Are you ready for a day when your fridge can order more orange juice on its own when you run out, or where your car can automatically book an oil change appointment every five thousand miles?
We are rapidly moving towards a world where objects and devices that previously lacked any capabilities of connecting to the Internet or communicating with one another are now being networked with IP addresses to create new interactions with people and other devices.
It’s a new wave of computing that those in the technology industry refer to as “The Internet of Things” (or as we at Salesforce like to call it, The Internet of Customers).
The leading age of this new age of computing is quickly becoming commonplace for many consumers. Look around and you’ll see baby monitors that enable parents to check in on their little ones via a smartphone, refrigerators capable of alerting hungry users when they’re low on eggs and thermostats that can be set remotely and personalize the climate of a house in anticipation of their owner’s return.
Make no mistake: virtually everything you touch could one day soon boast its own IP address and the ability to connect to the Internet and other devices. In fact, technology companies are betting big on these connected devices.
Researchers at Cisco believe there are as many as 10 billion “things” already connected to the Internet, with that number expected to grow to more than 50 billion “things” over the course of the next decade. A recent Bloomberg story, citing data from New York-based researcher IBISWorld showed the market for thermostats alone to be worth as much as $3 billion.
With this in mind, think about how the relationship with your customers has changed in the age of social networks and mobile computing. Ubiquitous mobile computing and the rapid adoption of social channels has created new ways for organizations to connect with their consumers, offering instant, real time and one-on-one interactions in a way never before thought possible.
Consumers are now demanding more than ever from brands and organizations. A 1-800 customer service line is antiquated in the eyes of many consumers who want complaints dealt with over Twitter or Facebook instantly.
These same customers are going to demand even greater levels of interaction and deeper involvement with their favourite brands when not only they, but the products they own, are able to communicate with your organization.
Sales data is one of the most precious commodities inside any organization and the information associated with the where and why your products are being purchased is worth its weight in gold. Thanks to the Internet of Things, smart devices will be able to collect and transmit data automatically, without the need for monitoring.
Now imagine combining this with a dependable customer relationship management (CRM) tool, which can go beyond simply collecting and organizing client data, to analyze that information and suggest actionable results almost instantaneously.
Thanks to this constant, automatic, flow of information, organizations specializing in B2B sales will be able to monitor their products, track their usage and predict where their clients are in a buying cycle with minimal effort and maximum ROI.
Whether it’s noticing that an IP-enabled workout shirt has been washed 50 times and offering its owner a discount on a new shirt or calling the customer when their tires have reached a certain mileage threshold, consumers are going to demand greater levels of interaction with their favourite brands.
Never before have organizations been given the opportunity to forge deeper relationships with their customers as those afforded by the next wave of computing and the Internet of Things. The possibilities are endless and the potential is nearly limitless. It’s now up to organizations to make the most of these new opportunities.