The Internet of Things (IoT), A Primer

Connected devices, big money, and the rise of our robot overlords.

What does the Internet of Things look like?

It’s your day off and you’re headed downtown to buy some new clothes for spring. You walk into the mall and your phone gives you a notification, “Welcome back! Swipe for a list of stores and map of the mall.” You swipe the message and receive an alphabetical list of stores where you find your favorite store in the list. You tap on the name of the store and it loads a map of the mall with a highlighted path for you. The floor underneath you illuminates and you begin along the path, watching as it disappears right underneath your feet as you walk. As you approach a coffee shop you get another notification, “20% discount when you purchase an iced coffee and a pastry.” You decide to swipe and the path beneath your feet makes a veer from your predetermined path to the coffee stand and a scan code loads on your phone. When you get to the counter, you put your phone up to the scanner and ePay automatically takes out the cost of the purchase from your linked bank card. The barista fills your coffee and hands you your pastry and you continue along your path.

As you approach your destination, another notification pops up on your phone asking what you’re interested in today. When you select Women’s Clothes and Shorts, you receive special offerings on various women’s shorts with a map leading you to that department. You select a few spring-time colors and styles and head to the dressing room. Once inside, the mirror lights up and provides you with a list of images and prices for the four items you’ve brought with you. You try them on, settling on two pairs. You place the shorts that you’re not interested in into a slot in the wall which closes, and they are removed from sight. One of the pairs you have is slightly too big so you tap on the mirror where the image for those shorts is being displayed and select a smaller size. Another drawer opens and you take the smaller size pair out, replacing it with the larger pair you no longer need.

Upon finishing trying on the clothes, you press a checkout button on the mirror and a bag that is just the right size comes out of a slot. You put the clothes in the bag, throw it over your shoulder and as you walk out of the store your card is again charged automatically. A notification pops up on your phone thanking you for your patronage, informing you of how much you spent, your applied discount, and your current reward point status. As you walk out of the store you receive an update on where your car is parked or the closest public transportation to get where you’re going.

How does this all work? It is powered by the Internet of Things, a vast assortment of technologies that is revolutionizing industry through a network of physical objects that communicate with the cloud, various applications, and each other.

It’s likely you’ve heard of the Internet of Things, especially if you work in high-level manufacturing or tech industry, though for the most part the public is unaware of this current evolution in technology.

The concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first Internet-connected appliance, able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold.

The first use of the term “Internet of Things”, or IoT, occurred in 1999 by Kevin Ashton when discussing RFID technology for use in retail stores.

Wikipedia gives a definition as “the inter-networking of physical devices, vehicles, buildings, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.”

Too vague? Here are a few real-world examples:

I’m sure you’ve heard of Bill Gates: Microsoft founder; Harvard dropout; richest man in America; glasses; the coolest freaking house in the world. Gates was an innovator of IoT, and may have started the trend of Smart Houses (think of Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or even Philips Hue the personal wireless LED lighting). In his book The Road Ahead, Bill writes that every guest in his home would have an “electronic pin [that] will tell the house who and where you are, and the house will use this information to try to meet and even anticipate your needs — all as unobtrusively as possible.” The house (completed in 1997) can alter light levels, temperature, music, and scenery on wall screens just from your (the pin’s) presence. Two people in the room? Not a problem. The technology will take an average of the two peoples’ preferences and provide a middle ground, though I’m not too sure what the hybrid of a tropical beach and mountain vista looks like.

Boeing, one of the two largest commercial airplane manufacturers (the other is the French Airbus) and the company that created the original Jumbo Jet (the Boeing 747) has been using IoT in their engines for about a decade. Their engines are manufactured by a variety of companies (Pratt & Whitney, General Electric, and Rolls-Royce), and these companies have implemented engine monitoring systems through satellite activated sensors that report on the health of the engines during flight. This implementation has reduced the costly action of replacing engines prematurely as a precautionary measure. Prior to IoT, the alternative of a catastrophic failure was much worse than the cost of early engine retirement, but with the data provided by the engine sensors, both failure and early retirement can be drastically reduced.

