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How there’s more to IoT than an award-winning case study

Cameron Worth, founder, SharpEnd

Festival of Media MENA

How there’s more to IoT than an award-winning case study

Speaking at the third edition of Festival of Media on April 26, at the Waldorf Astoria, The Palm, in Dubai is Cameron Worth, founder of IoT agency SharpEnd. 

IoT is often the mainstay of case studies presented for ‘innovation’ and ‘technology’ at award shows. But is there more to IoT than a mere case study and do brands understand that?

“Brands want to be famous and technology gives them an opportunity to do that,” says Cameron Worth, founder of SharpEnd. The agency’s client roster boasts prominent names inlcuding Unilever, P&G and Nestlé. The solution to a one-off way of thinking, suggests Worth, is not talking about it as a “stunt’ but rather “as a program – an iterative process of scaling.” That said, it’s not always a bad idea to use IoT to generate some PR.

He provides Malibu as an example: the brand had glasses and coasters that allowed customers to reorder; it also deployed 50,000 NFC-enabled bottles at one of the UK’s biggest retailers. “One is an opportunity to scale and the other is an opportunity to get some press releases,” adds Worth.

Money talks

Worth says that for brands, it’s about being the first in the market to take the biggest step forward. But that step requires courage and money. The former can be mustered, but the latter is mostly a misconception, he notes: “It does require investment, but not as much as people are used to spending.” Feeding that misconception is lack of awareness and information and, perhaps more importantly, misinformation. Commenting on the agency-client relationship, he says: “Traditionally, agencies have been the port of call for brands when they need to know what to do next.” But agencies need a case study versus what the brand should do. This is why Worth believes brands can successfully utilize IoT by finding the right partner, a specialist agency that won’t charge an exorbitant amount to get a pilot going.

Meaningful insights

While Malibu’s NFC-enabled bottles generated a lot of buzz, what did it get the brand in terms of data and insights? “Every time a customer accessed the connected bottle experience, the existing panel of data platforms looked them up and were able to deliver personalized information to the customers,” he says. That data has now gone into the existing systems and E-CRM channels. But more importantly, what was the insight? For instance, 60 percent of the people engaged with the bottles through the NFC versus the URL on the rear of the bottle neck, indicating that “NFC is a good technology,” he reveals.

However, there is still a challenge in converting the raw data to produce meaningful insights; that’s where brands often stumble. Worth highlights another challenge: what data is interesting and why? It’s crucial to understand this before collecting data because, “if you’re not going to do anything meaningful with it, don’t collect it,” he says.

A bad example of an IoT campaign is KFC’s flying buckets, he says: “A Bluetooth-enabled chicken bucket is by far the worst idea ever within the IT space. Yes, you’re a chicken company; yes, you have a bucket. But do people really want to have group photos taken while they’re feasting on this greasy mess?”

This is what Worth means by agencies misinforming clients. “Having companies like KFC make a joke out of the whole process is what’s going to hold us back,” he adds. “The point is, if agencies keep making gimmicky executions in the market, our industry is going to be seen as a gimmick in the years to come in press releases and that’s going to impact everyone’s performance.”

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