On Tuesday digital agency TH_NK gathered together “technologists, marketers, creatives and strategists” to chat about how technology is changing the way marketers think and work. And they were kind enough to ask us along.
Along with Wired, Microsoft, Shazam, Blippar, Proxama, Station10, Currency Cloud and Carat, EVRYTHNG took part in panels discussing ‘Networked Devices & Maker Culture’, ‘The Cloud’ and ‘Physical to Digital’.
A lot of the conversation naturally revolved around the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) and, after the usual debate around it’s subjective definition, the key questions focused on barriers to adoption.
Some concern was expressed that the IoT might have a somewhat ‘gimmicky’ reputation and that apps were all too often stunts with no practical use cases. James Shepherd of Blippar argued that marketing stunts may not necessarily be a negative if they open the door for future interactions, but Matthew Knight of Carat felt that concepts like tweeting milk cartons are dangerous because they create a misleading, lasting impression of what the Internet of Things is about for consumers, agencies and brands alike.
A few panellists throughout the day felt that it was up to brands to experiment with connected products, learn the business lessons and adapt their marketing strategies and even their supply chains accordingly. EVRYTHNG’s Andy Hobsbawm highlighted the need for brands to put smart products in the hands of their customers, learn how they are used and generate data they can analyse to better cater for consumer needs in the future.
Miles Lewis of Shazam made a very practical point that app-based physical-digital technologies like Shazam and Blippar faced the challenge of “how to make sure we’re still relevant as apps” in a world where “94% all apps are deleted after a month”.
Ciaran O’Sullivan of Proxama recognised Apple’s lack of NFC support as a key barrier to adoption. He also referenced the on-going mobile payment war slowing down progress as banks and mobile operators fight over who owns the customer – issues less about implementation than politics.
Issues of privacy and security in an age of super-connectivity were debated, however Andy thought this was as much a need for common sense service design based around value exchange, as it was a technology problem to be solved. For instance, we are happy with Amazon knowing a huge amount about our shopping habits because they provide personalisation and convenience in return.
Also the social norms around privacy are constantly evolving so what is unacceptable today may well be the norm in the future. Knight also advocated that brands are ultimately marks of trust and have a kind of moral responsibility to make sure that their IoT services and products respect consumers’ rights for security and privacy.
A particularly positive view of the IoT to come out of the discussions was a ‘cradle to cradle’ manufacturing approach. The ability to track materials in products as they are produced, then manage the longevity of the products total life in the hands of consumers (including second hand markets), and finally breaking it down into component materials again to be recycled back into new physical things.
The IoT needs to be an “economic, industrial and social” ecosystem and for this to happen there has to be lasting value beyond brands, agencies, campaigns and consumers. Knight added that it’s actually this ecosystem and the life of information attached to the products connected by the IoT that will be where things start to get really interesting…
In other words, Big Data. Now there’s a good theme for the next TH_NKTANK session.