How do you picture an average day in the future? As soon as you open your eyes in the morning, your personal robot butler asks you which 3D-printed dish you’d like for breakfast. As you get out of bed and take a peek at the mirror, it instantly comes to life with a hologram of today’s weather & to-dos.
After your room’s environment dynamically adjusts to your mood, you decide to get ready for work and let technology do all the work for you. Soon, you get a notification that your self-driving car is fully-charged and ready to go. In the age of automation, you can’t help but wonder whether this is reality, or something straight out a Jetsons episode you used to watch as a kid.
Improving Customer Experience with Internet of Things
Believe it or not, such technologies might not seem like science fiction in the future. A major facilitator of the new age of connectivity is the Internet-of-Things (IoT), which is a term for sensors connected to the internet via wireless networking. The idea was first conceptualized by Kevin Ashton, co-founder of MIT's Auto-ID Center, when thinking about using RFID to connect devices. Some experts predict it will be the next major industrial revolution, as it holds the potential to disrupt how we communicate and interact with each other in the future.
3 key technologies had a part in making IoT what it is today:
- Big Data - 90% of all the data in the world has been created in the past 2 years, than in our entire history
- Cloud Computing - Annual global spending on cloud computing is expected to grow to $141 billion by 2019 (IDC)
- Digital Transformation - Two thirds of the world’s CIOs of Global 2000 companies will place digital transformation at the center of a company’s corporate strategy, according to IDC.
As the cost of sensors decreases and more devices get connected to the internet, there is tremendous potential for IoT in industrial and business systems. Businesses can gain immense value from IoT not just in the form of growth and innovation, but in the form of revenue, cost-savings, and proactive risk management as well.
Here’s how IoT can benefit businesses:
The Big Data Theory: Combining AI and Big Data
"When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole, and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket." - Nikola Tesla, in an interview in 1926
Although Nikola Tesla was able to conceptualize a connected world well before wireless technology was invented, he would be surprised to find out the extent to which we are connected in the modern world. And, the best part - it’s getting better with time!
According to Gartner, over 20.4 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020.
With everyday machines being connected to the internet, there will be a tremendous amount of data being generated. Pushing this data into a highly-sophisticated analytics engine and applying predictive analysis can give some interesting behavioral results. It enables customers to monitor their devices and behavior to reveal opportunities for improvement. Furthermore, the analysis can improve systems by pointing out inefficiencies and irregularities in the system.
With the increase in incoming data combined with the sheer diversity of it, businesses can predict user behavior and offer better cross and upselling opportunities. In essence, businesses derive value from IoT only when effectively implemented with the Analytics-of-Things (AOT), or using sensor data for actionable business insights.
Think about a simple scenario of a connected gym - after a user completes his/her exercises, the gym relays the fitness data back to the main server and send diets based on the exercise performed on the day. The fitness company can tailor their upsells to fit the user. In this case, the business will be able to adapt new business and pricing models based on user behavior, and all facilitated by IoT.
You’re sitting at your ergonomic office desk, staring at the holographic tabletop as it juggles news reports in real-time. Occasionally, your virtual assistant reminds you of your appointments and, surprisingly, your recent purchases and activity, and you start to wonder whether it has achieved a state of self-awareness. As you take a peek at your fitness activity, the table reminds you to take a break. You get up, and the table slowly dims and goes into ‘sleep’ mode.
You suddenly realize you forgot to save the password of the last site you registered, but you figure the retina scanner will probably handle the authorization for you. As you walk out, the room intelligently dims all power and your phone lights up - a chatbot asking you how your day at work has been so far. “Yup, this is Jetsons,” you conclude.
We’ve talked a lot about the future of customer experience, and how personalization will deliver extraordinary experiences to customers. With IoT, businesses can gather more information about consumers and their preferences, and design processes and workflows to suit the needs of their customers. Real-time data would provide insights into customer behavior and automatically trigger workflows to deliver business value. Doing this, IoT will create a level of personalization not previously perceived.
The possibilities are endless - from personalized in-store retail experiences to personalized content across all channels for each customer! Chatbots can be used as an IoT interface to offer 24/7 assistance wherever you go.
Also, with the IoT ecosystem, companies are in a much better position to offer feature-based packaging, or the ability for customer to customize their product according to the features required. For example, in case of an automobile manufacturer selling consumer-based autonomous cars, customers could purchase additional features via over-the-air updates without ever having to visit the service center.
Think about the impact of personalization on the web itself in the future - would there really exist a concept of a single, common website for everyone, or will everyone see a personalized version of the website tailored to suit their personality and buying habits? Think about how shopping experience or how you will pay when you visit the grocery store. With the enormous advances in technology seen in the recent decade, we can only imagine what the future holds in store (no pun intended).
Do you think the future will be personalized?
Augmented / Virtual Reality for Immersive Customer Experiences
“Let’s hope this call fixes my self-driving car,” you hope as you put on your VR headset and turn it on. Instantly, your personalized virtual world appears in front you to interact with - an entire city full of the services you follow and use. You walk to a building with a logo and open the door, and instantly the smiling face of a man appears in what appears to be a futuristic version of a skype call. You realize you’re finally connected with the customer support specialist, who sends an Over-The-Air update as a fix for your car’s persistent overheating issue. “If only going to work would ever be so much fun”, you wonder.
Facebook had made some pretty big bets on technology, including acquisitions like Instagram and solar-powered drones to “beam internet to people from the sky”. One of the company’s wild ambitions was a virtual world in which everyone could be connected through a headset, which came in the form of Oculus Rift - invented by 22-year-old Palmer Luckey and acquired by Facebook for $2 billion after a Kickstarter campaign. It was so impressive that Luckey did not even have a fully-functioning product at the time he sold the company to the social media giant!
Whereas virtual reality consists of virtually-constructed worlds, augmented reality places virtual objects on top of the real world. Virtual and augmented reality is expected to disrupt many industries, and is already making a big impact in various sectors, including healthcare and construction.
Combined together, AR/VR could generate a revenue of $150 billion by 2020, according to MarketsandMarkets, a market research firm.
Think about it - would you rather talk to a customer support agent to get an issue resolved, or wear a super-cool headset that offers a surreal experience while you resolve the issue yourself?
In the age of automation, augmented / virtual experiences will take customer self service to a whole new level, allowing them to resolve issues much quicker with the use of devices like Hololens or Oculus Rift. Customers would go on call with a virtual experience specialist who would guide them through the entire process - all in real-time. Introduce a common development platform for the underlying technology, and you have a sure-fire recipe for increasing customer delight and reducing frustration.
IoT Customer Experience: The Road Ahead
Every year, some aspect of IoT touches our daily lives, be it smart home lighting or intelligent temperature control. More people are investing in the technology to make their lives simpler and more enriching. You can be sure of one thing - in the future, anything that needs to be connected - will be connected!