UnboundID interviews Jessica Groopman, a Senior Researcher at Altimeter Group where she conducts research on disruptive technologies. Jessica specializes in digital strategy, Internet of Things, social data integration, content marketing, and customer experience, with a focus on how data is shifting business models and behaviors. 


Unbound ID: There has been a lot of discussion in business and IT circles over the past year about the Internet of Things. How much of this is now reality in terms of impact on business and customer experience strategy?

Groopman: It is still very early days. Our firm has been doing research on consumer brands but their efforts are in the pilot stage still, so they are not sharing results. The big challenge is that the term Internet of Things is hard to understand. It’s flown over marketers’ heads. It’s still very much a technology play, so IT people get it because its very infrastructure related. But the value for marketers is revolutionary in terms of what they can gather about customer experience and what they can provide– as in improved features and services for their customers.

UnboundID: What are marketers thinking about as relates to IoT?

Groopman: The Holy Grail for marketing is content. How do we get the right content to the right person at the right place and using the right platform? Through using the dialogs that data creates between brand and consumer, it’s also about determining the right service opportunity. For marketers, that means how to get relevant content to people in ways that are not annoying, redundant and spammy. IoT will change targeting in positive and negative ways. Online retargeting is creepy. But if that kind of targeting is happening offline–in a store, car or through a connected appliance at home– the customer can’t just walk away from their PC. This brings a higher risk for alienating the customer. Yet the opportunities are tremendous…a different ballgame. If the consumer is using a connected product, every time she uses it, she is sending a data stream to the manufacturer. That’s light-years away from what marketers have today in terms of data. Brands are going to have incredible ability to observe how products are functioning and how people are using them.

UnboundID: Recently, you wrote, “The impact IoT will have on marketing attribution can’t be understated. ” Can you elaborate?

Groopman: Marketing attribution is connecting everything that a customer or prospect does to a business outcome. The question is, how much opportunity and onslaught of data will IoT generate? We’re already seeing so many new platforms and tools in this market which means that marketers are getting more behind every day. Marketing attribution today is not very advanced. Most brands are still operating with the last-click attribution model. What did my customer last touch before making a purchase? There are now hundreds of touchpoints to consider, many of which are coming from emerging technologies like wearables and touchscreens. There is so much behind every purchase in terms of information available to help consumers research and evaluate a product. So not being able to track those data points to marketing attribution is a huge risk and a huge blind spot for marketers. The more you know, the better you can advertise, engage, and inspire consumers to consider you in the first place.

UnboundID: What are some best practices for IoT marketing?

Groopman: First I think is doing a better job of connecting the dots between how a company uses data and the value of data sharing for consumers. Here’s what we’re collecting and here’s the value to you. Individuals are typically faced with the binary question of “yes” or “no” to share their information to use a service. But there are gray areas and gradient permissions. If we asked people to share a limited data set, they will get one thing. But by sharing more, they will receive more value in terms of services, features or discounts from the company. Gradient permissions and transparency helps build trust. Companies need to think outside of the box when it comes to the notion of value. Everyone wants free stuff but consumers really want convenience or personalized service. If you’re looking for a lawnmower, you might love to see a comparison guide for 10 different lawnmowers to help you make the decision. Seeing that a brand is using my data to get to know me better can be just as compelling as getting the 20% off coupon.

UnboundID: Is there a role for Consumer Identity Management in IoT?

Groopman: Yes, identity management is critical to pull all these systems together that contain customer and product feedback data. Identity management systems sit squarely in that space. If a company has a lot of data about how an individual acts in the store, within applications and from the past, the identity management platform can bring all of this together. The integration process is extremely complicated. Yet for Internet of Things to deliver the holy grail of brand marketing, building trust and convenience for consumers, those data silos need to go away. If they do, companies can build more personal and relevant experiences with their customers.

UnboundID: There’s been an incredible focus in recent years on digital marketing. Is there a danger in this – losing the creativity and personal touch of sales and marketing?

Groopman: While Internet of Things is so data centric, the potential is that it can actually take us back to the old days. You used to go into the grocery store and the butcher knew your name, what you liked, what your kids liked. Re-creating that small town community feel is a huge opportunity. But of course there’s tremendous risk to get this wrong with poor targeting. If done well, Internet of Things can rebuild the human connection between brands and people. It’s particularly interesting when integrated with loyalty programs. If you are a premium customer at a home supply store, let’s say, and you receive a personal message a few days after making a purchase, checking to see if the products were to your expectations, combined with an offer for your next visit, that’s powerful.

Follow Jessica on Twitter @jessgroopman.

IoT holds the potential to transform how brands engage with customers in powerful and positive ways. But how can we address privacy issues to ensure IoT thrives? Hear what UnboundID CEO, Steve Shoaff, has to say during his presentation at the SXSW Interactive conference

This article was originally published on the UnboundID Blog.