Internet of Things Means More Data for Global Marketers


ThinkstockPhotos-160304837The Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M have been used in certain niche industries for many years, ever since Internet technology became more widely available. Now, IoT is starting to filter into our everyday lives. From how we do business to how we interact with each other and the world around us.

The central theme of Localization World 2015 in Berlin was The Internet of Things.  Localization leaders, futurists and globalization experts led discussions and presentations at LocWorld28 on topics related to how IoT will affect global business. One key area that the IoT will impact is global marketing and how we communicate with customers around the world. Localization will play a critical role in the interconnectivity of all things.

IDC forecasts that the worldwide market for IoT solutions will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020.  Cisco estimated that 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020. To put that in perspective, that’s six devices for every one of the eight billion people expected to be on the planet.

As the IoT continues to filter into our everyday lives, global marketing will move beyond email and laptops to engaging with their “Generation Z” customers through smart, wearable devices and tablets through digital media. The challenge for marketers is to develop a view of customer habits which will help create enhanced brand, messaging and services which add value to the user experience and can be delivered through these new devices, in a language that is understood by all those accessing it.

A byproduct of the IoT is the huge amounts of data generated by all the users. Global marketers must be able to use this data to make informed localization decisions. It will impact future revenues and product launch strategies. The more data that is amassed about the user, the more invaluable the product becomes.

Mark Holden, head of futures at media agency Arena Media UK, says, “Clearly this data could be useful for brands, helping to build rich profiles of user behavior and to do more intelligently manage pricing. However, if connected products are to collect data on use, we’ll have to ensure there is a value exchange for users: that we’re using the data to better tailor brand experiences, improve products or reward loyalty.” If content relating to products or marketing campaigns are being accessed in wider geographical markets, then marketers must localize this content.

Harvard Business Review recently published an article about how connectivity will allow brands to crowdsource their advertising, gain real-time feedback on products and have an ongoing dialogue with their customers – through their products. This has huge implications for the localization community. To have an ongoing dialogue with your global customers means you need to speak and understand their local language and have the right people, process and technology in place to make this happen. And this could happen almost real-time with immediate translation.

Welocalize CEO, Smith Yewell, recently shared insights on the future of the localization industry.  He noted that you need to use existing IoT data and harness predictive analytics to be able to forecast localization needs for marketing campaign materials. It will define how content is translated, by whom, when it is delivered, and the at what level of impact.  It will define true return on content (ROC). It’s the future and it’s now.

Global marketers who embrace the IoT will be the winners, creating products, online campaigns and services that learn from the way consumers use them. Collecting data and monitoring user behavior is nothing new; however, the growth of the IoT means the amount of data we are collecting will significantly increase.

Analyzing user behavior gives a company more value and allows global marketing campaigns to be more tailored for better engagement. From a localization perspective, we can start to use this data to help shape localization strategies and even pass on data, in understandable forms, to the translators and linguists so they have a better idea of who they are translating for and in what context.

The prospect of a world where everyday objects can communicate with each other has unleashed an avalanche of amazing innovations. Such innovation also presents market challenges. Security is a big issue, both on a personal and business level.  How can we ensure our lives are secure when everything is connected? If someone hacks into our fridge how can we make sure they can’t access our entire network?  This will also have to be addressed through a “local” connection to the user – in their native language.

The amount of data we will have access to will increase exponentially.  We need to start thinking which data is most valuable to us and how we use that data to add value to our consumers. Companies need to consider how they will store, track, analyse and interpret the vast amount of data available and use it to their global benefit. Where does localization play a role? Everywhere in the Internet of Things.

IoT creates as many opportunities as it does challenges for marketers. The opportunities are endless. The challenges we can overcome by working collaboratively and connected.



Lauren Southers is a marketing specialist on the global marketing and business support team at Welocalize.