IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling

Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor | 5/22/2014 | 35 comments

Curtis Franklin Jr.
You're about to know precisely where your customers are and what they're doing. Are you ready for Big Data Advertising Everywhere?

The combination of the Internet of Things and big data has the potential to allow pinpoint advertising on a scale that most consumers have never considered. Google, for example, has already been forced to deny that it has plans underway to put ads on your thermostat. That doesn't mean, of course, that it will never happen -- just that there hasn't yet been a document containing the idea appear on the Google campus with "Plan" on the title page.

Futurists have for years talked about the possibility of a refrigerator that keeps track of your groceries and builds a shopping list based on perishables that have been used. LG has even demonstrated a smart fridge that does just that. How big a leap is it, really, from a refrigerator that keeps track of your shopping list to a refrigerator that shows you ads for the best deals on your next bottle of ketchup, or a coupon for a nice bottle of chardonnay to go with the fish you just added to the list?

From IT's point of view this is, in many ways, simply an extension of the sort of big-data opportunity that already fills corporate planning sessions with visions of predictive insight on customer (and potential customer!) behavior. The technology, while still evolving, is practically old-hat by now. The real challenge for the IT department is going to come in the very sensitive areas of security and privacy.

Anyone who doesn't believe that privacy now sits at the top of public consciousness need only look as far as Target for an alternate view. The POS data breach has already cost the retail giant a CIO, CEO, and millions of dollars in lost shareholder value. The fact is, no one knows what the final cost of the breach will be. What is known is that customers saw the loss of their credit card data as an enormous breach of their privacy, and they're quite willing to punish Target for its perceived sins.

Now, imagine how the public would feel if the privacy breach included financial information along with behavioral data. It's fair to say that the reaction of consumers would be dramatic -- and the actions taken on their behalf by regulators and attorneys would likely be just as dramatic.

This isn't to say that there's no value, either to the enterprise or its customers, in collecting and analyzing the data that will be generated by a growing number of "smart" things around our houses and places of business. The key for IT is understanding just how valuable that information is -- and being a representative of the consumer in helping the rest of the enterprise understand the information is valuable. Anything so valuable must be treated with the utmost care and kept under the most strict sort of security. That just makes sense.

So before you allow the marketing department and Chief Digital Officer to get ahead of the organization on big data and the Internet of Things, start thinking about how you're going to secure all the data as it comes and goes and gets pushed around the analytical engines of your enterprise. Be ready. Somewhere out there, a refrigerator and a thermostat are waiting to talk to you.

— Curtis Franklin Jr., Executive Editor, Enterprise Efficiency Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn pageFriend me on Facebook

View Comments: Oldest First | Newest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 4   >   >>
Rich Krajewski   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/22/2014 11:56:44 AM
I think
I think the refrigerator has been the target of the IT department for a long time now.
SunitaT   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/23/2014 9:05:15 AM
Re: I think
People are not really ready for a big drastic change. Off course people will want to find out where there customers are and what they are doing but not at the expense of breaching their privacy. This is a very delicate issue that should further be put into consideration. They should carry out test balloons to see whether this concept will work and whether it will be accepted by the people. Change is good but drastic change may be the total opposite.
Pedro Gonzales   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/23/2014 9:58:02 AM
Re: I think
@ sunitaT.  I agree. I woudn't feel comfortable for my fridge and my thermostat telling a company my behavioral patterns.  How would I be assure that the company is protecting all the information they have about me?  I think they should do a focus group and a usability test on people' home to see whether this project is as effective as marketed.  Although, I do like the idea of having a shopping list available.
jastro   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/23/2014 10:59:00 AM
Re: I think
>> How big a leap is it, really, from a refrigerator that keeps track of your shopping list to a refrigerator that shows you ads

Good point @curtis. No leap at all.

>> start thinking about how you're going to secure all the data as it comes and goes and gets pushed around the analytical engines of your enterprise.

So as CIOs continue thinking outside of the IT box, what path do you (CIOs and others) recommend? Any examples? What are the keys to making it happen?

When we talk about "the future" we always tend to glamorize it, i.e., just the good stuff, like a fridge that indicates "more juice" for breakfast.

Except it's always a bit bleaker, like a fridge that locks itself and tells you when you need to stop eating now to lose those calories. How's that for >> predictive insight on customer (and potential customer!) behavior. More Stephen King than Louisa May Alcott.
Zaius   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/23/2014 10:01:35 PM
Re: I think
Gone are the days when fogetting something at grocery makes us feel stupid! Now, I will never forget tthe milk is finished, and I will need to buy a dozen eggs tomorrow.
Rich Krajewski   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/23/2014 10:20:43 PM
Re: I think
"will need to buy a dozen eggs tomorrow."

And when your refrigerator tells you that, it could also tell your health insurance company and your employer that you are eating too much cholesterol, and are therefore incurring a health risk, even if genetically you and your family do not suffer health risks from high levels of dietary cholesterol. Your insurance rate will go up, or you might simply be fired.
SunitaT   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/24/2014 2:10:15 PM
Re : IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling
Coming up with a refrigerator that keeps track of groceries is an awesome idea! The best part of it is that it even goes further and comes up with a shopping list based on used products. The main aim of IT is to make work easier by improving technology.  By coming up with such a fridge, they will have made work much easier. I think the next invention after a smart phone should be the smart fridge. This will mark an upgraded level of technology.
stotheco   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/25/2014 1:17:00 PM
Re: I think
You have a point. There's no bigger turn off to consumers than retailers and companies that don't respect their privacy. This is a very sensitive subject matter and if you do cross that line, then you'd better prepare for losses all around.
stotheco   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/25/2014 1:25:12 PM
Re: I think
Refrigerators have come a long way since their debut. I honestly would not want my fridge to stream ads while I'm trying to find some leftovers to heat up for dinner or whatever it is I'm looking for in there. Grocery lists, yes. Food inventory, yes. Ads, no.
stotheco   IoT: Your Thermostat Is Calling   5/25/2014 1:26:09 PM
Re: I think
I agree with Pedro. Sure, it might only be food information or eating habits, but it's still information that I wouldn't want to share with a bigwig company that might use it to sell me stuff or something. Just not something I would be interested in.
Page 1 / 4   >   >>


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