Evoke’s technical director Dean Ward’s reflections following Grant Thornton’s Internet of Things (IoT) panel discussion
In June and July 2016 we enjoyed numerous blue-sky talks and exhibitions as part of the International Festival Business 2016, with commercial director Neil Clark claiming his five-minutes-of-fame, discussing the new business opportunities and information available to growing exporters such as ourselves on North West Tonight!
But a highlight for me was Grant Thornton’s Internet of Things (IoT) discussion, hosted at the firm’s Liverpool office in the Royal Liver Building as part of The Edge, a fringe festival running alongside the main IFB programme.
I was invited to sit on a panel which included Tim Griggs of multi-national consultancy firm Arup and Steven Revill of Urban Tide – a business specialising in planning and delivering smart cities. Our brief was to discuss the opportunities and benefits of the IoT, along with the potential pitfalls.
Cisco – the world’s largest networking company – has recently increased its forecast for the economic value created by the “Internet of Everything” in the year 2020 to $19 trillion. With retail and manufacturing two of the industries expected to benefit from this, it’s a topic I’m genuinely excited by.
The implications for retailers are numerous. Our clients ask us design the end to end customer experience, and increasing connectivity between devices – from smartphones, to tablets, to wearables – is set to revolutionise this.
Technology is already in available to allow in-store displays and kiosks to change to show a product that may appeal to a customer, depending on their smartphone browsing history, or to monitor the amount of time spent looking at a product and follow that up with emails and social media adverts targeted specifically to that customer’s interests.
By analysing the collective data, retailers can track footfall, both in terms of volume and actual routes taken around the store, and see which elements of store design are working and which need changing.
The potential stumbling block to all of this innovation taking root is: are customers happy give up their personal data in this way?
Arguably, as much as it may improve the high street shopping experience, data and connectivity used primarily benefits sellers and the uptake and continued development will be undoubtedly be commercially driven.