Someone starts talking to you about the Internet of Things (IoT). Do you smile and nod along, with no idea what they are referencing, or do you have something to add? Do you fall somewhere in the middle? No matter where you are on the spectrum, we’ve put together a few talking points you can use to sound not only smart, but also ahead of the curve, next time IoT comes up in a conversation.
First, give a brief history lesson.
The “Internet of Things” is a term coined in the late 90s by British inventor Kevin Ashton. At the most simple level, IoT is defined as anything with a sensor and an endpoint. According to Heroku CTO Morten Bagai: “IoT is not something that is technically new. Machine to machine (M2M) has existed in the consulting land for multiple decades. Now the technology has evolved so it’s possible to participate in IoT without $50 million in project budgets.”
Next, expand on the traditional definition of IoT.
Say, “While I am familiar with the most basic definition of the Internet of Things, what we really need to build is an ‘Internet of Customers.’” Share that although connecting to physical devices is important, the Internet of Things becomes infinitely more meaningful when device data is paired with data about the people behind the devices. The Internet of Customers encapsulates any and every personal interaction, from web site engagement and device usage, to email histories and mobile data. All this must be connected to create a meaningful IoT experience.
Then, suggest that storing data is not enough.
There are an estimated seven billion mobile devices out there generating enormous volumes of data. That number is expected to hit 50 billion by 2020. Add in all of the interactions touched on in the above paragraph and the amount of current and projected data is off the charts. As a result, many companies are prioritizing storing information above all else. But a data stockpile doesn’t help you better connect to your customers. What should be prioritized is how you are processing and understanding that data so it ismeaningful and actionable. Examining this data in real-time, and identifying the most significant events, is the secret to engaging with businesses and customers proactively.
Lastly, point to the future of IoT.
In order to be meaningful, the reaction to data needs to be in real-time, personal, and contextual. Think of it like missing a flight connection. Instead of competing to get rebooked, your airline recognizes you are going to need a different flight while you are still midair on your first leg, automatically gets you a new seat to your destination, and upgrades you based on your mileage status. The only way they can do this is by processing data on you, your flight’s status, and upcoming flight details in real-time. This level of engagement — which makes the move from reactive, to proactive, and eventually, to predictive — is the next wave of IoT innovation.
P.S. Mention that customers now expect this type of response.
If you want to really demonstrate your cutting edge understanding of IoT, bring up how customer expectations have changed. They want to be engaged with. They want personalized alerts and support. They want a company to know who they are and for that view to be consistent across an organization. Data and insights from IoT will enable companies to take smarter, more personalized actions that improve the customer experience.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.
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