What the internet of things means to me: Saj Arshad

The marketing and strategy director at Bupa talks about what is possible today thanks to internet-of-things thinking, and where it may take him and his brand.

An automated world where objects communicate with other objects still sounds like a science fiction novel. The fact that it’s becoming a reality is both exciting and daunting for businesses.

More-personalised data and smarter algorithms are allowing brands to better understand an individual customer’s behaviour and needs.

The internet of things provides two main opportunities. First, it takes the idea of "Quantified Self" – using data generated by our behaviour – a step further. The rise in self-monitoring via apps and the tracking of areas such as fitness and sleep offers brands a chance to create devices and apps that allow them to be an active part of peoples’ lives. However, the internet of things encompasses devices that can make decisions, place orders and even change our diary or shopping order, based on our individual needs and ambitions.

Second, it will add value for the customer like never before. More-personalised data and smarter algorithms are allowing brands to better understand an individual customer’s behaviour and needs, enabling us to provide more tailored and personalised products and services.

However, the internet of things creates challenges, too – for example, it challenges brands to be relevant. We need to ensure that messages about our services and products are relevant to a person’s life and that they present a timely proposition – what the consumer wants, when they want it.

Managing customer expectations, whether they are plugged in to the internet of things or blissfully detached from it, will be key to succeeding in this new reality. One can’t be ignored in favour of the other.

What’s guaranteed is that the internet of things will bring a dramatic change to life as we know it. I can’t wait.

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