Dash Button. It can only a matter of time until other retailers catch on and this type of instant-ordering becomes mainstream.

However, whilst the IoT will undoubtedly make our lives easier, it also introduces dangers we’ve never before had to consider.

Being more connected than ever gives third parties unprecedented access to our lives. As with all technology, IoT devices can be hacked. It’s chilling to think a baby monitor, transmitting a live stream of your sleeping child, could be accessed by someone on the internet. Or that someone could take control of your IoT connected car, as happened to Jeep in 2015.

One of the dangers lies in the sheer amount of data collected by IoT devices: James Clapper, US director of National Intelligence, has warned that IoT devices – from Smart TVs to interactive Barbie dolls – could be used for surveillance.

However, whilst this data could be dangerous in the wrong hands, it also represents an exciting new frontier for marketers. Brands in all spheres will be able to develop a deeper understanding of their customers and base marketing on increasingly relevant data, rather than vague hypotheses. This will undoubtedly help us to improve consumer experience. We’ve already seen AXA offering drivers discounts of up to 40% on their motor insurance for using an app that tracks their driving habits.

Smart data analysis will also give marketers entirely new opportunities to generate sales. We’ll be able to proactively reach out to customers whose appliances are malfunctioning (or sitting in the back of a cupboard gathering dust) or we can target a runner with an ad for new trainers (or a physio!) when their FitBit shows their performance has been declining. It’s an exciting new frontier with endless possibilities.  Who knows, internet-connected toasters could even be the next big digital marketing tool.

Is your home plugged in to the Internet of Things? I’d love to hear what you think about the IoT and the benefits (and dangers) of this kind of technology. Feel free to reply in the comments or tweet me at @AgostinelliAldo with your thoughts.

Aldo Agostinelli