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

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