IoT is not a choice but a necessity for survival and relevance in a hypercompetitive market with unforgiving customer attitude. Similar to other trends such as mobile, cloud and social, enterprises that are not on board with an IoT strategy risk losing relevance in the minds of their customers and partners and eventually losing their market share.
What is different?
There are three key reasons why a successful adoption and implementation of IoT is critical for business survival and relevance.
Customers have an enormous amount of choice in front of them for any and all products they need. They are constantly being bombarded with messages about alternatives that offer bigger, better value propositions. Consumers and users have a finite capacity for gathering and interpreting messages, and their mind share will gravitate towards the most personalized, customized and contextual messages.
Crowded markets are often characterized with low switching costs due to products being commoditized and a crowded message sphere with similar-sounding messages. Superior customer service and highly efficient supply chains can often be the reason for a differentiated offering. Even in markets that are not crowded, customer service and internal efficiency can increase the size of the competitive moat around an enterprise’s product line.
Customers and consumers are constantly connected through a multitude of devices that they own or those that surround them. For example, users might have their smartphones and/or tablets with them while they are at home or work or in public arenas such as airports, stadiums, etc. This constant digital connection means that they have the ability to request information and also have the ability to be reached with relevant messages. It also means that customers are constantly distracted with messages and the time and attention they do spend on your products and services needs to be heavily optimized.
Connectedness also means that customers expect the products and services they invest in to offer the best possible experience regardless of where they are and how they are connected. It also means that good and bad service or experience is almost immediately shared on social media and social networks. It also means that customers expect instant remediation and support when they hit roadblocks and issues and it means that if users are stuck, they have the ability to find and use alternatives.
Customers and consumers expect the products and services they use to work. Period. They are less forgiving to bugs, errors, downtimes or suboptimal user experience. They expect products and services to not only work every time they use them but also the experience to be fast and predictive. They expect the products and services to be extremely easy to discover, learn, use and continue using. These high expectations make it critical for businesses to constantly monitor, analyze and predict their value supply chains and avoid any downtime or suboptimal experiences all together.
Getting started with IoT
The above phenomena puts several new type pressures on the enterprise. Here are some common considerations that have a high correlation with IoT success:
A robust data stack
Enterprises successful in harnessing IoT have a robust data stack that can easily handle and scale up to deal with the multitude of devices that generate large volumes of data at very high speed. It is critical that the data stack be able to scale up in at least two dimensions. First, the stack should be able to handle multiple, devices and systems that can often contain business critical signals. Secondly, the stack should be easily able to assimilate other external data sets that when put together, can reveal business critical insights.
A powerful instrumentation strategy
Enterprises successful in harnessing IoT are able to have a strong control and influence on their data generation and collection. They are able to instrument any and all forward interfaces and devices used by their customers, consumers and partners. This instrumentation can not only collect profile information about their users but also understand user activity and the environment in which the activity is being carried out. In addition, they are also able to scour their ecosystem for other relevant data sources that can help them understand the impact of external and peripheral factors on their product’s discovery, adoption and sustained usage.
Analytics and model-based predictive workflows
IoT-capable enterprises almost always have a dual-mode analytics stack that powers both the line of business users who are under pressure to be data-driven in their decisions and actions and need access to data that is already blended, enhanced and ready for exploration and visualization.
Similarly, successful enterprises also invest in using disparate data streams to model their users, processes and business workflows and test new incoming activity against predefined models of legitimate versus illegitimate, valuable versus not valuable, expected versus unexpected activity and adapt the behavior of their products and systems to best serve (or not serve) the users/customers behind that activity.
Adaptive products, marketing and user experience
By far the most important reason for success with IoT for enterprises is their ability to rethink their products, marketing and user experience through insights and analysis of their big data.
Products should be adapted to sense the user’s environment, the user’s profile and the user’s intent. Given the user’s past history of using the product, the product should adapt its interface and behavior to best serve the user and enable them to make the right decisions and carry out the actions they intend to.
Marketing should be adapted by sensing the user’s environment to determine the best message that should be delivered to the various screens that surround them. This should include the right message for the current channel, form factor of the screen and the stage in the customer life cycle of the customer/user.
User experience should be adapted by sensing user intent, their recent activity gathered from a unified customer/user model that has a comprehensive record of all user/customer actions, behavior and their interactions with the product, the enterprise touch points such as store fronts, websites, mobile apps, customer support and customer communities and forums.
The availability of choice, constant connectedness and high expectations from IoT-enabled products and services that users/consumers/customers spend their time, attention and money is having a profound affect on how enterprises think about their product, marketing and user experience strategies. Going big with IoT is not an option anymore but a necessity for enterprises to deliver the right product and service to their users/customers at the right time in the right format and thus maintain their relevance and value in this new world.