Public Relations Tactics

Bug Labs’ Peter Semmelhack on social machines

August 6, 2013

“Technology is moving very quickly from being very geeky to very ubiquitous,” said Peter Semmelhack, founder and CEO of Bug Labs, in his keynote at the PRSA Digital Impact Conference on how to develop connected products that change customers’ lives. He discussed the “Internet of Things” and the importance of connecting billions of devices.

The ability for something to go viral is based on three waves: the potential for many customers, smartphones and the Internet of Things.

“It’s not good enough to just connect these devices: You need to create a service around them,” he said. “Gadgets need services — it’s the idea of the social machine.

“A thing plus a network equals value,” Semmelhack said. There are opportunities and challenges, so product developers need to consider both customers and developers in their designs.

The Internet can turn “thing-makers into service providers.” Also, things like chairs have unrecorded data, he said, so we need to establish a trusted presence.

“Build trust in key publics with technology,” Semmelhack said, citing case studies on 3G teddy bears for loneliness, social vending machines with free samples, and social retail.

“Technology can protect and provoke,” he said. “You can own your data. Big Data is not the Internet.”

He reminded the audience that the Internet of Things leads to innovation and value creation.

“Open standards are the only way. Tech is 10 percent of the problem. We need leaders,” he said. “Technology is not the problem. The key is how you use it.”  — Amy Jacques

Check out #PRSADIConf as told through social media posts here, or follow @PRSAevents for news on upcoming PRSA events.


Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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