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Opinion

How to win in the era of smart speakers

On the edge of an interconnected way of living, where homes, cars, cities, offices, and even apparel talk to each other, the deluge of connected devices is not going to stop any time soon.

Telsyte predicts that by 2021, the Australian Internet of Things (IoT) market will be worth close to $5 billion, with the average Australian household having 14 different devices connected to the internet.

With the complexity that these sensors, devices, systems and APIs require to function efficiently, far too many companies are focusing their efforts on the raw technology and features of connected devices, to the extent that customer experience becomes an afterthought.

To remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market, companies must pay greater attention to the customer journey and appropriately leverage the massive amounts of data the IoT yields.

Rewriting the customer experience rule book

Consumers naturally have different tolerance levels between online and physical objects.

For example, consumers will become quickly frustrated with mobile or web applications that are slow to load or buggy. However, their expectations for physical devices are even higher, as those expectations have been set by the physical world around us for millennia. When people flip a light switch they expect the lights to go on literally at the speed of light.

With IoT adoption increasing at a fast clip, companies must adapt business models that are more connected with customer preferences, rather than chasing the latest and greatest in hardware
innovations.

The outcome of poorly performing apps is straightforward – customers will abandon an application that doesn’t perform flawlessly. Our research echoes this conclusion, with 53 per cent of people abandoning a website after just one disappointing experience with performance.

An interconnected overview

A recent Cisco survey showed connected devices are expected to number 20 billion by 2020, and yet, only 26 per cent of companies are completely successful with their IoT initiatives.

This offers an insight into the appealing, but unknown nature of IoT: specifically, that the objective is an ambitious one, which may not work to its full potential unless properly analysed.

Companies that succeed with IoT are the ones that will benefit from connected devices’ many actionable insights.

IoT is essentially a series of complex, interconnected applications. In the retail industry alone for example, the IoT can comprise numerous elements, including RFID-tracking chips, digital signage, kiosks, and smart traffic devices that can monitor and analyse footfall for store layouts.

Not only do these applications have to perform at their highest levels all the time, but businesses must also ensure the massive amounts of customer data they yield are monitored, managed, and analysed in ways that will constantly enhance business decisions and elevate the experience for the customers.

For example, knowing that consumers may be checking prices on their mobile in-store is all well and good – but the next step could be to explore ways to provide location-based services in store,
targeting high-value customers with personalised concierge services.

Having an interconnected overview of the customer journey, including visibility into applications on IoT devices, is crucial not just for immediate performance diagnostics, but also to glean the insights required to offer new and improved customer experiences.

IoT represents a new frontier of customer insight, as organisations now have a direct overview of how customers experience their products and services, and in what unique ways they forge connections between their different devices.

The difference between those who succeed or fail when it comes to IoT initiatives will always come down to how they enhance the customer experience, rather than the devices or technology itself.

Simon Horrocks is the regional vice president of ANZ for AppDynamics.

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