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IoT threat to brands and marketers

News, 15 May 2015

LONDON: The Internet of Things is likely to pose major challenges to brands and marketers in ways they may not have fully appreciated according to several industry figures speaking at Digital Shoreditch.

At the week-long London event which showcases the UK's creative digital talent, Daniel Harvey, experience design director at Sapient Nitro, explained to The Drum how brands were at risk of losing affinity with consumers.

He cited the example of Nest, the wifi-enabled programmable thermostat, whose creators claim to "take the unloved products in your home and make simple, beautiful, thoughtful things".

It certainly "isn't the dumb, white plastic box that you hide in a broom closet," Harvey said. "But that's still become something that you ignore nine times out of ten."

For him this was an instance of the likely "disruption in how much affinity we have for brands – because they are just going to get meshed together in the framework that drives the internet of things".

Daniel Fogg, founder and strategist at product strategy consultancy Graftt, went a step further, arguing that product manufacturers would become less important than the service layers those products enabled.

So something like a connected fridge might better be developed by a supermarket chain such as Tesco or Sainsbury's rather than white goods manufacturers like Samsung or LG.

"You are going to see these new products creating new service categories and new layers of service in order to deliver things to people in the way that they want them," Fogg stated.

Designer Ross Atkins, director of Ross Atkins Associates, added that the manufacturers faced a choice as to whether to get on board with this development.

"It's much harder to grow a physical product off the back of a digital service than it is to grow a digital service off the back of a physical product," he suggested, noting that Apple was already moving down this road with HomeKit, a framework in iOS 8 for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user's home.

"Apple are going to potentially do to the whole of the consumer electronics industry what they've just done to music," he said.

But brand marketers would still have to tell compelling stories about all this, Atkins concluded, and that wouldn't be straightforward as connected products are often complicated and difficult to explain.

Data sourced from The Drum; Additional content by Warc staff