Internet of Behaviors (IoB) is an emerging technology concept that has huge potential impact on both companies and consumers. But what exactly is it, and why does it matter right now? Let‘s unpack it together!
At a basic level, IoB involves using data from Internet of Things devices to analyze and influence human behaviors. As the prevalence of smart, connected devices explodes – with around 10 per person expected by 2030! – the opportunities to collect and apply behavioral data at scale are booming too.
The pillars holding up IoB
There are 3 key pillars that come together to enable the IoB:
Internet of Things (IoT)
This provides the raw data feeds about user behaviors, through devices like:
- Smart watches and fitness trackers
- Smart home assistants
- Autonomous vehicles
Global spend on IoT is predicted to grow to $1.6 trillion by 2025 according to IDC.1 That means tons of behavior data being generated!
These are insights from psychology applied to understand motivations and cognitive biases that drive customer behaviors. Techniques like behavioral economics are used.
Advanced algorithms process the IoT data to spot trends, make predictions, and generate nudges to influence behaviors. Analytics like:
- Sentiment analysis
- Predictive modeling
- Neural networks
Are all applied to tap into the power of IoB data.
Real world examples of IoB
Here are just a few examples of how IoB could play out in practice across different industries:
- A retailer identifies customers who frequently browse but rarely buy. They nudge these potential customers with targeted discounts to drive conversion.
- An auto insurer offers a lower premium to safe drivers who opt-in to share real-time telemetry from the car like speed, acceleration and braking patterns. This allows pricing based on actual driving behavior.
- A doctor monitors a diabetes patient‘s blood sugar levels in real-time thanks to a connected glucose monitor. Patient behaviors like diet and exercise are tracked. The doctor intervenes with tailored advice when needed to better control the chronic condition.
- A mental health counselor monitors indicators like sleep quality, activity levels and social interaction through their patient‘s smartwatch and fitness tracker. They reach out to support the patient when concerning patterns emerge.
The applications across sectors are vast, both for companies and also for directly supporting consumers with personalized interventions.
Why focus on IoB now?
IoB has risen in prominence recently for a few key reasons:
- The explosion of IoT devices provides the fuel for IoB through massive amounts of granular behavioral data.
- Advances in analytics and AI allow deeper insights to be drawn from IoB data.
- There is greater recognition of the importance of driving long-term consumer satisfaction and company profitability.
- Regulations around data privacy are evolving quickly, requiring responsible use of personal data.
In fact, Gartner highlighted IoB as one of its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2021 – evidence of its growing impact. By 2025, over 50% of people worldwide could be subject to some form of IoB program according to projections.2
Benefits and concerns around IoB
Clearly IoB presents great potential, but as with any powerful new technology there are also risks and challenges to grapple with.
- Deeper customer insights to enhance services and satisfaction
- More contextual, personalized and timely marketing
- Ability to positively influence behaviors like health, finances and sustainability
Risks and concerns
- Potential for manipulation of consumers for excess profit
- Privacy intrusions and exploitation of personal data
- Legal gray areas and regulations still evolving
- Increased vulnerabilities to cyber criminals
- User distrust in sharing intimate data feeds
There are certainly pros and cons here to weigh carefully. Companies seeking to implement ethical IoB will need to make privacy preservation and consumer benefit a priority. Transparency and consent around data usage is crucial. Investing in rock-solid data security is non-negotiable with the risks involved.
And consumers should consider both the advantages of opting into IoB services, and also the vulnerabilities that come with sharing sensitive behavioral data.
The future with Internet of Behaviors
As with any new technology realm, realizing the full benefits of IoB while mitigating the risks will require thoughtfulness and care. But the vast potential to support consumers and businesses with this wealth of behavioral data makes it worth striving to find that optimal path forward.
I hope this overview has helped explain what exactly IoB is all about and why it‘s capturing so much interest today! Please feel free to reach out if you have any other questions.
- McHug, B. “Gartner’s IT Automation Trends for 2022.” ActiveBatch. Revisited June 30, 2023.