With an estimated 4 billion consumer devices coming online or being “connected” by the end of next year, we are in for a revolution in marketing, big data, privacy, and security all because of “the Internet of Things” (or IoT). Gartner research estimates that 5.5 million devices will come online every day in 2016. Their new study predicts IoT numbers to reach 21 billion by the year 2020 when previous numbers indicated smaller numbers. Everything from wearables to smart televisions are considered IoT devices but new IoT devices include cars and other consumer - focused devices that will be related to merchandising and reordering. All of this means big things for big data. While all this means advances in technology and new opportunities to market to customers in a highly customized and personalized way, it also means serious implications in the areas of privacy and security.

Growth and Advancement

All of this growth in the area of Internet of Things is big business. The estimated consumer spending for 2016 is projected to be more than $546 billion and by 2020, that total spend could reach $1 trillion. As more devices come online, consumers will also be transmitting their data, spending behaviors, and so much other information that will add to the information compiled as big data. The massive scale of connectivity will mean a massive increase in the data collected about consumers. Even if totals are estimates and they aren’t exact, the one common theme with any total estimates for IoT devices is that they are increasing.

Examples of “New” Smart Devices

New “smart” devices are being created all the time now as consumer products and merchandising are all getting into the game. When you think of smart or connected devices, you automatically assume that it is your smartphone, computer, wearables, and smart televisions. However, new brands are coming up with new ways to turn their products into smart devices. Here are some examples of smart devices that you might not expect:

  • Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Blue Label bottles have been equipped with sensors that make the bottles scannable by smartphone. The sensors on the bottle trigger messages on users’ smartphones with recipes and special promotions.
  • The Patriots and Steeler players in the season opener for the National Football League all became “smart devices” when their shoulder pads were equipped with sensors to monitor their movements in real time.
  • London’s famous black cabs just became smart cars, but not in the traditional way. The black cabs have had beacons installed in them turning them into targeted advertising vehicles.

As you can see, things that you didn’t know could be connected can become part of the Internet of Things. You can expect to see more connected products on a regular, daily basis and new products being connected and used in new ways.

Internet of Things Challenges

As with any area of new technology, there are hurdles to overcome and challenges to face. With connected devices, there are the obvious security issues that have to be dealt with. Devices and beacons can be hacked, so security is an important consideration and measure that must be taken when developing this technology. Because of the nature of some smart devices, such as wearables, security and hacking hasn’t been a top concern. However, experts warn that this is a growing concern and security features need to be built into every type of IoT device. That being said, the big challenge is with privacy. When so much data is collected, often times the privacy and technical details are unknown or misunderstood by consumers. Therefore it must be explained well and done transparently. There is a big potential for consumers to think that their privacy has been invaded, especially when they don’t understand the nuances of the technology.

The Internet of Things and Big Data
Big data is now often associated with the Internet of Things because of the amount of data that is collected by connected devices. In fact, this new collection of information has yet another buzzword phrase, “pattern of life” analytics or POL. The data being generated adds a new dimension to big data, which previously included static information like demographics and now includes this fluid pattern of life analytics data which can include places they visit, preferences for products and services, and virtually an infinite amount of information about the consumer. In fact, the increase in data is so great, that many companies are struggling with the volume and analyzing all the data. As this entire category increases, it is definitely an area to watch for growth and opportunities.