This post is by Jack Morgan, summer intern at Warc.

With the number of devices connected in the internet of things (IOT) expected to rise to between 26 billion (Gartner estimate) and 40.9 billion (ABI research estimate) by 2020 it is unclear exactly what the opportunities and threats are ahead. With this in mind Ogilvy decided to put together a series of speakers to discuss what the rise of the internet of things means for brands.

Better use of data

According to Liri Andersson, founder of this fluid world, we are currently using only 0.5% of the available data to understand human interaction with devices. With the rise in connected devices, the issue of quality information will be challenging.

Jeremy Bevan, VP Marketing EMEA at Cisco used a similar term, the internet of everything (IOE), predicting the economic potential in advertising and marketing could be $1.95 trillion globally. Jeremy explored examples of how smart connected cities could improve a number of routine activities such as traffic flow and rubbish collection through smarter use of information.

Serving people

The future for brands and the technology they use is predictably uncertain. Alexander Asseily, co-founder of Jawbone, the wearable technology company, used past examples of products that have failed to innovate. At Jawbone, they argue that technology should not just be for early adopters, and define a good product as usable, affordable and accessible. Improvements in technology can change these factors but ultimately success is down to how useful people find the offered solution.

Ralph Rivera, Director of the BBC's future media, had an interesting perspective that was reassuring established brands: "the future is already here; it just doesn't exist evenly for all". Rivera described the BBC's journey towards engaging and creating better connections with individuals, and the new way of looking at relationships this has led to – "engaging with the people that used to be called customers".

Experimentation and creativity

Navid Gornall, creative technologist at Ogilvy, explained how he used and experimented with technology such as 3D printing in the office. He encouraged the audience to use playful experimentation more often in the pursuit of creative new ideas. This approach can help provide new ways to increase storytelling perspectives and create exciting brand moments.

Andy Stanford-Clark, chief technology officer in Smarter Energy at IBM, has used connected thinking and experimentation on a whole new level. Andy used sensors throughout his house to understand how his family could better use energy, and save money. This led to his house creating automatic Twitter updates and SMS alerts for activated mousetraps. He also created a ready-made solution for a local ferry company, improving their communication of delays and giving value to consumers. His experience shows that the potential for the internet of things to provide cost effective solutions for brands already exists, and that leveraging existing information can become a significant asset for brands.

Keep purpose top-of-mind

Despite the prevalence of internet connected devices each speaker reinforced the underlying need for on-going, quality, emotional connections to remain central between brands and consumers. There were several examples of how rapid prototyping and fast development of ideas was more successful than the technology itself. Brands must remember that creative ideas come from good principles and are rooted in consumer needs.

Tom Lawton, inventor, posed a thought-provoking question: "is it better to predict the future or to create it?"

Brands can look at the future of the internet of things in two ways: risky and uncertain, or an opportunity for creative and novel ways to build brands, target audiences and serve consumers. Technology is constantly evolving, and whilst a degree of caution is sensible, brands should be imagining how they might write the future of people in a connected world.

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