By Michael Foster

So far it’s been a quiet revolution, but it’s a really big deal. I’m talking about voice recognition and the Internet of Things (IoT).

By now, IoT has infiltrated millions of American homes, with what you might call “smart speakers” driving recent adoption thanks to their low costs. Estimates from Gartner predicting sales of these devices to rise to $2 billion by 2020. Many industry insiders find that estimate to be far too conservative, despite the low price point of many of these devices. And that price point continues to decrease. Most recently, the Amazon Dash Wand, a handheld Alexa-enabled device designed for kitchen use, is selling for $20.

The Dash Wand also shows just how easy it is to expand an IoT footprint – and how it might force different vendors to be creative about becoming the IoT standard for consumers. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and most recently Apple are getting into the game with smart assistant-enabled devices designed to make living – and shopping – much easier. While the Amazon Echo and Google Home are the most recognizable examples of these virtual assistant-enabled devices, the Dash Wand demonstrates that the future of AI-enabled devices rests not so much on the form factor of the device but on the service itself. Thus the term “smart speakers,” while in keeping with the familiar model of adding “smart” to any number of devices, isn’t necessarily the most accurate description.

And the quality of each AI technology is fiercely contested. Complaints about Siri misunderstanding requests are easy to find online, and the debate over whether Alexa or Google is more adept at answering questions and making life easier is far from resolved.

But who wins this war doesn’t matter so much right now. For everyone, the more important fact is that the war is continuing on many fronts, and many more will appear in the future.

Expect Google and Amazon to make their virtual assistants more readily available in additional products, probably including third-party hardware devices. An Alexa-enabled coffee maker next to an Alexa-enabled microwave sharing a house with an Alexa-enabled vacuum and washing machine? Expect it, and expect it soon.

But what’s the point of having all of these devices connected to each other? Simple: automation. While armchair economists fret over automation taking jobs away from the economy, just about everyone who can afford it is welcoming automation into their homes, whether it’s in the form of a Roomba vacuum or smart lights that turn on and off according to the time of day.

What does any of this have to do with marketing?

A lot.

The more smart devices a consumer has, the more interactions by consumers with the internet through this growing IoT ecosystem. That means there will be more touch points for consumers to buy items online instead of going to a physical location. And that means the way you market to people and the channels you expect people to buy things will change.

The new IoT-first marketing campaigns will not look like digital-first or mobile-first marketing campaigns of old. Just like many marketers found themselves left behind when the world went from desktop to smartphone, many will be left behind when we go from screens to ubiquitous service-enabled devices. This shift could be a very rude awakening for many digital marketers who simply don’t think auditorily – for them marketing has always been a visual-first form of communication.

Don’t get left behind. At this year’s DMA &THEN conference, we’ll provide an overview of the latest developments in voice recognition technology, changing consumer behaviors and how the platforms that advertisers have become accustomed to using to connect with customers are now getting disrupted by IoT. SciFutures CEO Ari Popper is going to introduce you to the business-to-algorithm (B2A) strategy and show you how new markets created by algorithms are going to change your market forever.

This article is brought to you by &THEN, DMA’s annual event. Click here to join the leaders of the marketing community and explore how data transforms marketing in New Orleans, October 8-10. Save over $300 when you register online.