Boston Medical Center has recently begun using IoT technology across the entire campus. With implementations in the lab, kitchens, patient rooms, and medical devices, you could say that BMC is the first smart hospital. They have devices that ensure a regulated environment for biological samples and medications. All infusion pumps, EKG machines, heart monitors, and oxygen sensors report data and can be controlled remotely. They even have a ‘biodigester’ that is monitored to ensure efficiency as it composts food scraps from throughout the hospital. Goodbye dogs, robots are now eating our leftovers.

There are plenty of integrated applications of IoT that range from industrial machine monitoring to supply and value chain optimization and most uses of IoT are truly groundbreaking. Some examples being tested include using sensors to monitor waterways for pollutants, adjust medical implants, and automate city transportation.

 

So, who’s investing?

With the increasing prevalence of wearable devices, internet connected appliances, and machine to machine communication, a lot of hype has been created around IoT. Companies have created non-integrated systems that leave users with a basket of remote controls and even home appliances as ludicrous as Juicero, the juicer (https://evrythng.com/lessons-learned-from-the-pointless-400-connected-juicer/) that will order more bags of fruit when you’ve run out.

However, the hype doesn’t mean that big names aren’t interested, and most of the tech powerhouses have begun purchasing startup IoT companies and investing their own capital into research.

  • Microsoft has created their own IoT Cloud Solution called Azure. Self described as “an open, flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing platform”, Azure aims to provide customers with the ability to deploy IoT within their already existing data platforms.
  • Google has acquired a multitude of companies including startups in hardware, software, analytics, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Some of the big-name companies they’ve purchased include Boston Dynamics, Nest, and DeepMind.
  • Apple has created the HomeKit that provides a framework for communicating with and controlling connected accessories for smart homes. They’ve even implemented Siri to assist in control of user devices.
  • Amazon has entered the world of IoT with Amazon Web Services now offering data management and device connectivity in the cloud environment through AWS Greengrass and AWS IoT. Not to mention Amazon Alexa, the smart home device.
  • IBM is employing their AI system, Watson, to provide edge computing for business enterprises to optimize operations, manage assets, rethink products and services, and transform the customer experience.

In addition to the big companies stepping up to the plate, there are thousands of young start-up companies who are fighting for a piece of the IoT pie.

 

But, just how big is the pie?

Some are estimating that the potential of growth created by implementing IoT in just industrial applications will generate somewhere between $10 and $15 trillion of global GDP by 2030. That’s trillion with a T.

How is this going to happen? The creation of affordable manufacturing has dropped the prices of sensors and devices, and when coupled with the advent of IPv6, which will allow an immense number of IoT devices to interact, you have a cheap solution with an infrastructure ready to handle the upsurge in devices. Due to this, the estimates for IoT connected devices will consist of about 30 billion objects by 2020.

That’s just three years from now! While monumental effort and innovation has occurred surrounding the new technological revolution, humanity is still taking its first steps in this field. With all the hype, some are saying there could be an IoT bubble, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Where have I seen this?

While working on this post, I spent more than a few hours in a humble coffee shop down the street from my apartment. (Shout out to Kava Shteeble for letting me grumble and curse and drink too much coffee.) It was the perfect environment because they have an internet connected (IoT) printer that you can connect to through their Wi-Fi. Pretty rad.

Anytime someone asked me what I was working on, I told them it was an article on the Internet of Things. When they would (inevitably) make a confused face, I could point at the printer and say, that thing that allows you to print just by connecting to the Wi-Fi is part of IoT.

The advent of the internet connected world is coming, and I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

Auximiti – A Case Study & The Future

Return On Investment, along with Security and Technical Difficulty, is right up there in the top 3 reasons companies aren’t adopting and launching Internet of Things projects.

So what is a “good” ROI for an Internet of Things project? I haven’t done the homework, but here is how I would figure it out.

The Internet of Things is such a new space that you should ignore any one person claiming to be an expert. Instead, you need to take the top 100 estimates from people who know about distributed command & control structures and other initiative outcomes, and come up with their average for a “good” ROI on a project.  That average will probably be very very close.

A study was conducted for 100 people to guess how many peanuts were in a large container to be shipped.  The guesses were wildly varied.  From less than 100 to more than 4,000, and most people we’re quite a ways off.  The average of all of the guesses?  10 away from the actual number in the container.

The Statistical Law of Large Numbers always wins.

Whatever “good” ROI ends up being, I know we have been able to surpass it with Internet of Things projects and it comes down to the clients’ business model and per customer revenue/lifetime customer value. Does your client make $.20, $2.00, $20.00, or $200.00 in profit for each buying customer?

