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Internet of Behaviours





Employees of an automobile company returned to work from the plant, after the lockdown was imposed in the pandemic. There was a sense of euphoria, a feeling of overwhelm that ran through their minds.


But they noticed quite a few differences.


At the entrance and inside the factory the system checked for the mask compliance. Attendance was recorded through pre-configured RFID tags. Digital signages and voice encouraged them to use an auto-sensing sanitiser, that sprinkled the liquid adequately on the show of individual hands. If an employee skipped the process, a buzzer in the tag sounded an alert.


Once inside the factory personal tags alerted on social distancing violations. Sensors were used to check if they were washing hands every hour. Computer vision determined if employees were compliant to the mask protocol. Speakers educated and warned people of protocol violations.


What’s more? This data on employee’s behaviour was recorded, analysed and shared to the manager as how people behaved at work.


Sounds like science fiction! Almost! But no more.


The collection and use of such data to drive behaviours is christened as the Internet of Behaviour (IOB). Gartner predicts IoB to be one of the strategic technology trends that will render resilience to business, post the significant upheaval the pandemic has offered.


IoB is an extension of IoT (Internet of Things). While the IoT, in it’s full scale , can collect data and turn into information, IoB then works to turn that information to knowledge and wisdom.


Companies using the IoT to get us to change our behaviours isn’t really about ‘things’. As the IoT links people with their actions, they are extending it to IoB. Consider IoB as a combo of technology, data analytics and behavioural science.


As companies learn more about us (the IoT), they can affect our behaviours (the IoB). For instance, a health app on your smartphone can track your diet, sleep patterns, heart rate, or blood sugar levels. The app can alert you to adverse situations and suggest behaviour modifications towards a more positive or desired outcome – say sleeping early, meeting exercise goals or having a light dinner.


Moving ahead, companies will mostly use the IoT and IoB to observe and attempt to change our behaviour to achieve their desired goal, say, to purchase their products.


Marketers , as well as psychologists, agree that personalisation is the cornerstone for creating value propositions for each user. The more effective a service, more the engagement, and more is the rate of change in behaviour.


This gives companies we do not normally love engaging with, like insurance providers and banking, the opportunity to change their image. Pulling from the IoT, they can provide data-driven value. Optimize your individual premium based on health habits or a clean driving record. Nudge you towards more saving, investing, or other long-term financial goals.


The IoB is about using data to change behaviours. It will affect how organisations interact with people. As organisations improve on the volume of data they capture, they will learn how to combine it from different sources and make useful meaning out of it. It will also affect how consumers buy.


The security and privacy consequences are complicated, and data security is a growing concern. The IoB approach, interconnecting our data with our decision-making, demands change of our cultural and legal norms. Interestingly, a host of nations, including India are legislating modern cyber-laws.


IoT surely converts data to information. But it is too early to know whether the IoB can translate knowledge of us into real wisdom.


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