Cameron Worth, SharpEnd Agency’s founder, talks to Aphaia’s Vasiliki Antoniadou about the Internet of Things (IoT), shedding light on brand and consumer benefits, privacy concerns, and future developments in the area.
How would you describe IoT in a few words?
The Iot is the next platform. It is a world where everything around you can and will be connected both to you and also to each other.
What stimulated your interest in the IoT and led you to the creation of SharpEnd, the agency of things?
I’ve always been interested in the evolution of technology and how it can be applied by brands to make people’s lives better. Thus, SharpEnd was created in order to help brands embrace new technologies. It is the first agency in the world that specialises on brand applications of the IoT.
SharpEnd has been collaborating with some of the world’s famous brand names, such as Malibu and Absolut. Could you share a few words about your flagship projects and how IoT may benefit your clients from the various industries?
We focus on two main areas. The first one is smart packaging, which could be described as turning consumer products into digital assets. Direct consumer interactions are enabled through the products that a company sells and its consumers use.
The second area in which we are active is smart spaces. The objective here is how to make the trade, the retail or the home environment smart to use other forms of technology. IoT is not limited to smart packaging. On the contrary, it introduces technologies you can actually embed into real world spaces.
In our pursuit of the exploitation of the IoT by brands, we have worked with various large brand owners, such as our founding client, the Absolut company, Unilever and Procter and Gamble.
What is there for the consumers?
The benefit a consumer derives from the IoT is convenience. For example, one of the key aspects of IoT is centralising interaction between multiple devices. Moreover, from a brand perspective, which is our focus as a business, with the help of IoT you actually get more from your brands quicker. In other words, the IoT makes it more possible and achievable for an immediate consumer need to be satisfied by a brand.
IoT is functioning by means of Big Data collection. How would you respond to the reluctancy of portion of the public to share their personal data due to privacy concerns?
Privacy is a valid concern. The industry needs to acknowledge the data misappropriation risk and invest on transparency in order to avoid it and earn the trust of their consumers. The brands that collect data, need to make clear why they are collecting it and what they will do and not do with it. Unless a brand has reached that level of transparency, there is a real risk that consumers become suspicious, something that will adversely affect the execution of the technology and consequently its contribution in brand success and development.
Can you predict the future in the market of the IoT solutions? Do you believe that competition is going to flourish or is there a threat of a foreclosure by a small group of companies?
There is definitely going to be more players and there is going to be a lot more companies focused on service design with the IoT. A lot of IoT applications right now are still clunky and lack consumer education. Hence there is room for further refinement and growth in the sector. In terms of monopolies, it is to be expected that big companies such as Google will try to own everything in the future. But the example of mobile payments can assist us in understanding how the IoT case will unfold. In the past, companies attempted to create guidance and to own mobile payment, but they didn’t receive any sort of traction until they actually realised they should work together to a common purpose. I believe the story will evolve similarly with the connected home. After an unsuccessful attempt to act individually in the market, the companies will turn to the search of a potential integration with each other.