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Sreevathsa Prabhakar at CXM 2019: IoT is Coming


CXM Event, or Customer Experience Management Event focuses on industry-researched data of Customer journey management, design- thinking, shopping patterns, empathy mapping where there is an increased organisational spend. At the 2019 event, held on 25th of April in Mumbai, our Founder Sreevathsa Prabhakar spoke about the imminent adoption of IoT and the challenges that businesses and consumers will face. Here is an excerpt from his talk:

IoT Will Blur the Lines in Traditional Product Categories

Every product you buy tomorrow could potentially be a device. Right from a toothbrush, to a shoe to even a spoon. Today, we have a few smart devices that can do quite a few things for us. But still, they have their own limitations. Your phone can't control all other devices to you own and it certainly can't predict when your home appliances are going to break down.

Soon, every product might be an IoT product, capable of not only connecting to the internet but also to other products. This will open up new vistas for us to build an ecosystem with unlimited possibilities.

Heavy Betting on IoT Already

So, is IoT merely a passing phase or is there more to it? Let's take a look at some numbers. According to an IDC study, there will be nearly a $1.2T investment with a 13.6% CAGR growth.

Gartner estimates that by the year 2021, about 25B IoT units will be installed and IoT-related spending will reach nearly $3T. This opportunity is exciting when looking at these numbers, but there are some challenges that consumers and businesses will face.

Tipping Point

The first challenge is mass adoption, without which the success of any new innovation fails. It can be understood better with the help of this graph. This is the hype cycle (slide 4 below) – which was first developed by Gartner. It charts innovations through five stages.

  1. Technology Trigger is the theoretical or research breakthrough. People start to get excited.

  2. The Peak of Inflated Expectations is the point at which public discussion gets most excitable. But almost no one has a proven product; no one is really buying.

  3. The Trough of Disillusionment follows – usually accompanied by the failure of businesses too early into the field. The survivors will be those who delight early adopters.

  4. The Slope of Enlightenment is the point – like the ramp-up in the S-curve – when products with a clear practical benefit emerge. Customers overcome the inertia Kennedy described around the cost of switching.

  5. The Plateau of Productivity is when mass adoption really beds in and it’s much easier for customers to commit to the new tech.

  6. From point 3 to point 5, is the real push to mass adoption. The key ingredient to crossing the bridge to that stage is Consumer Experience.

Do People Buy Products or Experiences?

Consumers will buy a product only if they see value in it. Innovative products by themselves do not guarantee a successful product. However, if a consumer gets a great experience at every touchpoint with the brand, then there is a larger scope of mass adoption.

However, some stark realities specific to IoT’s adoption will need to be addressed.

Consumer Issues

Let's first see what issues consumers will face when IoT will finally transition from niche to mainstream.

Reality 1:

Today, we buy appliances without worrying whether they will work with our electricity but imagine a future where new purchases need to talk to your existing products. A new IoT device, say a digital assistant powered speaker, might be incompatible with your TV, fridge, smart bulbs and your home entertainment system. If all of future purchases make consumers question so much, mass adoption of IoT devices will be affected.

Reality 2:

After buying, comes the stage of setting up IoT devices. Ensuring the new Smart Speaker connects to the home Wi-Fi and also to the Smart TV and every other household product. But one misstep here will leave consumers feeling helpless, especially since multiple scenarios are usually not explained at this stage, by even the most consumer focussed brands.

Reality 3:

They say that if a consumer cannot find a feature, it doesn’t exist. And since in an IoT world, we hope that every product will communicate with each other, there might be so many unused features that might irk consumers. Especially if all most of their products are from different brands. Such shortcomings might lead to unhappy consumer experiences, again impact mass adoption of IoT products.

Reality 4:

Imagine a scenario where you walk into your living room and say 'set the living room to comfort mood'. The speaker will read this command, relay it to the smart bulbs to change its colour to a soothing one, while the thermostat settings will be auto-adjusted based on the sensor's readings of the ambient temperature outside. Oh and the TV turns on and plays the comforting movie you have pre-selected.

But one fine day, nothing happens when you say the same command. Each individual product seems to work fine on its own but as a chain, it fails. So where do you even start? Who do you call for assistance? Which product’s brand is in a position to begin helping you?

Business Issues

Now that we've seen what issues will plague consumers, let me highlight some that will also impact businesses.

Transformation of Business Operation

Businesses will have to incorporate a ‘Technology first’ mindset. Traditional shoe-making companies are now building health products, car makers now want to build autonomous driving systems for all kinds of vehicles. An IoT driven economy will blur the lines of product categories, which will have direct impact on the fulfilment ecosystems.

Companies will have to adopt rapid innovation & rapid go-to market strategies.

Must Have Features of a IoT Ready Ecosystem:

To have a successful CX ecosystem, brands will have to align themselves with newer objectives:

  • Empower workforce with agile and adaptive upgrade of their skillset to deal with ever-changing landscape of IoT devices and their protocols
  • Build intelligence across the IoT ecosystem which will predict when consumers need assistance with any and every issue
  • Unify experience by seamlessly working with all major IoT standards across products to elevate consumer experience
  • Proactively identify and fix potential breakdowns in the IoT mesh of interconnected devices
  • Ability to analyse the huge amounts of data generated by IoT devices to unlock business potential

Servify is Already IoT Ready

Building a solution for such a complicated network of devices isn't easy. Being a tech platform, however, gives Servify an added edge. By working with some of the top global ecosystem brands, we have developed capabilities that enhance the device ownership experience. While IoT will have an array of products from different OEMs, our platform can provide all the features needed for an IoT ready CX ecosystem.