Preparing for a connected future: Exploring technology in the internet of things era

Kinetic Worldwide, WPP’s out-of-home media planning and buying agency, recently brought the industry together for Moving Minds 2015, showcasing the latest in technology and media innovation and exploring how these relate to the physical world around us.

Forget the scaremongers and their tales of Terminator robots building themselves, the rise of machine-to-machine communication is an exciting advance for all that internet of things (IoT) promises for brands, agencies and consumers themselves.

We are at the cusp of the IoT era and can only imagine where the technology can take us, yet real progress remains some way off while shared frameworks and standards are hammered out, says Kinetic’s head of digital innovation Rosh Singh.

With shared frameworks the world becomes a more interesting place, particularly in the field of advertising, he believes. Chairing a panel of digital experts at Moving Minds 2015, Singh talks of the importance of unlocking machine-to-machine communication, which by 2030 will account for more than half of all data produced.

“The IoT has been a common theme today. The key to usable data is a shareable framework and for machine-to-machine to become a reality,” says Singh.

Prask Sutton, chief innovation officer of Nock, concurs, but believes we are at least a decade, if not two, away. It all depends on how quickly people are willing to move – and that’s down to cost, he says, adding that the likes of Google and Facebook will become the gatekeepers.

That reality is already happening, according to Miles Quitmann, chief commercial officer of Praxama, who points to the recent Google announcement that it is launching its own US mobile network to test IoT products and services.

Jonny Tooze, Lab Lateral managing director, concurs: “Google is the bridge. There’s so much proprietary technology and that’s why we need standards. [For this to happen] we need to start aggregating information into sensible usage and Google has a big play in this.”

One big stumbling block remains the issue of data ownership. Who does it belong to – the brands, user or framework holders?

This key question is slowing down technology and has stumped the adoption of near-field communication (NFC) and mobile payments, says the panel. Tooze suggests that ‘ownership’, which everyone wants, is not necessarily the answer and those with vested interests should perhaps look to lease data instead.

“There will be a massive squabble because everyone wants to own the data. But do you need to ‘own’ the data to use the data?” Sutton believes that those tasked with security will “call the shots”. “That will be on the internet itself rather than the ‘things’ in the internet of things. That’s where the power lies.”

Yet, argues Tooze, that security is nowhere near where it should be yet. “A lot of high-profile people are talking about robot overlords. The reality isn’t Terminator robots building themselves. The disruption will come from errors of what we want from these systems. The security around infrastructure is nowhere near where it should be.”

That may be some way off, perhaps, but what is the hope for iBeacons, and how can the industry prevent the hype/disillusionment cycle of NFC? “They’re here, they’re happening and there are multiple trials in out-of-home this year,” says Singh of iBeacons. Yet to push, or not to push?

Quitmann says: “The nightmare for all of us is ‘spam’. The users will answer with their own actions – by turning off Bluetooth or deleting the app. We must allow the control of engagement to be led by the owner of that smartphone.”

Sutton adds: “We should look at getting people to opt in rather than waiting for people to opt out. It’s back to content being interesting and fun and not just a boring old ad.”

This piece first appeared in the 18 March issue of The Drum. To buy a copy or to start subscribing go to The Drum Store.

This content was sponsored by Kinetic but all content is editorially independent.

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The Drum is a global media platform and the biggest marketing website in Europe. We produce The Drum magazine, 30 awards and events and manage The Drum Network which aims to make independently minded agencies more successful. We also help brands find the right agencies to work with through the Recommended Agency Register (RAR).

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