April 21, 2016
Marketers are always falling in love with mobile’s latest “shiny new object” and new technology acronyms — 5G, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), NFC (near-field communication), RWD (responsive web design), etc. — and they’re constantly looking for the next platform, whether it’s virtual reality (VR), bots, artificial intelligence (AI), or the internet of things (IoT).
However, it is time to stop this quixotic quest for a paradigmatic new platform to replace mobile! Instead, recognize that mobile will activate these adjacent technologies to enable new brand experiences.
I’ve just published a new report, “The Internet Of Things Redefines Brand Engagement,” which looks at the benefits that IoT will open up for marketers and how IoT and mobile will overlap in the years to come.
Over the past decade, smartphones have become a sort of black hole, integrating a huge array of sensors, but mobile is now exploding back out to our environments. Sensors and connectivity are expanding beyond smartphones to our wrists, bodies, cars, TVs, and washing machines as well as to buildings and “invisible” places in the world around us. The IoT is generating tectonic shifts among digital platforms and tech vendors, signaling a new wave of disruption, and unleashing new forms of competition.
The IoT is also redefining brand engagement by enabling marketers to:
- Listen to their customers and analyze their real behaviors.
- Create more frequent and intimate consumer interactions.
- Differentiate their customer experience.
- Build new offerings and business models.
However, B2C marketers’ road to IoT success will pass through mobile. Here’s how we expect the role of mobile moments to evolve over time in an increasingly connected world:
- Within two years, marketers will respond to mobile moments to unlock IoT experiences. You need to define engagement scenarios where smartphones are the primary interface and remote control of connected experiences. It means designing app experiences that automatically connect with other sensors or connected objects and deliver relevant information via micro moments.
- Within five years, marketers will anticipate mobile moments to unify IoT experiences. Using the data from the relationship established when responding to mobile moments, marketers must start anticipating consumers’ needs and proactively send targeted information. It means leveraging smartphones as proxy identifiers for consumer identities to provide a continuity of experience between various connected environments (e.g., from your car to your home).
- Within 10 years, marketers will deliver blended experiences as mobile dissolves. Mobile moments will still matter but will progressively become almost invisible: Lights will turn on and your preferred music will play automatically based on your mood and context. As David Rose puts it, objects will become “enchanted”: Technologies will fade into the background to automatically deliver almost magical experiences. Moving forward, smartphones will become less of a user interface device and more of a user control and identity device, progressively ceding place to directly engaging IoT devices. It will force marketers to tell stories without even using a screen.
Reports of IoT killing mobile are greatly exaggerated, if not completely inaccurate. Echoing the traditional proclamation of “The King is dead; long live The King!” I can confirm that mobile is here to stay. To put this analysis in a broader and more holistic perspective, I invite you to read the latest report from my colleagues Julie A. Ask and Michael Facemire on the future of mobile. They explain very well how mobile becomes less of a standalone channel and more of an actor — often the central choreographer — in this broader connected ecosystem. As they put it, “Mobile itself will become the brain behind the next revolution in mobility as it powers and orchestrates a multidevice, blended user ecosystem.”