In some sectors we are able to provide a 5 to 1 return on the price of our services.  In other sectors, companies would lose money if they bought and implemented the technology Auximiti sells.  Nonetheless, our services do bring in new customers, create brand loyalty, and have other positive effects, like customer insights, that aren’t fully captured in a pure marketing ROI \ mindset. Without concrete valuation, these end up being “cherries on top”.

Here is a basic chart that showcases Beacon Marketing effectiveness:

You can download this Case Study Here.

I think the chart above and the situation it represents will be reproduced for a number of other industries as well.  Gym memberships come to mind as something many people pay for every month but are under utilized in their capacity. The problem is that it costs too much to cancel the membership.  “You might think, it costs too much what? Cancelling saves them money!”

The reality is that it costs too much time. There is a company out there waiting to be created that cancels gym memberships for people and charges one month membership to cancel. I’ll cancel your $20.00 a month gym membership if you pay me $20.00. Then expand it to other services.

Companies like Orange Theory Fitness and EOS may want to deliver more value to their members with reminders to train once a week or offer special deals for their personal training sessions.  Additionally, health sensors and the Internet of Things for Health, Wellness, and Healthcare is going to be big and gyms should start looking at how to integrate their marketing and customer engagement with the health stats they can track on their machines.

Another key retail sector ripe for disruption is cosmetics.  Women have changed their make-up and accessory habits to “online first”.  They are researching online, watching YouTube videos online, and even ordering and subscribing to makeup products online.  The only buying in retail happening for makeup is during a rare visit to a large retail sale. There is big potential to disrupt the industry with free make-up training sessions, tests of new brands or styles, influencer marketing visits and other beauty engagement experiences. Letting someone try before they buy sounds crazy in this industry, but it might be necessary and disruptive in the next couple of years.  Wouldn’t you go to stores for a free trial and large promotional discounts?

Even better, augmented reality experiences with celebrities could be introduced to brick & mortar locations as unique experiences. Get your makeup and hair done with Oprah sitting next to you in your selfie.  This works for men as well for men who are interested in snapping a selfie with Robert Downey Jr. (or Iron Man since we’re doing augmented reality, let’s go all the way.) The customer engagement here will be disruptive, just like video games in kids hair cut locations attract so many parents today when it comes to getting ready for the school pictures.

The bottom line is that we need to start looking at what can be tested instead of what is or isn’t working. What can you test in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days that will push the boundaries, attract and interest your customers, and get them talking about your brand to the point where they can’t stop?  Is it a chat bot?  Virtual Reality? Augmented Reality (AR) Competitions or AR Lotteries? New Products and Influencer Marketing? GaryVee signing your merchandise for all your customers?

There is no time to waste.

Get out there, test, find out what is going on, come up with a plan, and go execute it.

The alternative is to wait ten years while the golden age of marketing passes you by.

It’s your choice.

10 Things Customers Expect in 2018

Customer engagement is rapidly increasing for brands that are succeeding in the emerging Internet of Things space.

Here are 10 things customers expect from top brands in 2018:

Let’s start with the basics.

Auximiti

1. Customers expect to browse your website on their smart phone.

This one is pretty self explanatory.

2. Customers expect to learn about brands from real people.

This is not new. For decades, friends and family have recommended products and tools to each other to make their lives easier. This comes from the original tribes of humans telling each other about dangers in the environment to avoid.  Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a huge indicator that you are doing this type of marketing correctly for your brand. The only change is the technology that allows people to share more and influence more people.  Influencers and Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) are a very strong form of marketing right now.

3. Customers expect good customer service.

Customer service is under more and more scrutiny as displeasure and annoyance can easily be announced on social media and taint your appearance to many more people much more quickly.  Please server your customers well. Give them value and what they expect which leads to the next expectation.

4. Customers expect value.

Because customers expect value from everything they do and buy, you have to set expectations very well up front about the value you provide.

5. Customers expect good experiences.

Value increases as customers interact with your brand or company IN A GOOD WAY. Those interactions must be positive and you need to find how to create the positivity. After you invent, discover, or create the positive experiences you can scale those.

6. Customers expect you to respect their time.

Don’t waste your customer’s time. Don’t advertise in a way that takes time away from them. Don’t create time intensive processes for your customers when either you can handle a lot of it internally or you can automate the time subtracting experiences away.

