Digital Opinion South Africa

It's coming... The Internet of Things

One of the biggest shifts since the start of the internet is coming, actually it is already happening. The Internet of Things is, and should be, the most hyped subject at the moment.

So says John Montgomery, COO of GroupM Interaction in North America, when he addressed delegates at the inaugural Social Media Week, which recently took place at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Gauteng.

"The Internet of Things is already way beyond hype. It is going to be big. How big? That depends on the source, but by 2020 it will be worth trillions of dollars."

John Montgomery
John Montgomery

Creating a smart environment

Already today 50 billion devices are connected to the Internet. He says most of us are connected through at least one device, but more than often not, through a number of devices. Already smartphones are being used to control certain functions for us, for example remotely setting your house temperature, activating your alarm, security surveillance. This is just the beginning.

"Imagine if connections could be made intelligently with us. Your air-con switched on half an hour before you got home, because it knows it has been a hot day, or the heat comes on because it is a cold day, the fridge tells you what is off... This is the Internet of Things. It is not about things at all, but about connections and this has huge implications for how we communicate."

But he asks, does the world really need fridge to tell us what's off? Are we lazy? "No it is about being practical, being healthy and saving time. Apps that are practical and useful are successful. In the Internet of Things, the fridge will tell us what we can make for supper with what we have in the fridge. It will also do this according to our wishes, for example is we want to lose weight. It will transform our environment as we walk through it."

Health apps

Devices such as the recently launched Apple Watch are part of the Internet of Things. He believes that with this device, Apple has a head start on others regarding the Internet of Things.

"However it is not the device that is important, it is how it allows you to connect to the Internet. It is about how things talk to each other without us and our smart devices need to fit into that."

The Internet of Things is a game changer. It will impact on every sector in our world. Apple believe the next big app is in the healthcare field. "Already we are seeing devices to assist patients, devices that monitor patients. These reduce risks and costs. It is exciting what is in the pipeline. Doctors will insert a tiny device into your body which will monitor how your system is reacting to medication from the inside. In fact it's here already with the Proteus Ingestible Sensor for tracking medication intake which was FDA approved in 2012," says Montgomery.

The Internet of Things will change the world of marketers from fixed to adaptive, while advertising will not be able to highjack the Internet of Things, but will add value.

Managing data

Big data could have been invented for the Internet of Things and it will produce realms of data. How that data is used and managed will be the challenge. Do we even have people who can make sense of the data? "The advertising industry is now looking for maths graduates who can string a sentence together. The new creative in the advertising industry will have to be able to see insights and be driven creatively by using the data to support his instincts."

"A major concern already is privacy and this will only increase as will be the fears of man being ruled by machines and technology. However it will not stop the collection of data," he says.

"The Internet of Things will not be stopped. The train has left the station and it is building up a head of steam and will wait for no-one."

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach is a marketing & media editor at Previously she freelanced in the marketing and media sector, including for Bizcommunity. She was editor and publisher of AdVantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B. She has a Masters in Financial Journalism from Wits.
Let's do Biz