The Internet of Things is coming alive, connecting us to our homes, and the devices in them, in amazing ways. As everything from our appliances to our front doors becomes “smart,” what should brands be focused on?
The way you make me feel
The not-so-surprising answer is: consumer sentiment. The way consumers feel about literally everything is always important in social analytics, but more so as we break new ground that has potential to be both awesome and dicey.
Consider an item like Apple’s soon to be released HomePod. The latest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistants, following on the heels of Amazon Echo and Google Home, HomePod is taking a more practical approach to its functionality. It’s largely a music player, with a few other tricks up its sleeve. Is that enough to get excited about? There’s an argument to be made that it is:
“Of course, Siri via HomePod will be able to send text messages, recount news and weather updates, and manipulate HomeKit-enabled devices like thermostats and garage door openers. But not everyone wants to buy networked lights just to tell Siri to toggle them. Music, if not the killer app for IoT hubs, is at least something more than a handful of people care about.”
The emphasis there is ours, and it’s noteworthy.
AI assistants are only useful if they offer up information and services consumers want. So what do consumers want – and what will they want in the future? It will take social sentiment analysis and ongoing, real-time trend monitoring to find answers and offer up products and services consumers actually want – before your competitors do.
Exploring the possibilities
Sometimes it’s the simple things that matter most. Imagine Alexa/Siri, et al knowing to ask if you want to order a pizza when your TV is tuned to football on a Sunday afternoon. The savviest brands will be those clued in to such events and behaviors – and offering specials for just the right thing at the perfect moment.
Sometimes the appeal is the tech itself – if it offers a new and easier way of doing everyday things.
Home security is another big area of opportunity. Already we have SkyBell, which lets you answer your doorbell, and speak to the person on your doorstep, even when you aren’t there. But what if you’re not paying attention to your phone when such instances occur? Or what if someone were trying to break in through a window in your backyard?
Could Siri be programmed to speak on your behalf? Maybe she could announce she’s calling the local police – and then do so – to scare off would-be intruders. All while digitally recording video of your home’s perimeter, of course.
Convenience vs. privacy
That brings us to another key concern – and one where, again, sentiment will tell you everything: privacy. Because as you’re creating the next great product for the IoT and home connectedness, you’ve got to consider how much consumers are willing to give up – and how much they absolutely aren’t.
Phil Schiller, Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing for Apple says, “The HomePod doesn’t record anything until the user addresses Siri.” That’s an important distinction, and something that still may not be enough for some consumers.
Then again, there are arguments for having things recorded, and being able to access that information. But finding that balance, and figuring out the legalities, will take time.
It’s likely the rules of the road will be designed throughout the journey itself. And your social listening tools should be cranking all the way – keeping tabs on every development, and every consumer emotion, so you know how to proceed with your brand’s strategy in the new connected world.
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