7. Customers expect interactions to be proactive and add value.

Even in this age of digital technology people want real interactions with real people. Clearly, this is at odds with respect the customer’s time. Nailing this balancing act down is so important.  Execute with training your staff. Execute on building the right technology systems that create personalization. Execute on adding value to each customer segment correctly.  When your staff can approach VIP customers and address them by name, you add value.

8. Customers expect to use their phone everywhere for everything.

Enable your customers to research in your store using their phone. Enable your customers to buy things from your store online while they are in your store. Enable your customers to learn about you while they are on Facebook or Instagram or whatever app they are using. Everyone is using their phone.  Make sure you are following the market’s attention.

9. Customers expect to have all their needs met.

You can approach this in one of two ways. First, you can meet any need the customer has. When people are grocery shopping they want to drink coffee or address a banking issue.  This is why banks and Starbucks have locations inside large chain grocery stores. It helps the tenant and the grocer at the same time.  The other way you can address this is by setting your problem solving domain very strongly. This requires both expertise in your domain and being very clear and upfront with your prospects, clients, and customers.  Figure out which way is best for you.

10. Customers expect to be happy.

This last one I added because we are living in a strange time. Everyone is posting pictures online where everyone is smiling and everybody feels they need to be happy for everyone else. Although this is potentially, and I would argue IS, a problem for society to figure out, I think we as business owners can help. If you create genuine happiness, through humor or excitement or contentedness, for your customers, they will be grateful. They will feel “normal” when normal has a disproportionate skew towards being happy. Everyone wants to feel normal and if you can create that feeling in your customers, they will keep coming back for that feeling.

Thanks for reading and please leave your opinion in the comments.  Is there something critical that I missed?  Is there something I am wrong about?  I’d love to hear about it from you.

Beacon Companies Incoming

I’m writing this post now because I’ve started to see companies enter the beacon marketing space in the last few months. Companies that resell other platforms and setup their clients on Google Nearby while doing little to none actual work themselves. These people know how to market and sell a product, see that there is proof of concept, and have managed to turn a tidy profit. Good for them! With the expected 400 million beacons in the world by 2021 we need more proximity service providers. Auximiti continues to expand its offerings to go beyond the simple beacon marketing system that was initially created in 2016. While these people are helping companies, we’re helping brands bring one to one engagement to their customers.

The incoming wave of beacon marketing companies

There has always been a number of companies that will learn about technologies, white label them, and resell the services. This is a super common approach to building a business and one that we at Auximiti have partially adopted as well. With beacons, this could grow from a trickle to a torrent as the hardware is inexpensive, the setup is super easy, and the benefits are quick and easy to provide proof of for customers. When all is said and done, I would not be surprised if hundreds of new companies are in the beacon space, setting up customers, and connecting the world we live in.  I think it’s awesome.

Another reason this is going to continue as a trend is all of the hype and marketing that has been pumped into the “Internet of Things”.  We are at the peak of inflated expectations and companies all over see IoT as a way to solve all their problems. This is naive, but it’s what hype does. With all the hype, comes those who prey on false hopes and work to get a quick buck.  Naturally, the trough of disillusionment comes after and buyers find who is making a real quality product versus who is trying to cash in. You have to deliver the value if you want to build a long term business.

Why this matters

Auximiti has been a beacon centric company for the past year and may continue to do so, however with more and more businesses the market will soon become flooded with providers of this new technology. Why will someone buy from your company (my company, Auximiti) when a competitor offers the seemingly same product at a lower cost? Our answer can be divided into three parts and we encourage our prospects to take time and consideration of their beacon marketing strategy when they make these decisions.

1. Auximiti is a technology company.

Why does this matter?  We don’t sell technology that we don’t see working and we don’t sell solutions unless the problem they solve is present.  Many of the companies opening up shop in beacon marketing aren’t looking at these questions.  I’ve seen their marketing material and it can get to be as rude as saying “They can’t stop you from putting your ad on their phone.”  They are encouraging a SPAM type of system which isn’t what the consumer is asking for and won’t deliver as much value as we can.  Our approach is to look at the problem first and then apply the technologies, processes, and persons that will solve it. It’s half consulting and half service provider and our expertise helps our clients succeed to greater degrees.

