What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things is a very broad term that refers to devices that connect to the internet typically through the the use of wireless communication, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, or cellular. This enables the flow of data from the device to the “cloud” for later analysis and action. As an example, one of the common IoT devices found in homes is the smart thermostat. A smart thermostat can learn the routines of a household in order to automatically adjust the temperature accordingly throughout the day. Homeowners can control the thermostat by changing the temperature in real time or by pre-programming its settings through the use of a mobile app even when they are away from home.

But uses for IoT are not limited to the home. More and more, businesses have adapted this technology to increase profits, decrease operating expenses, and increase overall efficiencies.

How Can Businesses Benefit from IoT?

It's not difficult to understand how IoT has drastically improved the everyday lives of consumers, but how exactly can it benefit businesses? The ability to collect data from your products in the field, from your facilities, or from your mobile assets such as vehicles can transform the way in which you run your business.

Here are some examples:

  • In businesses that focus on warehousing, storage or manufacturing -- IoT technology can be used to more effectively and efficiently track inventory and orders, which, in turn, helps to improve productivity and lower overhead costs.

  • If you are an OEM that produces a product for sale, IoT-enabled devices can collect specific types of data that can be incredibly valuable in terms of identifying the needs and buying habits of consumers. For example, a smart fridge manufacturer can track what items a person tends to replace most often in their fridge. That data can be used to develop better buyer personas or to make specific product recommendations. The way that certain IoT devices are used can also give businesses insight on how to improve their products or services.

  • In businesses that manage assets such as cars, trucks, trailers, etc. – IoT technology helps manage these assets by giving you real-time location information as well as providing operational status that can be used for better logistical management.

As you can imagine, these are just a few examples of the application of IoT technology in business. Essentially, every business can use the IoT to gain more knowledge about their customers, to produce products and services that exceed their expectations, and to more effectively run their organizations.

Leveraging the IoT to Improve Digital Marketing

One of the biggest challenges businesses face is figuring out what their target audiences want. Most consumers aren't even sure what they even want. However, by collecting and analyzing consumer data, businesses will be able to identify trends in their customer’s behavior, which in turn allows them to more accurately predict what actions are required to produce better results.

You might be wondering how the data collected via the IoT is any different than the data that most businesses are collecting and analyzing using popular digital marketing tools such as Google Analytics. Such tools are useful, but they only provide data concerning consumer activity online, whereas the IoT can provide you with data that reveals how your consumers are actually using your product or service.

This kind of data is much more valuable when it comes to not only pinpointing who your target audience is, but how you can reach them via your digital marketing efforts. For example, if a consumer uses a virtual personal assistant, such as Alexa, to regularly make restaurant reservations, then publishing reviews of local restaurants on your website's blog could be an effective way to target them.

You'll also be able to determine when consumers take certain actions, which gives you the opportunity to put yourself in the perfect position to reach them. For example, if they consistently make restaurant reservations on Friday evenings, then publishing content on Friday afternoons can help influence their decisions.

The Impact IoT Makes on Web Development

As IoT devices become more commonplace, web development is going to become more complex. This is because websites will need to be able to communicate with “cloud” databases that store personalized data collected from IoT devices. Additionally, this data will provide a deep and rich “story” about how your product or service can be extended into new revenue opportunities such as up selling, co-marketing, or ecommerce sales beyond the initial sale of the product.

Another aspect of the IoT that you will want to keep in mind is how different devices will display the web. This is a challenge that most businesses have encountered before in the form of mobile devices. It was only recently that many businesses had to recode their sites to make them mobile-friendly, after all. It's not unlikely that certain IoT devices may require the same kind of optimization -- such as smartwatches or even kitchen appliances, for example.

Right now, there's no real blueprint on how to develop a website design strategy that takes into account where IoT is headed. Basically, you'll need a web development team that can adapt IoT technology in a staged approach that insures future scalability. This might not seem like the greatest plan of action, but simply knowing that you'll need to make changes to your website as you observe the direction in which IoT is going can help put you in a position to succeed.

Additionally, because there is no standard for web development in regards to the IoT as of yet, you'll want to make sure your team is prepared and that they don't fall behind by providing them with access to continued training, mentorships, and workshops. This allows your developers to keep their skills sharp and up-to-date so that they can meet the development challenges that the IoT is sure to present in the future with confidence.

Keeping an Eye on the Future of the IoT

As IoT technology is developed and made available to businesses, it is being adopted at a rapid rate. Gartner has predicted that 25 Billion IoT devices will be in the market by 2021. More IoT devices are flooding the market every year. While it's important to be aware of the data privacy and security questions that are beginning to pop up as a result, the marketing potential of IoT should not be ignored.

One thing that you should keep in mind, however, is that the IoT is already quite expansive. It's not a stretch to think that almost every device will be connected to a network at some point, from home appliances to potentially even smaller, everyday items, like salt shakers and toothbrushes. As a result, you need to think about the specific IoT devices that your target audience will be using and how they relate to your product or service. While you should take into account the IoT as a whole when it comes to improving your customer experience, you should begin thinking about how it will affect your target audience in particular.

Introducing Applied Logic Engineering

At August Ash, we continue to help our clients solve complex problems and we now have the opportunity to offer our clients a fully integrated capability that is in line with the future of IoT through our partnership with Applied Logic Engineering.

Applied Logic Engineering is a Twin Cities – based company specializing in the design and development of “Internet of Things” product and services. At Applied Logic, they have a wide range of experience in product development, software engineering, and team development. With a client base that includes several Fortune 500 companies, universities, and government agencies, their products and services have been used in research departments, product development, and testing applications in numerous industries around the world.

Applied Logic’s IoT capability covers the customer’s need to acquire data and wirelessly transmit it from their products or services in the field and then use this data to learn more about the customer’s experience. There is an implicit need to additionally extend the use of this data to provide ecommerce connections, digital marketing insights, and other services that traditional IoT providers are missing. Providing this level of integration to their clients extends the value they can derive from their IoT deployments and overall ROI. If you are interested in learning more about building and implementing IoT in your business, contact Applied Logic Engineering today.