The idea of living in a smart home has always felt similar to the idea of driving around a flying car: far-off and, perhaps, not even feasible. But now with the increasing proliferation and sophistication of the Internet of Things, perhaps living in a home that knows you and your habits better than you know yourself isn't such a fantasy.

We've been hearing promise of the Internet of Things for years, but it's integration into mass culture has been gradual. Products like, Amazon's Alexa, are proving to be apt bridges, linking us from a past filled with analog tools to a hyper-connected future. Now is the time for brands to invest in building smart hardware that sparks seamless connectivity.

What Is 'The Internet of Things?'

Before I jump into how the Internet of Things will change consumer communication, let's first back up and explore exactly what the it is in the first place. Like most tech trends and buzzwords, the phrase gets thrown a lot, and often, without context.

Essentially, the Internet of Things refers to any device or piece of hardware--ranging from cars to refrigerators-- that is connected to the Internet. By bringing devices online, and connecting them to our tablets, smartphones, and wearables, tech companies, like GE and Amazon, are making it easier than ever to automate any and all systems.

Consumers benefit because the automation of everyday objects is essentially designed to make their lives easier and more efficient. Brands and technology providers also benefit because the more time people spend interacting with a connected device, the more opportunity there is to collect data on consumers behaviors and interests.

How Does the 'Internet of Things' Affect Consumer Communications?

The advent of the smartphone was a watershed event for brand marketers granting unparalleled consumer access. Trusting that audiences are never too far from their mobile devices, organizations can create layered communications programs to ensure that their content follows customers across every digital platform and physical environment.

Imagine gleaning insights into where a consumer is heading based on direction request they've just plugged into their connected car. If the consumer is traveling long distances and, even entering a new climate, an advertiser can tap into this insight and serve the consumer relevant promotions on appropriate outerwear for the destination city.

By being more connected to every facet of consumer behaviors, not just mobile searches, brand marketers have the opportunity to think two steps ahead and serve consumers targeted messaging based on what they'll need in the future, not just what they're looking for at the moment.

What's Next?

Every major tech organization is doubling down on the Internet of Things race and development is moving fast. It may seem like only tech and hardware providers have a hand in shaping this future, but any brand across every vertical has an opportunity to make its mark in this hyper-connected world through smart mobile application development.

One of the first points of entry into this world for B2C brands is to create applications with voice controlled systems, like Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant. Organizations like Tide and Campbell's Soup have already created voice-activated Skills, which enable brand to serve specific voice-content that helps consumers master a task, like cooking or building, and also sends them subsequent product purchasing link.

By building applications that support this new wave of consumer behavior, brands have the opportunity to, literally, speak directly to consumers.

Although the Internet of Things is making waves, and progress, it is not without its question marks. More connected devices also means more vulnerability and opportunity for hacking smart objects. For the Internet of Things to truly go mainstream, organizations must prove to the public that they are committed to device security and transparent about upholding Internet of Things guidelines

Many consumers are still concerned about privacy, and not necessarily open to the idea of a life in which every object in their home and office is tracking their data. While, ultimately, it is up to consumers to determine how connected they want their home and work environments to be, many will likely feel that the benefits of created a connected and efficient personal ecosystem outweigh the potential concerns.