2. Auximiti is greater than beacons.

Beacon marketing is a fun idea, a valuable marketing technology, and an essential component of the evolving technology world that is ushering in the “Internet of Things” paradigm. That being said, it isn’t the end-all be-all of marketing solutions. Larger companies will need more than a simple beacon sending promotions to interested passersby. The brand image, the customer engagement, the immersive experience, and the predictive automation are all essential components of Real-Time Marketing solutions in the IoT age. Auximiti knows and works with all of these components and how to include them in a proximity-based solution. Does your brand provide chat-bots to solve small problems and help out your customers? Does your brand rely on the human experience and a chat-bot would detract from that? Does your brand have a VIP loyal customer base with minimal churn? Does your brand want to create one? These questions help drive the focus of proximity based real-time mobile marketing and engagement products. We thrive at asking the right questions and learning about our customers to build the right solution for each one.

3. Auximiti is automation.

Many of these new companies in the space will tell their customers to simply put their homepage or current digital promotion copy onto the beacon redirect. We do this too as our bare-bones approach to inbound sales. We also do so much more. Leave Auximiti with your brand copy, marketing campaigns, and promotions, and Auximiti will build you premium designed content, automated and optimized messaging, and analytical results. Not only do you offload the extra work for beacon marketing, you receive premium content, new copy to use in other places, and a more cohesive feeling for your beacon marketing campaigns. If copy isn’t your core competency, we can work with your partners or you can adopt ours to build amazing fresh content.

Where do we go from here

For starters, look at problems, look at beacon marketing as a potential solution, and hash out some objectives, goals, and initiatives that will bring a project together. Next, research Auximiti, and our competitors, to find the right provider for you. Do you need an app built, a new https mobile friendly website, technical expertise, and a well maintained, automated system? Maybe we’re the right fit. Do you want to slam a couple beacons on your storefront, point them at your website, and forget about it? We can do that and so can many others. If you want a monthly consulting call or advisory/support call to help your system maintain its effectiveness ask about that too.  I encourage you to do your research and find the right solution because your success is all that matters.

Best of luck to you in this new beacony world.

I’ve been selling the wrong way.

For the last 6 months, I have been pushing as hard as I can and getting nowhere in sales.

I could chalk this up to being a technical founder, a younger person with a smaller network, or having little experience in business and specifically none in sales or marketing. Instead, I have found that I CAN sell, but I can’t sell myself as something I’m not. After attempting for months to meet other people’s expectations, it has occurred to me that I am trying to change myself instead of changing the expectation as my initial response.  Those days are over, and by moving passed them I am able to connect with people that understand who I am and how I can help them.  This leads to more conversations, better network connections, and eventually getting in touch with people who I am able to help and who will enjoy working with me.

It’s been easy to think that I am “laying it all out on the line” or make up other rationalizations for what I’m doing when it isn’t working. Those are mouse traps and rabbit holes which will eat away at your mind and trick you into failure. When nothing is working, it’s time to try something new. For me, that is a change to how quickly I work (I’m slowing things down in my mind and communication), and changing my expectations and therefore intent and interaction when meeting new people. I don’t want every networking meeting to turn into new business. It would be nice, but is also extremely unrealistic and choosing your customers can be just as important as choosing your investors.

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard on technical progress in product development and data analytics. Within the connections and networking I do as my weekly routine, I’m talking with new people every week and trying to spread the word about what we do, but I’ve toned down my outreach a bit. As much as Auximiti needs me to be selling every day, it also needs me to be at the top of my game.  Always.  If that means selling for 1-4 hours a day until we have the team to sell Auximiti, then that is what I’ll do. However, I will focus on where I can make the most impact and where the business needs are most pressing which is somewhere between knowledge management, operations, and I.T. once we have the sales process ironed out.  Sales is always first and most important for a business.  Second is building the product.

My strength is building.

Startup Build – Why are you building it?

The number one question to answer for a startup is Why?

  • Why are you at this startup?
  • Why are you helping your customers?
  • Why are you building this feature?
  • Why are you ignoring these problems?

That last one is especially notable because startups do have A LOT of problems.  From Invoicing to Traction to Marketing and Sales Strategy to Cash Flow to Raising Capital to Product Development and more, startups never have many things solved and have more problems than solutions.  The chaos is everything you could be doing.  The simplicity is finding the ONE thing that moves the needle.  You then ignore all the problems outside this range and succeed at something people will pay you for, because you’re providing value to them.

