The Internet of Things (IoT) or Internet of Everything, as is probably now more appropriate, was a phrase coined by Kevin Ashton back in 1999, when he was working in marketing for Procter & Gamble. Despite its inauspicious beginnings in the cosmetics industry, by the late 00’s onwards, everything IoT was cool.

Connecting devices to the internet is now the norm, with many new connected products being released every day. According to Gartner, in just 4 years’ time we could well see 26 billion IoT devices in existence, that’s 3.3 devices per person on the planet! Perhaps this is why the IoT honeymoon is over: today simply announcing another device with connectivity doesn’t guarantee success, as FitBit found out with their recent launch at CES, where new fitness tracker was greeted by a fall in their stock price.

With demands and expectation high, how can B2B brands be sure they can deliver and differentiate in the crowded market that is the IoT?

A Proliferation of Acronyms

As everyone began using the term IoT, companies found that simply slapping the term on a new product did nothing to differentiate it. So we’ve seen almost every sector adapting the IoT moniker for their industry with their own branding with names such as IoHT (Internet of Healthcare Things) and IoGT (Internet of Green Things). We’ve even heard security companies try to sell their products with the rather scary IoTTK (Internet of Things That Kill)!

Where are we now?

The EIoT – The Enterprise Internet of Things (this is the closest we could find to Internet of B2B things!) is set to account for 40% or 9.1 billion devices by 2019 as reported by Business Insider.

There are still people questioning the rush to connect everything. There was the great IP address shortage that never seemed to cause problems (NAT was always going to solve that one), the political battles to make one standard to rule all others (actually it looks like there will be a few different standards that each serve different applications) and the ever-present fear of the risk of software failure (being connected makes updates possible that can fix bugs before the user is even aware they are present).

So the IoT is here to stay, and perhaps this is the problem.

Why IoT is no longer a Compelling Brand

Despite all the branding efforts, using IoT or a version of the term, is fast becoming a way to make journalists start to yawn and look for excuses to finish the briefing. This is particularly true in the B2B world, where buyers and journalists are typically much more technically-savvy than consumers.

With the inevitable progress towards connecting almost everything (most likely including the often maligned internet fridge), why does IoT induce such apathy and disinterest?

The reality is that IoT has already hit maturity, and connectivity is no longer a differentiator or benefit for many products: it’s the entry ticket to be considered. Marketers have to understand that trendy terms can only be trendy for a period of time, and the rapid progression of technology means that it has taken only a few years from the first wave of IoT devices to connectivity becoming a commodity.

The reality is that the internet of things is now just the internet. It’s no longer cool for data to be transmitted automatically, it’s what is expected. Just as a website redesign is no longer a reason to issue a press release, marketers must understand that slapping the IoT brand on a product is not a marketing strategy. To be successful, they must communicate the benefits of their product that are unique and different. Back to good old marketing, I guess!