Two stories in the news, at totally opposite ends of the scale, stood out to me this month.

The first story was about Carnival Cruises employing the latest tech to improve their customer experience. The Ocean medallion can be worn in a variety of ways and allows the user to pay for goods and facilities, access their cabin, find their way around the ship and locate others on board. But not only does it enhance the holiday experience for the user (and make it easier to pay for things), it also gives Carnival real-time data about its customers. So where they spend their time, what they are purchasing, eating, drinking, and when, and what facilities the use. The insights are invaluable in mapping and predicting their customers’ habits. It’s not the first holiday brand to implement such a system, but it is still a massive undertaking with huge costs, so Carnival clearly sees the benefits to capturing and using customer real-time data and is investing in its future.

The second was the humiliating story of Paralympian and wheelchair user, Anne Wafula-Strike, who was forced to wet herself on a train journey as she had no access to a toilet.

Anna was on a CrossCountry train from Nuneaton to Stanstead, when she noticed the disabled toilet was out of order. She asked for assistance and was told they would help her to the platform toilet at the next stop. Only on arriving at the stop did staff find out there were no staff members to help at that station. Unable to wait until the train arrived at the next stop, she had no choice but to wet herself.

Apparently, the train should not have been in service as it had a door fault, but two other trains had been damaged (by would you believe it, cows!) so it had to be used. CrossCountry issued an apology and the offer of complimentary first class tickets, but even so, nothing makes up for losing your dignity.

Now if only staff had known in advance there were no staff members available on the platform. It could have prevented this horrible experience from happening. Real-time data could have helped stop the Paralympian from peeing herself (plus I do believe that the Equality Act should ensure that businesses provide facilities for all, not just the able-bodied).

Crucially there is a massive difference in budget between the two companies. CrossCountry trains probably don’t have nearly the budget of Carnival Cruises. But the two stories just highlighted the different experiences for a customer, and how real-time data and the Internet of Things can affect the service you receive.

On a small scale you can take advantage of the Internet of Things by improving your home environment with Philips Hue lighting controllable from your iPad, use Hive or Nest to monitor and remotely change your heating settings, and install a Samsung Family Hub fridge which contains a camera inside to show you what you have in, or it can email you if you prefer!

Or on a larger scale, Barcelona is now a ‘Smart City’, making use of real-time data and the Internet of Things to ease traffic congestion and improve the environment.

The possibilities are endless for how marketers and businesses apply those possibilities to their goods and services to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations.