What is ‘Internet of Behaviors’ (IoB) and why should we worry?

Internet of Behaviors

Its 5:30 am, you are sound asleep, and suddenly, the alarm on the phone wakes you up. But wait, you never set the alarm as its one those days you took a leave from office. The one day you planned to sleep in and enjoy a bit with your family. But the alarm is still ringing. You shut the alarm off and go back to your sleep.

At 7 am, you get a call from an unknown number. The automated voice on the phone informs you that an Uber is waiting outside your door to take you to your office. No, you never called one but, it is still there. You deny the service, but now you are awake. Like always, you go to the washroom, and just as you are about to enter, the delivery drone hovers over your balcony with a new package of toilet paper rolls. Guess what, you just realized, that the toilet paper is almost over and you take the package.

If Gartner is to be believed, this scenario (that may look a bit exaggerated) could still all be a reality for you and almost 40% of all human beings on earth by 2023. These and many more things will be possible through ‘Internet of behaviors’ (IoB). It is where technologies like IoT, Data Analytics and behavioural science meet. IoB has also been named as one of the top trends for 2021 by Gartner.

The Internet of Things (IoT), is no longer the stuff for the movies. It is very real and is proliferating our everyday lives as we speak. Smart homes, smart cars, and smart cities are just a few examples of how IoT helps make our lives easier, more efficient. IoB seems to be the next step forward, or is it?

The illustration below can help:

Internet of Things to Internet of Behaviors

The core idea behind the Internet of Behaviors is to provide means to code, register, share, and address an individual’s behaviors to a pre-defined scenario.

Our behaviors are already being addressed and changed by the tech giants. How else can most people not get off social media or watching content they like on OTT platforms like Netflix? These, however, are still confined to a few devices for now. Imagine, it all being extrapolated to everything to see, hear, or touch — from the interactions with the door at your home to interactions with your friends.

It is going to be the best tool marketers have ever had. They will analyze your habits, study your interaction data, get deeper insights on your buying journeys, provide real-time targeted ads and Point of sales.

Furthermore, they will be able to change your behavior too. Interconnecting our data with our decision-making, they will have a gold mine of targeted opportunities to sway our decision right from buying a simple piece of furniture to choosing the next president.

Even today, it is not difficult for companies to link your smartphone with your laptop, your in-home voice assistant, your house cameras, and maybe your cell phone records. Also, it's not just the devices, Big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon continue to acquire software that potentially brings a user of a single app into their entire ecosystem — possibly and quite frequently, without the user’s knowledge or permission.

IoB is still however in its early days, but it is coming and fast. We have to hope that the privacy laws are able to play catchup in time before the technology that promises to ease our lives exposes us to new and unknown dangers.

PS: This is my first article on Medium. Do let me know if you liked it and if I can improve in certain areas! I hope to write more such thought pieces on technology and marketing.

I write on my observations on how Technologies are changing the social fabric of the world