4 Things CEOs Need to Know about Competitor Monitoring and the Internet of Things

Competitor monitoring is an art that will become more difficult to master and even more important as the Internet of Things develops

Internet of Things (IoT) network

Being able to track your competitor online can be difficult enough, but the development of the Internet of Things (IoT) may make things a lot more difficult. This is why there is some stuff that every small business CEO should know about competitor monitoring in this brave new world.

What is the Internet of Things?

Though, you might be aware of the concept, and you might have been told to look out for it, you might have no idea what the IoT actually is.

In short, the IoT is the idea that the connectedness which defines the internet will extend beyond our phones and desktops in the years to come. To borrow an example from technology journalist Daniel Burns, cities will change within the IoT. Rather than traffic lights that work using a system of timed on/off circuits, “we’ll have smart stoplights that can respond to changes in traffic flow. Traffic and street conditions will be communicated to drivers, rerouting them around areas that are congested, snowed-in, or tied up in construction.”

In essence, the IoT will mean that technology which in the past has seemed beyond the reach of the internet (“things” like vacuum cleaners, traffic lights, and cars) will become integrated into a system which can communicate.

Does this affect business?

It already has affected business. China’s biggest social media app, WeChat, talks to the world beyond the internet in a way that its competitors just don’t. Of course, the fact that other social media networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) are banned in China helps a lot with WeChat’s popularity. However, that does not take away from WeChat’s dizzying scale and impressive embrace of the IoT.

Alongside using WeChat to apply for jobs, book flights, and present vouchers that can be scanned on the smartphone screen, users can now apply for loans of up to $30,000. These loans are instant as the banks use your internet history (recent purchases etc.) to determine your creditworthiness. This is more than online banking and online shopping. This is an entire monetary system integrated into a single app.

Not to be outdone, Facebook are introducing Facebook M which, in its beta phase, allowed one tech journalist to order a burrito by talking to an AI.

How much is the Internet of Things worth?

Uber, the IoT’s most powerful example of profitability, could be worth between $60 billion and $70 billion. The service that allows its users to order a taxi and pay for it, simply by pressing a single button on the app, is part of a trend of apps that have dipped their toe into the possibility of the IoT. Push For Pizza is a similar concept on a smaller scale: a button is pushed, a pizza is delivered. Yet Theo Priestley argues that the near future holds a lot more for businesses who dive into the IoT in earnest, describing it as “50 billion connected devices. A $19 trillion opportunity. All by 2020.

Monitoring competitors

photo credit: Casey Fleser / Flickr

How can I monitor my competitor within the Internet of Things?

Currently, monitoring your competition online is a matter of checking your rivals’ social media updates, website, and general web activity. This can be done using the right know how and the right competitor monitoring and news alert software. An automatic competitor monitoring service can really give you the edge over your competition in this current internet age, but what about within the IoT? What will monitoring your competition look like in the internet 2.0?

As business journalist Jacob Morgan points out, businesses are still trying to “understand what the many opportunities and challenges are going to be as more and more devices start to join the IoT”. Still, with IoT taking its first baby steps into the world of business, the kind of competitor monitoring that works and the kind that does not is already making itself apparent. Using competitor analysis software that works seamlessly across tablet, mobile, and desktop is a great way to keep track of your rivals, but not every business is moving with this trend. As of April last year, 40% of the 500 biggest brands in the world were not seen as “mobile-friendly” by Google. This is unforgivable considering the phone is now the most used device for internet access.

The businesses that have had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century will not thrive when the IoT picks up steam. To stay ahead of the curve, your competitor monitoring software needs to be on the cutting edge: mobile and automatic. The reason for this is that your software needs to be able to monitor the smart competition. That is to say, the competition that will be developing services for the IoT and more services for their mobile using customers. If your competitors are trying to get a slice of that “$19 trillion opportunity” then you need the right software to keep track of them.

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