The Internet of Behavior, Explained

Where the Internet of Things & Digital Behavior Collide

In its Top Strategic Technology Trends for 2021 report, Gartner identified 9 strategic technology trends that will “enable the plasticity or flexibility that resilient businesses require in the significant upheaval driven by COVID-19 and the current economic state of the world.” One important technology that should be on our collective radar, according to the global research firm? The Internet of Behavior (IoB).

First things first, though — just what is the IoB? As you might imagine, it has a lot to do with digital behaviors. It’s also connected to — or rather, dependent on — the Internet of Things (IoT). 

At BairesDev, we specialize in building software and technology that help organizations improve their business models. Interested in how you can leverage the IoT and IoB? Read on to find out.

The Internet of Behavior, Explained 3

The Internet of Things (IoT) Defined

In order to get into the nitty-gritty of the IoB, you’ll need to understand the IoT first. In a nutshell, the IoT is a network of devices that are interconnected and connected to the internet. It encompasses many of the smart devices we use. Some examples of tools that are part of the IoT are:

  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Home appliances, such as thermostats, smart cookers, 
  • Inventory trackers
  • Security systems
  • Smart city tools and devices
  • Smartwatches
  • Wearable tech

With sensors and devices, IoT systems gather information about the behaviors and actions of their users. They then convey this data to other devices in the network without human intervention.

The IoT is instrumental in a number of industries, such as:

  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Government
  • Retail
  • Agriculture
  • Transportation
  • Finance
  • Utilities
  • Fitness

The Connection Between the IoT and the IoB

As the IoT grows, both in terms of users and the number of devices connected to the network, so does the amount of data generated by it. This is where the IoB comes in.

Most basically, the IoB is the data that is collected about users and their behaviors by IoT tools and devices. The IoB offers insights into this data — the interests, decisions, activities, emotions, and other concepts associated with usage. In other words, the IoB takes the information and revelations produced by the IoT and transforms them into actionable data for the business, the user, or both.

For example, if you have a fitness tracker, you would also use the accompanying mobile app. This app tracks activity, sleep, and more, thanks to the IoT. But the IoB takes the data gathered and turns it into suggestions about, say, how to improve your sleep hygiene.

The IoB depends on the IoT — it couldn’t exist without it — but it also plays a critical role in making the IoT productive. Ultimately, it extends the power of the IoT to understand how it affects and influences human behavior and decision-making. Behavior and decision-making can take place in a number of arenas, such as buying, selling, interacting, tracking, and many others.

Why Is the IoB Useful?

But how, exactly, can businesses leverage the IoB, and how do users benefit? There is a wide variety of ways.

One of the main purposes of gathering insights from the IoB is to improve the user experience (UX) of the product. By observing how consumers use their devices, including their patterns, UX designers and developers can optimize features that appeal to them the most. This data also allows businesses to personalize their products based on individual uses and preferences, encouraging sustained reliance on the product and business. 

This is practical for reasons beyond improving a product or service. Companies can also leverage IoB data in market research to glean the responses from product testers and hone it before release, as well as evaluate the performance of marketing campaigns and refine them for the future. 

The IoB also serves users, just as it serves businesses. For example, healthcare-related apps can observe the status of patients — such as whether they need medication refills or their level of physical activity — to make adjustments or recommendations. 

According to Gartner, the IoB has even been used to enforce COVID-19 protocols. At an industrial site, for instance, sensors or RFID tags assessed whether employees were washing their hands, while computer vision determined whether they were wearing masks. Speakers announced violations, contributing to safe behavior at work.

At the end of the day, the IoB is instrumental as a marketing tool, as well as a platform for assessing the psychology and behaviors of individuals. This important concept takes user understanding beyond what more traditional marketing tools could do in enabling businesses and organizations to create better products and improve consumers’ experiences.

Risks and Challenges

With companies having so much knowledge about their consumers’ habits and behaviors, there’s a natural concern about data privacy and cybersecurity. If this information isn’t well protected, cybercriminals could have access to an abundance of sensitive data about people.

Moreover, even putting aside the issue of cybercrime, users may be unaware that companies are collecting and using this data about them. While many appreciate the convenient, personalized experience that results from businesses leveraging the IoB, for some, businesses having so much knowledge about their private habits and behaviors feels akin to Big Brother.

In order to protect and respect consumers’ privacy, businesses leveraging the IoB must take significant strides to ensure they are using this information sensitively and appropriately, as well as implementing safeguards to avoid data breaches. One approach is to outsource cybersecurity to white-hat or ethical hackers or other professionals. They should also ensure the user knows when their private information is being tracked and collected.

In fact, there are many laws in place regarding the online collection and protection of data, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which applies to any company operating within the European Union. Under this law, organizations must make users aware of and give consent to having their data collected, as well as protect that data.

Clearly, the IoB has major implications for businesses everywhere, helping them improve marketing, products, services, and more. Curious about how you can leverage it confidently and safely? Contact BairesDev to learn about our IoT development services.

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