Tens of billions of connected sensors and objects will surround us in the next 10 years, and it’s time for business-to-consumer (B2C) brands to pay attention. In the near future, the internet of things (IoT) will enable brands to create and deepen relationships with consumers and will force marketing departments to shift from managing products to crafting experiences. This is according to a new Forrester report, which separates IoT hype from reality and includes case studies on how different industries (health, automotive, insurance, and retail) will tap into the IoT opportunity in the next couple of years.

Forrester believes that the IoT will overlap with, but not replace, mobile: “Reports of the IoT killing mobile are greatly exaggerated, if not completely inaccurate,” analyst Thomas Husson writes in his blog on the research. “Instead, brands need to define engagement scenarios where smartphones are the primary interface and remote control of connected experiences.”

Other key findings from the report incude the following:

  • Forrester predicts that in 2016, a third of US online adults will use some form of IoT across the home, wearables, and car. However, usage in the next two years will primarily be led by wearables and smartwatches. Adoption of connected devices in smart homes or cars remains low — especially in Europe. Only 7% of US online adults use any smart home device.
  • Building new experiences on top of connected products is the key for marketers, yet most of them — apart from Nest and new connected product startups, such as Netatmo, Parrot, and Withings — deliver limited utility today. To deliver IoT-powered experiences, marketers will have to act on data, keep control of the customer relationship, move from products to experiences, and elevate privacy and security to a business imperative.
  • What’s next? Within 10 years, mobile moments will still matter but will progressively become almost invisible: Lights will turn on and your preferred music will play automatically based on your mood and context — forcing marketers to design blended ecosystem experiences and tell stories without even using a screen.

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