The Internet of Behavior: Where Psychology & Technology Intersect

The expanding utility of the “Internet of Things” and Cloud technology has seen an ever increasing development into greater levels of connectivity throughout all devices; as modernity marches on, so does the overall convenience offered by the multitude of devices we use in our everyday lives, from our smartphones, to our credit cards and watches. A primary factor in this is the role of the internet, which is the foremost concept in the “internet of things,” where devices can essentially connect to each other without the use of a cable (though that option, primitive as it is, still exists for the less savvy among us). However, the Internet of Behavior takes this connectivity and expands it into a realm a little less… Mechanical; that’s right, I’m talking about people, of course.

Essentially, if the “Internet of Things” is the internet based connectivity shared between devices, the “Internet of Behavior” is the process by which the IoT can be used to leverage data on human behavior, which, more so than not, is used to enhance an organization’s marketing strategy. Therefore, with the internet so engrained into our daily lives, the ability to study human behavior has grown into unbelievable realms of possibility. A more simple example of how an amalgam of interlinked technology can reveal human behavior can be found in Analytics: indeed, it is now possible to find out the specific activities of smartphone users versus Desktop users. Here, we can find out where between two specific devices a user is most likely to click, and where they are most likely to navigate. However, a more consequential example of this concept would be the identification of an individual through facial recognition technology, and how such information can be inevitably linked to, say, the purchasing of an airline ticket.

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What is IoB and What is its Significance?

Psychology has always been a valued area of study within the realm of marketing. Indeed, advertising and human behavior have always stood side by side in many respects. Along these lines, the Internet of Behavior can serve to be a very useful tool for organizations everywhere, as it will open new frontiers  in the field of data interpretation and marketing, gaining a more meaningful understanding of your customers, beyond the quantitative data offered by, say, Analytics.

There are currently a multitude of marketing techniques being employed to get a clearer picture of customer behavior, some of which include A/B testing and SWOT analysis. The resulting data is then used to assist businesses to engage in marketing strategies and to advertise their products. Within this field, the Internet of Behavior has the potential to infinitely expand within the realm where marketing intersects with human psychology. The key word here is “volume.” In the past, marketers have always had methods of collecting the digital footprints of their target audience. However, the volume of data collected through the use of IoB would be immense by comparison, indeed, down to the smallest detail.

The Key Benefits of the IoB

With the ubiquitous usage of modern technology, indeed, anything from smart cars to Bluetooth headphones, marketers can jot down the engagement patterns of their customers in detail and curate data that was once inaccessible to them. For example, one can surmise that marketing data from the likes of Google and other big tech corporations are currently expanding into a model of behavioral prediction. This means that the data from their algorithms can predict the exact time to show you an advert. Have you ever caught the topic you were just speaking about moments ago on an advertisement in your browser? It’s creepy to say the least, but indicative of the power of the IoB.

Another example includes gaining deeper insights into our personal lives. This is entirely possible through the digitization of everyday appliances such as coffee machines and heating systems. Now, couple this with the connectivity of the “internet of things” and you’ll have companies drawing up graphs of times you’ll be most likely to drink coffee in the morning (Hint: Yes, “smart” coffee machines that use cloud technology are already available). In this sense, a serious discourse on our privacy rights is sure to follow the great wave of convenience offered by the IoB.

Further, the Internet of Behavior shows great potential to thrive within the domain of voice based online search in regards to devices such as Alexa and Siri. As one of the critical functions of search engines is to understand and predict our thoughts and requirements, it is safe to say that this will spill into the realm of voice recognition technology in that webpages will eventually leverage a kind of voice based input, instead of keywords. The main reason for this is that voice based language is far richer in meaning than its text based counterpart.

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IoB’s Role in the Near Future

Recently, analysts at the Gartner IT Symposium conference had expressed their predictions for the widespread application of the Internet of Behavior. Analysts have predicted that by around 2025, more than half of people will have had experience with some form of IoB technology, either from the government or the private sector. This emergent technology is seen by those working in the cutting edge of IT to be moving into a commonplace position within the lives of all global citizens in regards to how it “will be used to link a person digitally to their actions.” Gartner, in fact, had labelled it among one of the more important trends in technological growth for 2021.

And surely, asides from the key moral discourse that is inevitably being had about it, why wouldn’t it be considered a useful tool for the private and public sectors alike? With the IoB able to collect any minute trace of one’s online footprints (one’s “digital dust” if you like) and translate it into exploitable data, this presents an obvious marketable resource for big business and one that can be used to infinitely enhance security. However, between the lines of such obvious benefits lays the moral problems which should be apparent: will the general population be willing to sacrifice privacy for convenience? It is a conversation that is already taking place, and will continue to take place so long as technology continues to expand into our everyday lives.

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