Internet of Things' True Promise Is Real-Time Digital Marketing

It's an iconic collection of office blocks with a DLR and cross rail station to boot, but Canary Wharf is also a hot spot to watch out for with Internet of Things developments. I've been chatting to Level 39 this week It's a Canary Wharf Group company that, you may not be surprised to hear, started on the 39th floor. It's an incubator and accelerator for financial technology (FinTech) and Internet of Things (IoT) startups. 

One of the many interesting ideas coming out of the company is the idea that the world of IoT can use marketing as a lever to deliver desired outcomes. What do I mean by that? Well, essentially, it's real-time marketing that links data you have from one set of sensors to another. 

One of the examples its cites is Boldmind, a company which has entered its Cognicity Challenge competition, Imagine a lift full of office workers pressing the button for the floor that will take them to the train station at, say, around 5 or 6 pm. It's pretty likely they're heading home after a long day, but sensors at the train station tell you it's getting crowded down there. So what do you do? Well, how about a real-time code given out on elevator screen for money off some food, drinks or shopping at the ground floor retail centre? Rather than add to congestion, why not see if any of the nearby outlets want to give out a code, invite someone to text for a voucher, or whatever it might happen to be.

They've even got a name for it -- surge marketing. You have sensors in one part of the city, talking to those in another, and marketing decisions are made off the back of them.

You only have to start thinking about this and the possibilities are endless. To stay with transport, if the points and power systems that failed in south London a week ago could have triggered warning texts to people who use Waterloo to get home, that would have been a very useful service. If the same service could have planned another route, that too would have been very useful. But what about if, similar to the above example, it offered an on-screen button to book a room for the night, maybe with a complimentary tooth brush? What if it warned you could wait three hours at the station or press a button to reserve a table at a nearby restaurant until the trouble was sorted? You would then not only be very relevant to commuters -- you could also provide a wider public benefit of preventing overcrowding reaching such a level that a mainline station has to close its doors during rush hour. You can equally see the same thing being achieved through offers sent to Google Maps or in-car satellite navigation systems warning of a hold up with a detour via a Happy Eater on a different A road or motorway.

The same goes for stock levels. People often talk about the IoT as being the fridge that orders its own milk or the vending machine that know when it's out of Sprite -- but what about the warehouse that knows the last box of trendy training shoes has been shipped? A sensor there could not only inform the business to buy more stock, it could crucially feed in to the company's PPC and display system to stop running promotions for items that are not currently available. Instead, the sensor which says there is plenty of stock available for another item could trigger that line is bid for and promoted for the time being.

So if you're fed up with talk of washing machines that phone the engineer for you to be fixed masquerading as the great use case proving the IoT holds a lot of promise, just think about how much more informed your digital marketing could be. With sensors throughout a business linked in to external sensors, you could start making smarter decisions and execute them in real-time. That's the truly exciting part of the IoT revolution that will soon start to happen all around us.

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