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From smart homes to smart shopping

From smart homes to smart shopping Tej Rekhi

With the dropping costs of storage and the proliferation of smart devices, now everything is programmable. There are already twice as many "things" connected on the Internet than people. And by 2020, this is set to rise to 50 billion connected devices, according to Cisco.

This technology can also be used to provide services in the home, initially to conserve energy. Residents can be notified when they are close to exceeding recommended consumption levels of water and electricity, and devices at home can be switched on and off based on when residents are home to save heating costs.
There is also the possibility to enable commuters to come home to a warm house, with the coffee machine ready to go, the outdoor entrance already lit, and the TV turned on. To take the concept one step further, all this information - from commuting habits to how much residents exercise, can be used  to build a much deeper understanding of the consumers’ habits. This can be used to ensure that  promotions they receive on their smart phones, tablets, or smart TVs are timely and related to their interests.

Information will be collected along each stage of the purchase chain, including when consumers shop on the desktop, do price comparisons on the tablets and when they make purchases using their credit card at the shopping centre.  By combining offline and online data, advertisers have a complete picture of consumers’ purchases enabling them to promote products more intelligently so offers are less like spam and more like helpful recommendations. With more data advertisers can be more creative about the ads and how they are served, making the promotions more interesting and engaging.

For example, by advertisers having a complete data set from smart devices, travelers won’t be offered a plane ticket to Paris after they’ve already bought one through their travel agent, but instead they can receive recommendations for a local GPS system, or a SIM card to place calls overseas.

There will no longer be distinctions made between traditional media, mobile devices and laptops. Everything will be digital and media will appear wherever and whenever it has the most relevance. There will be a transition towards smart advertising and as a result smarter shoppers.

However, in order for all this data to be aggregated, analysed and shared, there needs to be a common form for sending, receiving and storing data to gleam insights. A group of 23 companies, the AllSeen Alliance has pledged to use the code underlying Qualcomm’s AllJoyn protocol to help get this process started. The consumer brands that have signed on include LG, Sharp, Haier, Panasonic and Sears Brand Management Corporation.

There are also many privacy issues for residents and consumers. There needs to be a way to have aggregate data without personal identifying information that meets EU standards, that works across devices and all touch points with consumers.

In addition to privacy issues, there is the danger that data collected by a sensor in the home, in the field or in a smartphone can be compromised. A recent survey by SSH Communications Security and Forrester Consulting found the rise of M2M connections in data centers across most industries has far outstripped the ability of organisations to secure them.
For example, a security service vendor that routinely researches large-scale spam and phishing campaigns discovered that last January, hackers successfully targeted and manipulated more than 100,000 consumer gadgets including smart appliances and routers in order to send out more than 750,000 malicious emails.

Once there are sufficient security safeguards, data ownership guidelines, and standards in place for data sharing the internet of things, it can become a pervasive part of our day to day life. Technology will be able to anticipate consumers’ needs and improve the quality of the services they receive. 

In time, having the ability to track consumers, no matter which device they use, will provide the data needed to complete the evolution from smart homes to smart shoppers.


Digital expert and enthusiast Tej Rekhi is Director of Product Innovation at Sizmek, where he helps agencies and marketers forge the right connections among leading-edge technology, consumer engagement and brand performance. Tej is an expert and...

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