So why are you ignoring problems?  To solve the customer’s problems first.

Why Apple, Why? (Google too)

You control all the phones in the world and control a duopoly on the ecosystems we have to work with.

You promise breakthroughs but deliver advancements.  (Not bad but why promises?)

You focus on the details too much, instead of just getting them right.

You both imprison and enrich our lives with the necessity of “apps”.

 

There is no disruption in the digital telephone anymore. (Also known as a super computer.) Apple is set in its tracks on maintaining their dominance and enticing their current customer base with every new edition.  Android is no longer being customized by third parties due to security, features, and other advancements that Google is a sole provider of due to its size (and IP). Finally, Windows Phone is Dead.  Maybe it will resurrect as the Surface Phone, but for now I’m presuming otherwise.

With such control over their ecosystems and us people caught within them, sometimes you wonder why they would innovate at all?  And then you realize they really don’t.

I say it is time to look for what is coming to disrupt all of these devices.  What technology will remove phones from our pockets and purses forever.  It isn’t IoT.  IoT let’s us connect systems in the cloud and around us but the Smart Phone is one of those devices.  It will continue to be used with IoT, and potentially more often than before.  That’s worrisome.

Maybe A.I. will find a way to help us here.  After all it can understand what we say, what we’re asking for in context, and has vast resources to make our inconveniences go away (traffic jams come to mind). But we need a new device that transforms the way we interact with technology.  Something that we may (or may not) carry with us and provides better solutions to us than our phones.

Maybe it’s a quantum A.I. interface? Or an Eye-Contact HUD?  Or an IoT Ear Bud?

We’ll see where we go.

TechCrunch Disrupt & What I Learned About Startups

Last month I had the amazing experience of visiting New York for the first time and exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt for Auximiti.

Yes, it’s a real thing.

One of the reoccurring things that I heard when people learned that I had been to TCD is “Like in the T.V. show Silicon Valley?  That’s a real thing?”
“Yes, it’s a real thing,” I would often respond and go on to laugh about the show.  I don’t blame them.  Technology Startups are few and far between and most of them fail somewhere between “I think we got this.” and “This will be huge.” as everything looks great until it doesn’t.  I have become aware of this over the last 45 days since TCD and it has helped me refocus my efforts and drive our business initiatives forward to help us reach our goals, even to the point of not developing any new code since TCD.  I think this is where a lot of startups fail before they even get started.  Let me give you an example:

I recently went to Galvanize in Phoenix, AZ to listen to Nathan Mortensen of Tallwave Capital which was great.  I learned about raising capital, the difference between investors, venture capital firms, and other forms of capital infusion, and Tallwave’s particular criteria and decision making process behind funding startups (they do post-seed rounds).  While I was there I met two co-founders who had built a machine learning system and were looking for funding to help them revamp the system, hone the algorithm, and start building traction.  Here is the kicker; they had zero customers.  Maybe they started asking people if it was something they could use or maybe they haven’t (or maybe they need the better algorithm for it to be worthwhile to customers).  Their problem is that an investor wants to see, more than anything else, that people are giving you money for what you are selling.  Even if it is just a little bit, like 20 bucks for a trial, money is 10 times the market validation of anything else and tells you that product market fit is not that far away.

It doesn’t make much sense to code.

This is why I haven’t coded a line since we came back from New York.  We have a system that works and we can set people up and start taking payment.  Building up our platform so that it is nicer or has more features isn’t going to help Auximiti as much as finding more people to use what we have already.  Until we find someone who is willing to pay more for a particular feature, better UI, or another integration, it doesn’t make much sense to code.  One caveat to this mentality is when your product simply isn’t selling and you’ve been trying to sell it, really pushing it on everyone you meet, and nobody wants to give it a go.  At this point, you may need to go back to the drawing board or explore how you can pivot into another product, market, or traction channel to find someone who is interested.  Still, coding may not be required.  If you can use a prototype, design spec, or some other way to market your idea and find interest you may not need to code a single line until someone comes to you, money in hand, to buy the product you don’t have.

At that point, it’s go time!

What is the Physical Web?

So you have some amazing technology; maybe you invented it, maybe you found it and want to take it to your boss, or maybe you are the boss, and want your team to understand just how amazing it is, but how do you do it?

