The Internet of Behaviors is one of the top tech trends of 2021. This is partly due to the pandemic shifting how consumers interact with brands, consequently requiring companies to adjust how they engage with consumers. However, before we dive into what the Internet of Behaviors (IoB) is, one must first understand the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT refers to any device that is connected to the internet such as smartphones, virtual assistants like Alexa, fitness wearables, appliances, TVs, and more. To learn more about the Internet of Things, check out our article explaining the technology and how it’s used.
In short, the Internet of Behaviors utilizes collected user data to influence behaviors. So, what does that really mean?
Essentially, companies analyze the data collected from a variety of Internet of Things devices. Businesses then use this data to change consumer behavior. Some of the data companies may record include a person’s geographical location, time spent on a particular app, and what time a person wakes up among many other pieces of information. More often than not, the goal of changing consumer behavior is to get them to buy or engage a particular product or service. However, this technology can also be used to change the behaviors of other stakeholders, including employees to ensure they are following correct procedures.
Data from consumers can be amassed from numerous sources, including a company’s website, social media profiles, sensors, telematics, beacons, health monitors (ex. Fitbit), and a wide variety of other devices and places.
Each of these sources collects different pieces of data. For example, a website might track the number of times a particular user views a specific webpage or how long they stay on a page. Furthermore, telematics might monitor how hard the driver of a vehicle brakes or the driver’s average speed.
Businesses collect and analyze the data for a multitude of reasons. These reasons include helping companies make informed business decisions, personalizing marketing tactics, product and service development, driving user experience design, and more.
To help analyze this data, companies set benchmarks in place. Meaning, when a particular action(s) is performed by a user, the company then begins to persuade the user to change their behavior. For example, if the user returns to a company’s page selling men’s skinny jeans more than three times, the digital retailer might serve the user a pop-up ad offering them 25% off a pair of jeans. The digital retailer is aiming to get the consumer to buy the pair of jeans.
Another example is that if a driver regularly brakes too abruptly, telematics can alert the driver to make them aware of a recurring issue. In this example, behavior telematics attempts to change the driver’s braking habits.
An additional aspect of the Internet of Behaviors is combining data from different sources and analyzing it to make a decision. Pulling data from various sources provides companies with the ability to create in-depth, user profiles for each user. These profiles can then be examined to determine the best course of action to take regarding the user.
For example, a consumer named Ted comments on a picture of a new sneaker on brand’s Instagram page. A few days later, Ted then heads to brand’s website and looks at the same shoe. A week passes, and Ted is on YouTube watching a commercial featuring the shoe. Meanwhile, the brand is tracking all the touchpoints Ted makes along the way with the digital content. The brand can then synthesize this data and develop a course of action on how to convert Ted into a customer, since the brand identified that Ted has a high-interest in its shoe. Actions the brand may take include remarketing display ads or emailing Ted a discount code.
Another example is if a consumer records their workouts on their smartwatch. When the watch is in workout mode, it can track the user’s heart rate. Therefore, when the user’s heart rate reaches or exceeds a certain level, the watch can send a notification to the user reminding them to drink water. This is beneficial for the user because they are reminded to hydrate and cool down, while the company is provided with valuable insight of how the watch is used.
The Internet of Behaviors is an innovative technology for businesses; however, the tech does come with ethical concerns. The majority of worries stem from user and consumer privacy.
Controversy surrounds the intrusiveness of the data collected. This is because the data can be obtained from countless locations where consumers may not even realize they are being tracked. Furthermore, the sensitive nature of some of the collected data is also a concern. For example, if a consumer is wearing a smartwatch, the data collected by the wearable technology can be highly private information, such as the consumer’s heart rate. Therefore, users may not be aware of all the data the watch is collecting, nor how the data will be shared (or sold) or will be used to influence their behaviors.
There is also the concern about cybersecurity. Businesses are currently flocking to the cloud to use as their company data warehouse. Consequently, hackers and cybercriminals may attempt to gain access to this data and do with it as they please, including leaking or selling the sensitive data.
Currently, laws regarding the Internet of Behavior vary widely, but we should see more consistency in the coming years.
The Internet of Behaviors provides companies with cutting-edge ways of marketing products and services, along with influencing user and employee behaviors. This technology is extremely beneficial for businesses since they can optimize their relationship with the consumer based on the collected data. Behavioral data technology continues to evolve. However, with the proliferation of new IoT devices, the debate over what constitutes essential data and responsible use is just getting started.
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