Smart mobile devices are the fastest growing consumer technologies in history. One consequence is that we’re all carrying around the communications infrastructure for the Internet of Things in our pockets. Add to this the rapid innovation in smart labels and packaging technologies – from printed electronics like NFC labels and Bluetooth stickers, to image recognition, and 1D or 2D barcode scanning – and a whole world of previously dumb products can now be made smart.
This is the ‘Internet of Everything’ where every physical thing can be connected to the web. Not only sensors in manufacturing machines on the factory floor, or state-of-the-art smart home devices with native, embedded connectivity, but everyday non-electronic household products which can be given real-time, social web intelligence via smart packaging, smart software and smart phones.
Let’s look at five brands embracing the Internet of Things to create new products and service models or connect existing things to the web in different ways to boost sales, consumer engagement, and operational effectiveness.
The Philips Hue LED bulbs let consumers create a personalised mood lighting system controlled with a smartphone or tablet app. Importantly, a great API lets the product play well with other things and services on the web. For example, a recent Netflix application dynamically changed the lighting to reflect scene colours in your streaming film, while the Disney StoryLight app matches the mood lighting with the narrative as the interactive story pages turn.
Bottles of whiskey are exactly the kind of everyday FMCG objects that can be re-imagined with new connected consumer technologies. For example, we’re helping Diageo use a range of smart packaging innovations and cloud software in combination with consumer devices to transform bottles of Johnnie Walker into interactive, digital media and create personalised consumer gifting experiences, loyalty rewards, and operational supply chain efficiencies.
The vast potential for new technologies to re-imagine business processes and models means that a bigger slice of the estimated $19 trillion Internet of Things market opportunity is B2B. Rolls-Royce has embedded jet engines with sensors that not only transmit real-time data about their condition, allowing them to be monitored and maintained remotely, but the engine usage can be metered on a thrust-per-second basis and sold on a subscription-based pricing model. This turns a physical product into a connected information service.
Hilton Hotels is showing how a global brand can use Internet of Things technologies at scale to bridge the boundary between digital and physical to drive service improvement and transform the customer experience. The hotel chain is rolling out smartphone-based check-in and room key functionality across its entire portfolio of 4,000 plus properties. This combines visible innovation in the front-of-house service experience with more efficient back-end operations.
Dom Pérignon recently teamed up with us to put connectivity at the heart of a modern luxury brand experience by modernising the process of ordering a bottle of champagne in hotel suites. With the push of a beautifully designed wireless button, guests can elegantly order a bottle of Champagne while a web-based software back-end tracks and manages the ordering process.
In short, the Internet of Things lets brands build direct digital relationships with consumers and deliver high-touch, personalised content, services and experiences through their physical products. At the same time, and using the same systems, it also makes the business operations behind how these products are made, sold, and used smarter, tracking them in real-time from factory floor to high street to living room. The technology and opportunity is here today; all brands need is the ambition, vision, and appetite for innovation to embrace it.