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This question - what would you like to know about your customers? - is the simple challenge from Andrew Warren-Payne as he takes to the stage and bemoans previous hype around the tweeting fridge.
By the way, that header image is Colin Farrell in the 2012 reboot of Total Recall, reading a lovely message on his 'screen fridge'.
Andrew's point is that the internet of things is not about smart fridges (you would still run out of toilet roll, unless you kept it in the fridge) or a kettle you can turn on with your smartphone. The IoT is more a forthcoming reality for expanding data collection and communication, allowing brands to find out more about customers and how they interact with products and services.
A bad example of the connected device
I have to get internet-enabled fridges out of my system. I'm not trying to be cool, but one of my favourite websites is fuckyeahinternetfridge.
Just take a look at some of the posts, including the wonderful press release from Electrolux in 1999 that declared:
there’s no doubt that when the Sceenfridge hits the market, it will revolutionize daily life
It's easy to scoff at predictions that haven't come true but it's clear that early thoughts on connected devices were directed towards a utopia that people don't want. Switches, physical proximity and cognisance of 'what you've got in' are pretty much optimal solutions for turning on a kettle and writing a shopping list. It's not a drag being at work, unsure if you have a jar of artichokes in the fridge.
The IoT can be more powerful than making the physical virtual. It can improve the physical, solve big problems such as the stress of commuting by bicycle. Which is where the good example of a connected thing comes in...
A good example of a connected thing
MindRider (praise the Lord that the start-up trend for dropping e's from er's has left us) is a smart bicycle helmet.
The helmet measures stress with sensors of brain activity and head movement. The platform can then visualise how stressed you've been on your journey at various times. Pooled routes allow the rider to look for or be recommended new and safer routes to get to work (or wherever else).
In the words of the company Kickstarter:
MindRider is a new helmet that shows, in real time, how your rides, movement, and location engage your mind. The MindRider app maps and tracks your engagement, and allows you to share your maps with others. These maps provide quantified insight that empower you to maximize your riding experience, and they are a great resource for riding communities and street advocacy.
Think of the power of this kind of application for product development, customer experience and the customer/product lifecycle.
So, take Andrew's polemic back to your marketing team and ask them 'what do we want to know about our customers?'
For more on this subject, check out the Future of Digital Marketing 2014 presentation slides.