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Will the Internet of Things pass your business by?

Will the Internet of Things pass your business by?

You may not know it, but we're already in the Third Wave of the internet, or the Internet of Things (IoT), as it's come to be known.

Yep, that's right, and if your business is typical of most, you're still stuck at the end of the First Wave – at best.

You're probably thinking “not only do I have no clue what the Third Wave is, but I don't even know what the First and Second were.”

Steve Case, founder of AOL explains it this way (summary shown in the photo above):

  • the First Wave was from 1985-1999 - “laying the foundation for the online world.” This is when I started Glerin.
  • the Second Wave was from 2000-2015 - “search, social, and ecommerce startups building on top of the internet.” During this time we were building mobile apps and developing targeted solutions to clients' problems.
  • and the Third Wave began in 2016 - “ubiquitous connectivity allows entrepreneurs to transform major, real-world sectors.” We're looking to the future and developing proprietary products.

Take a minute and think about your business in relation to these three time periods. I'm willing to bet that, even if you have a website, you're not using it in a way that's anywhere close to being a part of the Third Wave. You probably have:

  • static content that rarely changes and definitely isn't customized to the user,
  • a lack of automated marketing integration,
  • no type of advanced functionality that helps your business processes,
  • and no thought as to how your site can become an integral part of your company, not just for marketing but also for operational or product purposes.

Although we're at the beginning of the Third Wave, too many people still look at their website as a separate entity rather than part of an interconnected ecosystem. In truth, the internet is a tool that any business can use in unlimited ways, most of which haven't even been thought of yet.

Think about the telephone.

Years after its invention, it was a luxury that few people or businesses had. When it became more common, there were still lots of users on party lines (if you're too young to have heard of that, it's multiple homes or businesses sharing a phone line and your neighbor had to hang up before you could use it unless you just wanted to listen in on their call.)

Next, the phone was everywhere; businesses and government were using it for marketing, customer service, and internal communications – and even as a platform for core products, as in the case of 900 numbers – and first responders were using it as a way for anyone to be able to report an emergency in a standard way.

Now we're at the stage where a generation of people have probably never heard a dialtone, and almost everyone has a mobile phone with them all the time – even children.

That's a huge leap and I think a good analogy for the internet.

If the internet were the phone, we would be at the beginning of the smart phone era - when the iPhone was first released, and the only people who had one were people like me who used it in their work or those who just like having the newest thing.

People are now glued to their mobile phones all the time, and many have replaced their computer with their mobile device. The phone is ubiquitous.

And that's not been that long ago.

For your business to survive and prosper you have to start thinking about the internet strategically and from a thousand-foot level. This is a must, not an option.

  • How can you use it to help communicate better with customers?
  • Is there a way you can add features or benefits to your product or service that integrates with the internet?
  • Could you develop a new product leveraging the internet?
  • What internal problem might be able to be solved using your website?

Some examples of solutions we've developed for clients over the years:

  • in 1998, we developed a Palm Pilot app for a yacht broker so he would always have specs available in the field for thousands of boats.
  • In 2004, sales staff for a client traveled extensively to Asia and would regularly run out of forms or other paper items they needed. We developed a method for their documents to be stored online so they could access them to print as needed, anywhere in the world. No Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • In 2010, we developed an iphone app for a radio station network that would let listeners switch between 4 of their stations within the same app, eliminating the need to install multiple apps. Listeners could also email the stations from within the app and share on Facebook.
  • In 2011, a client's staff was required to take ongoing in-house training that was a burden to manage. We developed a registration system that to this date still manages all of the registrations, email reminders, registration cutoff dates,etc.

Those things may not sound very impressive now, but if you consider the time period we did them in, they were a rarity.

We worked with those clients to break down some of their most aggravating internal issues and develop a solution that saved time and money, and in the case of the sales staff, actually helped make money.

Now do yourself a favor and put on your thinking cap. Come up with some lists:

  • your most aggravating daily problems, without even trying to think about where the internet can be used in a solution.
  • ways you could offer an extra service or product features to your customers.
  • and ideas for possible new products.

If you add to the list on a regular basis, you'll find that the more you think, the more your brain will become used to thinking creatively.

Before you know it, ideas will just begin to pop in your head at the oddest times because your brain will be working in the background looking at everything differently.

If you think you have an idea with legs, talk to your internal team to see how you can implement it or complete a project inquiry form to see if we may be a good fit for you.

And, whatever you do, never stop looking at things differently.

PS – did you know Alexander Graham Bell didn't invent the telephone? He stole the plans from an impoverished Florentine immigrant named Antonio Meucci. I learned that on the internet. Google it. ;)

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