You want them to buy in on your product, but before you do that, you have to help them to understand how your product even works, and for that, you need to take a step back, and explain the physical web.

That being said, what is the physical web?

Picture the internet, a virtual web that encompasses the world.Every site is a tiny dot on the web, connecting to another tinier dot, on and on forever.

The physical web is just that, except it isn’t virtual, and each of those dots is an actual physical location.

With the physical web you can walk up and interact with anything, a poster, a toy, a parking meter, or a retail location. Interactions are just a tap away without needing to install an app first.

So how does it actually work? Google’s Physical Web allows you to see a list of URLs being broadcast by everyday objects in the environment around you. Any object can be embedded with a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon. These beacons are low powered, battery efficient devices that broadcast content over Bluetooth. Using Google Chrome (Looking at you iPhone), or Nearby Notifications, you can scan for those URLs close by.

Check your notification panel to see pages for connected items near you, and chose what interests you most. When anything can connect, the possibilities are endless.

Now that your team understands the Physical Web, you can help them catch the dream of what is truly possible, watch their eyes widen as they realize just how limitless those possibilities really are, but that’s a conversation for another time.

 

If you enjoyed this article, please like and share on Facebook (or your social media of choice), and if you feel like I missed something, or want to add clarification, please leave a note in the comments below.

IFTTT and Twitter

This started out by creating a ‘retweet bot’ that would take the content from a specific user and (I thought) retweet it on my account.  I went through the extremely easy interface (kudos) and set up this retweet bot.  Then I went to Twitter to see the sparks fly…. and nothing was happening.  I missed the IFTTT disclaimer that these applets may take up to hour to get started so I jumped back over and clicked the “check now” button that gets everything moving immediately.  To my delight, it worked and my twitter account was firing off great information, infographics, and articles about all things techy (read all things I like).  And it was fast too!

( *Disclaimer: I’ve been aware of IFTTT for over a year now but I’ve never put it to any real use.  I’ve added a few applets that I can trigger from my phone or watch and I’ve run a few automated processes, but nothing enterprise level or for a business.  I was aware that it could be used for things like retweets and Facebook integrations but had not dived in until today.  I found, to my delight and horror, that this bot programming platform was extremely efficient.   I thought this would be simple.  I was wrong.  )

It was automating retweets within minutes of the tweet and everything was going up on my analytics card from all the increased activity.  Then I noticed a slight flaw.  IFTTT wasn’t retweeting like you would imagine on the Twitter platform.  It was copying all the text and posting it on it’s own, essentially plagiarizing the original author and making it look like original content coming from my account.  On top of that, some of the content wasn’t coming through correctly.  I decided to add the original username in front of the post to accommodate this flaw and something else weird started happening.  When all 140 characters were used in the original tweet, my tweet would truncate the end of the message.  I ended up with weird hashtags like #InternetOfThin #BigDat and #DataVisu which doesn’t work at all.  Time to switch gears because tweeting the text of my target account wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I changed up the tweet formula to post the username of my targets, a short static blurb, and a link to the original tweet.  This worked well and I was happy enough with the result that I wanted to replicate it on our Auximiti Twitter feed.  I had the Auximiti account sending out great information about all things tech.

Next, I started to connect the miniature twitter storm I was creating to my personal account, the exact same way I had just set everything up.  What this ended up doing is causing my personal account to send out tweet after tweet that simply referenced the Auximiti account putting out tweet after tweet about its target content producers for it’s audience.  The message was “Check Out This Tweet!” and it showed another tweet that said “Check Out This Tweet!”  It wasn’t going any further to show what the first retweet content was in the first place.  This wasn’t good so I fumbled through the rest of the retweet options available.  None of them worked.

Eventually I gave up and came here to sound a warning about multiple retweet bot chains using IFTTT.  It doesn’t work.  I still have high hopes for the IFTTT platform and its integration with the Internet of Things which is what many people and companies are using it for. As far as automating your social media presence, it’s just one small tool out of the many you will need to be successful on social media.  My end solution?  Manually use my personal account, as I always have, and let the company account run on its automated system from WordPress (which includes posting from here when new articles are written).

If you haven’t used IFTTT, I recommend giving it a spin.  It is fun and it can do some pretty helpful stuff too.