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How Will the Internet of Things Change Brands?

By Andrea Fabbri

While reading yet another article on The Internet of Things, my mind ran wild with Star Trek-like fantasies. What will the hyper-pervasive, hyper-connected, hyper-capable, super-smart and frighteningly automated world of the IoT be like for us all?

The IoT represents the next wave of unprecedented global growth and economic progress. It is revolutionizing products and services and disrupting traditional models of value creation and delivery. 

Companies of all sizes are moving swiftly to take advantage of this new remarkable opportunity. For evidence, look no further than the myriad of mergers and acquisitions among chip vendors, system companies, and software vendors, with the latest example offered by Dell in its bid to acquire ECM for $33B, the largest tech deal ever.  Beyond the usual rationale for consolidation, companies are rushing to acquire IoT technologies and products to get a shot at winning in the new world: Avago Technologies buying Broadcom, Samsung picking SmartThings, Google buying Nest Labs, NXP acquiring Quintic.

How will the IoT change brands? I see three possible ways:

1. Brands will matter even more than they do today. As a brand strategist this may be perceived as a self-serving statement; but think about it, in the IoT world, companies will be able to offer endless functional possibilities empowered by innovations and technologies that can be easily added through smart, digital interfaces which will add value and transform products. In this new world the speed of product replication (already high and responsible for mounting commodity pressures) will increase and generate exponential differentiation challenges, making competition more intense. Companies will need to find smarter ways to the hearts and mind of customers to stand out.  In short, they will need to build a brand and evolve it to stay relevant.

2. Brands will become more personalized. The world empowered by the IoT is one dominated by pervasive data that can be used to hyper-tailor messages, offerings, functional value and brands. Brands will be able to become more personal, more relevant and the level of personalization will depend on access, ownership and swift use of data.    

3. Control of the brand experience will be crucial and more difficult. In the hyper-connected world enabled by the IoT, companies will have to take control of the integrated brand experience that will be driven by an ecosystem of interconnected devices and offerings. Technology interoperability will be key to delivering a smooth brand experience.

Science fiction? Maybe. What’s your prediction?