The lines between the consumer Internet and IoT are blurring fast

In the consumer sector, advances in mobile and POS are making the retail space look more and more like an Internet of Things.

scan it mobile retail app
Credit: Adam Hunger/Reuters

As retailers look to personalize shopping experiences for their customers, the realm of the "consumer Internet" is looking more and more like the "internet of things." Retailers are using beacons to talk to Bluetooth enabled smartphones, providing much more granular location data. Startups are looking at ways to use video feeds to evaluate emotional reactions to products live in stores, and of course the point of sale device is getting smarter and interacting in new ways with consumer's watches and phones. The question is no longer "are they near the store" but "what department are they in, and what are they looking at?"

The Internet of Things (IoT) is sometimes talked about as the industrial Internet, but it's not just for heavy industry any more. Big data analysis of information from beacons and point of sale devices to optimize consumer sales isn't that far afield from optimizing power plant generation based on sensor data. In both cases, there is A LOT of data. In the consumer marketplace add to the machine data of the point of sale, the consumer's social media data, their likes, their dislikes, their tweets and their posts. How can you drive additional sales for a merchant through a carefully placed offer? Improve the personalization of a shopper's application to make their buying experience better? Provide personalized pricing on the shelf based on your relationship with the retailer? Link different marketplaces together in new ways to enable better loyalty programs?

mobile retail ts Thinkstock

The consumer Internet, the industrial Internet, IoT; at the end of the day, they all have one thing in common. The Internet, combined with new analytics platforms, is disrupting industries by providing new ways to slice and dice huge volumes of data to personalize, optimize and create whole new ways to shop, generate power, hail a ride, or connect with a consumer. If you aren't in front of this digital wave, regardless of your business, watch out. It can change your game before you have time to react. 

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