There has been a lot of buzz recently about smart technology. There is talk of why Google is purchasing companies like Nest (a self-learning thermostat and smoke detector maker), robotics companies, and machine learning companies like DeepMind. There is discussion of how beacon technology will completely transform our shopping experience. There is even buzz related to smart technology at the box office this season, where the implications of a mustached Joaquin Phoenix falling in love with [a hyper-intelligent version of] Siri are explored in the movie Her. So why is this exciting? I mean, technological advances happen every year, right?
Here are 3 reasons why you should be JUMPING-OUT-OF-YOUR-SEAT excited:
1) Our way of living will soon be transformed.
Technology no longer relies on interaction with screens (i.e. laptop, tablet, phone, TV). Instead, it lives in the three-dimensional space in which we live. And most significantly, this new wave of technology is now becoming available on a large scale to consumers like you and me. Imagine the following scenario as you travel home from work:
You depart the office on the way to the L stop. As you walk past Jimmy John’s, a beacon in the restaurant picks up your cell signal and recognizes you as a regular customer. Later, while you listen to Spotify on the 30-minute train ride, you hear an ad for your favorite JJ’s sandwich. With your mouth watering at the thought, you put in your sandwich order to arrive just after you expect to get home. Once off the train, you quickly swing by the CVS to pick up some toiletries. While in the toilet paper aisle, a beacon in the aisle notices you and CVS sends a recommendation to your phone to use the toilet paper coupon they gave you on your last receipt, which you are now able to use digitally. You then walk two blocks home in unruly cold Chicago weather. As you finally enter your home, Nest senses your presence and warms up the apartment for the next hour, just how you like it after bearing the cold.
2) Our effectiveness as marketers will drastically improve.
Marketers have always struggled to accurately understand how consumers behave when they are not online or purchasing products directly within the store. Now, with intelligent technology transforming our world into the “internet of things,” where objects in the physical world are integrated with the web, it is possible to collect data on everyday consumer behavior. Such behavioral information gives marketers a clearer sense of the return on marketing investments and how, for example, online advertisements influence purchase behavior.
This information also gives marketers a more nuanced picture of customer segments, which can be utilized to better position products and communications to customer needs. Of course, there are multitudes of privacy concerns associated with peering into the daily lives of consumers (especially if this data comes from within a person’s home). Left unregulated, could there be a day when people can never truly take a break and “be off the grid”? These problems have yet to play out. It will be interesting to see how consumers and companies alike handle privacy concerns amidst the advent of such sophisticated technology.
3) The science fiction of our childhood will become the reality in our lifetime.
This is where things really get interesting. Think Skynet from The Terminator or U.S.R. from iRobot, minus all of the evil apocalyptic robotic revolution stuff. Think The Jetsons:
- It is no longer very far-fetched to think of machine learning appliances and smart robots within the home. The water temperature in the sink and shower adjusts automatically, the lights dim/brighten to your specifications during the day, outlets shut down when you’re gone, etc. After brief training, your personal robot will automatically do laundry on Thursday nights, cook dinner at 7:15pm, give foot massages first thing after coming home from work, and do anything else to your liking. You have more free time.
- Tangible custom advertisements may become a new form of media. Since beacons and products like Nest receive personalized data from information from us, perhaps future marketers will use these technological insights to connect back with consumers in the physical world in a highly customized fashion. Perhaps we will see poster ads utilizing a hyper-advanced form of pin art toy technology to transform its shape to the optimal product each time a person walks in front of it. Perhaps marketers may seek to connect with consumers through their personal robots at home. A robot may have a small built-in 3D printer, which a company, say Ford, may use to print small models or exclusive “first glimpses” of its 2015 Ford Fusion. The robot could then hand this “gift” to the consumer in person.
The technological possibilities are limitless. The consumer data implications are endless. What is most incredible is the fact that this is the beginning of an entirely new era of business, marketing, and communications. And we get to be a part of it.