The ‘Internet of Things’ is set to dominate the tech agenda in 2014. On the one level, we’re going to be hearing about the consumer tech prototypes that will shape the futuristic, robotic utopia that is so often depicted in sci-fi classics. Many of these sorts of connected devices were shown for the first time at CES last month, including Samsung’s ‘smart home’ and smart beds that prevent snoring.

On the other hand, the Internet of Things isn’t really about these ultramodern gadgets at all – it’s more about the mass consumption and analysis of huge volumes of data in a smart and efficient way. We are moving towards an entirely connected world, and as such the ever-increasing volume, veracity and velocity of data must be top of the agenda for all tech firms.

We heard recently that Google has acquired home electronics company, Nest Labs, for £2bn – a move that signifies Google’s understanding of what the implications of the internet of things are: data is getting bigger, better and much more valuable.

That’s why data management must not just be high on the agenda at Google; it’s a critically important consideration for international corporate boards. From a marketing and retail point of view, without the ability to read and process consumer data, the high street would be little more than just a concept.

The retailers that have used data successfully to offer their customers the best on and offline deals are the ones that still have outlets on the high street. These retailers will tell you that it’s now about the smarter reading of data and the acknowledgment that it has a new significance. To remain competitive in a difficult landscape, marketers and retailers must change the way they approach consumer data and how they deal with it.

It’s not just about quick and immediate sales. Data analysis can help to build a far more long-term picture of consumer preferences, the ways in which consumers interact with their favourite brands and generally which products consumers are more likely to buy.

The data analysis can be extended to look at the most popular weeks that consumers buy a particular product and even the time of day they’re more likely to be receptive to marketing messages.

The Internet of things, while being a fairly broad term, encapsulates a whole new world for retailers who are savvy with data. Consumer preferences change on a daily basis, but with the ability to read and act upon huge volumes of data in a whole new world of connected devices, retailers have the chance to stay ahead of the curve.