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Rohini Srihari, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at University of Buffalo and Chief Scientific Officer at SmartFocus, discusses the opportunities the
Internet of Everything offers businesses
We have all inevitably heard the buzz around the
(IoT), a future world in which traditionally non-digital devices, like refrigerators and toasters, communicate with each other. In the world of IoT, appliances are networked together via household robots, which in turn communicate with other devices in order to carry out daily tasks.
But what is the Internet of Everything (IoE)?
More importantly, what is the opportunity it presents for businesses? In short, the IoE is what is achievable now. It is where previously disconnected digital objects, systems and data come together in a meaningful way. IoE is an all-encompassing interconnected existence that brings together four main elements:
- processes whereby people, data, and things interact
- inanimate objects and devices.
For instance, IoE would allow us to observe the internet ‘trail’ that we create based on our movement, online conversations and actions. When this is achieved it allow us to model and understand human behavior in a variety of applications. For example, we can take advantage of both mobile and behavioral context to deliver personalized and timely messages to customers.
The Guardian, the leading UK daily newspaper, recently referred to the IOE (opens in new tab) as “an opportunity to measure, collect and analyze an ever-increasing variety of behavioral statistics. In theory, the mash-up and cross-correlation of this data could revolutionize the targeted marketing of products and services.” (June 20, 2014)
With beacon, machine learning and natural language processing, businesses have the capability to deliver personalized, hyper-aware content to prospective customers and partners; engaging customers more effectively and opportunistically. Traditional recommendation systems are focused solely on “which” products or services to suggest to customers, based on the habits of people with similar transactional history. With IoE, businesses have the opportunity to go a step further, and learn “how”, “when” and “where” to make suggestions – what we call “context aware communication”.
Furthermore, IoE can be used in many other ways – from providing the infrastructure for an application to alert people about events in their neighborhood, to health and wellness applications that help keep people fit and healthy. Mobile platforms like the new iOS and personal robots such as the JIBO robot developed at MIT enable more sophisticated applications, in which behavioral models can be developed to create lifelike interactions.
IoE opportunity from a Technology Perspective
From a technology perspective, the fundamental opportunity that the IoE offers businesses is the ability to model customer behaviour and context by connecting a diverse range of digital sources. By understanding how consumers engage with brands through geospatial tracking, beacon sensors, social media, and the customer data we have via digital marketing campaigns, purchasing history and call centre transcripts, it is possible to communicate with customers in the moment, irrespective of whether it’s in store, on their mobile, online or via email.
Machine learning models are now capable of operating on very large and diverse sets of observed data, a development that we are taking advantage of. We have access to data which informs us as to what contexts (i.e. combination of customer profiles, marketing message, delivery method etc.) have resulted in successful marketing outcomes. It is then possible to leverage machine learning technology to understand the correlation between user profiles and the types of recommendations they are likely to be responsive to.
With all of this data analysis, however, it is important to understand how brands can use what they know and can predict what consumers will want, while still respecting data privacy. The good news is that when creating a model based on behavior, it is not necessary to identify each unique customer. Instead, it is possible to distill the key characteristics that are needed for a customer profile – data such as demographics, interests, purchasing history, etc. By clustering these anonymous customers’ profiles, we can create “pseudo profiles” that represent different and distinct customer classes. A new customer can then be mapped to the most similar cluster based on observed data that is gathered and further used to personalize communications.
It’s an exciting time and the first businesses to pursue insightful, context-aware communication will no doubt prosper. Businesses now have access to the expertise and ability to analyze content and social media conversations, leverage machine learning to understand what the large sets of data are telling them, use recommendation systems to dynamically create engaging, real-time conversations, as well as deploy mobile technologies to keep in touch with their on-the-go consumers. These are fundamental components of a scalable solution that is able to continually provide consumers with engaging marketing, which is all driven by what we know about customers.
Rohini Srihari is Chief Scientific Officer at SmartFocus. At SmartFocus, we have the technology to help you truly know your customer and engage them with the right message, at the perfect moment, wherever they are – in store and online across all of their preferred channels. SmartFocus is the Internet of Everything solution for brands. It includes beacon technology that knows when your customer visits a physical store; real-time predictive recommendations generated at the precise moment they open your email; and powerful insights that use smart analysis of Big Data to effortlessly generate a truly personal experience. Every year, we execute more than five million marketing campaigns, manage more than five billion customer records, and deliver more than 55 billion personalized interactions. Global brands such as French Connection, Speedo and Mercedes-Benz rely on SmartFocus to deliver business-critical, joined-up marketing campaigns that make a difference to their customers and to the growth of their business.