The ‘Internet of Me’ places even greater emphasis on the customer experience than the ‘Internet of Things’, and once again raises the question: how is the data being used?
Multinational management consulting firm Accenture believes that the ‘Internet of Me’ will prove to be one of the major trends of 2015. This concept goes beyond the notion of the Internet of Things and is part and parcel of the growing trend towards ultra-personalisation of services delivered to the consumer through connected objects so that s/he can enjoy an even more pleasant and engaging experience. Fully 89% of business leaders surveyed by US information technology research and advisory firm Gartner Research said that the consumer experience will be the deciding competitive factor by 2016, compared with just 36% who believed that four years ago. Moreover in five years’ time two thirds of the world’s population are expected to own a connected object. All these statistics herald the emergence of new marketing channels for companies, from wearable electronics to connected TV. However, this is not just about companies moving towards greater customisation of products and services. Any business initiative in this field needs to be part of a real desire to focus on the individual and his/her experience as a consumer. The Accenture report stresses moreover that sharing skills and expertise through partnerships between companies is now becoming a key factor.
Digital technology trends in 2015 according to Accenture
Mercedes Benz and Coca Cola appear to "get" it
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, representatives of automobile manufacturer Mercedes Benz presenting the fruits of the company’s collaboration with Nest Labs on its connected cars showed a passionate interest in the Internet of Me. The driver can use an app to change the temperature inside the car to that of his/her home and can also remotely adjust the temperature at home from the car. Experts underline that brands should now be thinking of connected objects essentially as new points of contact with consumers, even if this means relegating the promotion and sale of their products and services to second place on their list of priorities. They need to offer a ‘fun’ experience in order to attract the attention of the user and increase engagement. Once the initial affinity link has been established, the firm can then set about showcasing its products and services.
Coca Cola also seems to ‘get’ it. In Australia and Asia Pacific, the soft drinks brand, in partnership with Microsoft and Australian digital agency TKM9, has installed digital drinks vending machines which – in addition to their traditional job of distributing the beverages – enable the user to go online and do things like take part in games. Novel functionality such as facial recognition and geolocation make the user experience even more congenial. Sales through these outlets have recorded 12% extra growth versus traditional vending machines.
Mercedes Benz dives into the ‘Internet of Me’ in partnership with Nest Labs
Winning trust means reassuring users on data management
The huge amount of data now being collected by connected objects is helping commercial brands to target individual consumers more accurately, but these firms must not forget that one of the key issues affecting the Internet of Me is the trust the consumer has in the brand. French banking app ‘Bankin' seems to have pulled off this high-wire act, managing to attract users despite the fact that the data which customers are providing to Bankin’ is highly confidential, points out Laurence Allard, a lecturer in Communication Sciences at the University of Lille in northwestern France.
However, in this era of Big Data, although the quest for an increasingly personalised customer experience has led Netflix and Foursquare to make extremely accurate recommendations that really suit users’ tastes and preferences, the whole question of how personal data is being used is a highly sensitive issue. Respondents to a worldwide survey conducted by Accenture Research among 2,000 specialist and non-specialist IT sector managers in 10 different industrial sectors across 9 countries revealed that although 67% of all customers agreed to share their personal data with a company providing goods or services, this figure fell to 27% if the company admitted that it intended to pass the information on to a third party. Fully 85% of the managers polled by Accenture believe that the average consumer has only a vague idea about how firms use their data. Laurence Allard argues that it is now becoming absolutely essential for firms to ‟be extremely clear on just how secure the data they use is ”– which means communicating openly and adopting practices that guarantee security, such as making data anonymous when it is being processed, encrypting it when it is being transmitted, plus also clearly demonstrating how useful the data can be both to the individual consumer and society as a whole. One example of this is of course ‘smart’ recommendations. Another might be for instance to feed such data into the national public health statistics.
Coca Cola has launched digital drinks vending machines in Australia and Asia Pacific