Permission is a powerful thing, whether we grant it to others or ourselves. As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
It’s true that we can deny others the permission to lower our self-esteem and affect our choices, but taking the next step means granting ourselves permission to do great things and innovate by thinking differently. That doesn’t mean we have to invent something as earth-shattering as the wheel or, more recently, the smartphone. Sometimes finding a new application for existing inventions is just as innovative as coming up with something new. How many years did people lug suitcases through airports and fight over baggage carts before someone finally had the idea to add wheels to suitcases? The inventor didn’t come up with the wheel or the suitcase, but the combination of the two made life easier.
The Internet of Things (IoT), a network of connected objects and devices, is poised to unleash a new torrent of innovation – if we give ourselves permission to make it happen. Analysts predict that there will be tens of billions of connected devices in just a few short years. Not only does the data generated by the Internet of Things have an inherent value, it will provide every industry – including the travel sector – with new opportunities to improve life for customers.
The Internet of Things is already making inroads into our homes. Homeowners are adopting connected smart home devices in droves, potentially putting themselves in touch with their homes no matter where they are – even while on vacation. According to an SMA research brief, two out of three people plan to purchase a smart home device within the next year. Smart home devices include items such as learning thermostats, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and connected cameras. These devices allow homeowners to keep tabs on what’s happening at home and control in-home devices from far away as easily as operating a sound system.
Like the suitcase with wheels, these product concepts aren’t entirely new. Thermostats, smoke detectors and cameras have been around for decades. But connecting them via the Internet of Things has the potential to be utterly transformative in unpredictable ways.
The SMA research report estimates that by 2020, there will be 8 billion people on the planet and 50 billion connected items with 5 million apps. The opportunity this represents to create new ways to connect, and give consumers more tools to protect their homes and families, is staggering for all industry sectors, including travel.
People love to go on vacation, exploring new regions and experiencing life from another perspective. But they worry about what’s happening back home. Is the house okay? Are pets and other family members they’ve left behind doing well? What if travel companies could use connected home technology to provide peace of mind?
What if they explored other avenues of connecting with customers by using the data the travel company takes in during the course of doing business and connecting it with other data feeds – including social media and sensor-generated information? The innovations virtually any type of travel companies and businesses can unleash using the Internet of Things are limited only by business leaders’ imaginations.
But, as companies tap into new data sources, it pays to be mindful of the value of the “small data” they gather during everyday customer interactions – information like customer contact data and preferences. It’s also vitally important to obtain customers’ permission to use that data to make their lives easier and to craft more effective offers.
With the ability to interface with connected devices and send out automated, personalized messages, business leaders across all sectors can step up and make customers’ lives safer and easier. But first, we have to give ourselves permission!
NB This is a guest article by Tara Kelly, President & CEO of Splice Software.