Vail Resorts, the largest ski resort company in the United States, changed the ski industry when it launched the Epic Pass, a discounted season ticket that became a gateway to terabytes of rich customer data. The season pass contains a built-in data capture feature for each pass holder, tracking daily and seasonal elevation gains, racing scores and competition against friends. Each pass is a data beacon, and the explosion of real-time information about consumers enables Vail to get ahead of other resorts struggling to adapt.
The Internet of Things (IoT) offers significant opportunity for marketers who embrace early learning. “Marketing organizations need to start building the skills, technologies, partners and business models that IoT requires,” noted Andrew Frank, vice president, Gartner for Marketing Leaders.
Use three tactics to enroll marketing colleagues and leadership in the learning journey of how to use IoT for competitive advantage.
One approach is to use fear and invoke the words “Remember Kodak” to remind leaders of the perils of ignoring transformative technologies. Marketing leaders can also educate with innovation lunches or create forums for generating ideas. Ensure the ideas are relevant to marketing goals so they incorporate scenarios that account for threats to current marketing practices. The goal is to build momentum and learn how the IoT can benefit your business.
Ask creative questions
Think about what it would have been like to ask a series of intelligent, probing question at the dawn of the Internet. Pose a series of creative, what-if questions about how to use the IoT and how it might impact your business, your industry and your competitive landscape. The answers may illuminate your path forward:
- What could we do if we knew the location of all of our products in real time?
- How could we mine the data that smart products collect to gain new insights?
- How could we leverage controlling or updating products after we ship them?
- Could we make our products social?
- Who or what could our products talk to?
Detail the business impact
After getting people interested and asking a few smart questions, it’s time to show the potential business value and risk. Monitor competitors and other markets for IoT use cases. Create competitions and challenges to solicit ideas to help uncover specific business opportunities. One hands-on way to surface new ideas is to give interested staff members Arduino boards (an open source platform to create interactive objects), a low-cost system for bringing IoT ideas to life. Create a “skunkworks” environment in which good ideas can evolve.
Use a wide range of approaches to generate and share ideas for new marketing tactics, products and business models that can exploit the IoT to persuade marketing executives to treat it more seriously.