Data, Data Everywhere

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Data, Data Everywhere
Data, Data Everywhere

In case you hadn't noticed, cities are getting smarter. And in ways that mirror innovative opportunities for marketers.

The urban environment might not feel so smart when the traffic is snarled, the commute breaks down, there are three new potholes on the way to work, and parking is impossible. But for the last few years, technology — the Internet of Things in particular — has been offering urban authorities better ways to deal with these problems. 

Data from beacons, sensors, and cameras, properly managed and supplemented by human-reported mobile data, offers the opportunity to automate significant elements of the urban infrastructure. From traffic lights to parking and congestion, from road repairs to air quality, once a digital connection is available, better management becomes possible. (To read more about the countless experiments and projects in this space, just try searching online for "smart cities" or "future cities.")

Global tech solutions vendor Pitney Bowes has taken a deep plunge into grand scale IoT for  with its Confirm-EAM offering. Enterprise asset management leverages IoT-style connectivity to manage and maintain assets, proactively and reactively, short-term and long-term; including managing costs, and responding to user/citizen inquiries. It's being used by government authorities, from Aberdeen Scotland to Ballarat, Australia.

What's in it for marketers?  No, not access to government authority data. But Clarence Hempfield, VP of product management, location intelligence at Pitney Bowes, sees an opportunity in the IoT to "deliver impactful capabilities to businesses," related to its potential to add to Pitney Bowes' already vast geo-location data pool.

"Devices in the home, wearables, drones; our customers want to collect the data," he says. And it's a lot of data. As we reported last month, a partnership with Hortonworks allows clients to manage very large quantities of demographic, mobile, and location data in a big data environment. This week, Pitney Bowes announced a new partnership with Cloudera which will make geospatial processing and data quality solutions available to users on the Cloudera Enterprise platform. 

Cloudera clients in the financial services, telecomms, and insurance verticals will benefit by being able to mitigate risk, improve offerings, and optimize marketing, based on an improved understanding of where customers are.

"We play in a few different places," says Hempfield, explaining that Pitney Bowes' data sets can be deployed within customers' existing tech infrastructures, or that Pitney Bowes itself can provide the customer information management layer too, for example through its engagement and experience solution.

But is the prospect of driving tangible business insights from the vast IoT data world intimidating for some clients? Yes and no, says Hempfield. "I can see absolutely both lines of thought in some of our customers. There is a little bit of fatigue when it comes to the latest tech buzz. But some are on the cutting edge," he says, citing telecomms and insurance. "They clearly see the potential to run more effective businesses."

Retail, he admits, is already weary of location-based marketing "which has not been as effective as some expected it to be." In fact, when it comes to retail, "I tend to suggest maybe don't directly jump into location-based advertising just yet." If brands lack good quality data, and aren't profiling customers accurately; in particular, if retail brands are still keeping brick and mortar, online, and loyalty-type data in separate siloes; then they're going to be putting out irrelevant messages. "You've done more damage to yourself."

Data needs to be clean. And as far as location data is concerned, "we've proven it's not all created equal," Hempfield says. Get these things right, of course, and there's a connected world to win.

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