It is difficult to overstate how big a role the Internet of Things (IoT) could play in your businesses customer relationships. It gives an opportunity for companies to understand their customers and environments like never before, with the use of data from smart sensors being central to achieving this. Effective data analytics can uncover intelligent insights that can lead to increased customer satisfaction and experiences and in turn improving customer relationships.

Connectivity = Better Customer Relationships

Historically, to understand your customers was very much about what and how much product they bought through standard point of sales in stores or through a web portal online. Boardroom conversations were mainly about dollars, sales targets, forecasting. Now, with increased technology entering our everyday stores, we can analyse traffic patterns, dwell times at particular sections of stores and consumer behavioural analysis. This is achieved through a fusion of sensors, from intelligent camera solutions (Shoppertrak), to proximity sensors in store, but can easily be done online also, utilising statistics around product clicks, basket flow (where we look at why people add/remove products to online baskets or walk away).

Rapid Product and Customer Learning

IoT has the potential to ensure we learn about our products and customers at far accelerated rates. By understanding how customers are using their products or services through this connectivity can ensure companies can react and update features at far greater rates. Companies can also interpret future models to align with customer trends and behaviours. This can accelerate the waste process of inducing consumers with reactive surveys, and become leaner and more data driven in their research and development processes.

Naturally with so much connectivity, the learning cycle will not only consider the products you buy, you as an individual and your habits. It will consider also a resource called open data, which is other data available that can be associated with how your customers behave. Example open data includes weather, news feeds, social media and traffic information which come from connected data sources. How long you spend in traffic or how wet it is can impact your buying patterns in store. If companies can understand this in real time, it can adjust its selling strategy to its customers and improve customer relationships.

Marketing Revolution

Standard market channels are now being complimented with far more intelligent practices to allow retailers to interact in far better ways with the consumers. The main goal is ensuring the right product is presented at the right time to the consumer. With the increase connectivity of people via mobile technologies with awareness of their buying history and habits, this allows retailer to use sensor technology and other methods to present offers at the right time. A good example of this is people who are waiting in a security line at an airport. This is considered dead time, with customers open to receiving personalised offers to them via beacon technology based on previous shopping habits in the airport.

A big advantage to this form of targeted and personalised marketing means that you increase your return on investment (ROI) from advertising, with great hit rates increasing your bottom line.

Consumer Privacy

Due to the sheer volume of devices, data volume, security and networking topologies that result from IoT, it is natural for there to be a lot of questions and legal challenges around governance and privacy. How do I know my data is secure? Where is my data stored? If I lose a device, what happens to data in flight? To address their concerns, it is crucial to ensure the control of their data remains with them, and it’s their decision on what they share. The minimum is to ensure that any personal identifiable data (PII) is not shared without permission

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has said that 70% of the 230,845 frauds recorded in 2013/2014 included a cyber-element, compared to 40% five years ago. This would indicate that we aren’t doing a very good job on protecting the existing internet enabled devices, so why should we be adding more devices?

It is not only the singular consumer that needs to be aware of privacy and governance. Businesses too will need to ensure when they adopt IoT, they must place resources at the door of the legal requirement and implications of IoT enablement. A key aspect of this will be to ensure their internal teams are aligned in relation to IoT, and more specifically, security, data protection and privacy.

Conclusion

IoT and the vast quantities of information that will be generated can benefit both companies and individuals on building more effective relationships and interactions. The key is to ensure you know your IoT identity and be aware of the potential benefits and risks to you as an individual or company. Many sources are predicting the market for IoT to reach $20+ billion by 2020, and this has opportunity for all. An essential step should be to understand what risk you can take and when on the journey towards better, more productive customer relationships.