Internet of Things: Connection Without Commitment And Loyalty Without Labels

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No, this is not another column announcing the latest app for meeting local or global singles, so I apologize if that's why you clicked. However, this IS about the connections consumers have with their beloved technology and how your company can evolve before being stood up.

Intelligent products and services are moving from being standalone entities to connected elements within collaborative webs of intelligent things. This technological teamwork is just starting to show the massive potential to consumers, and we can expect an exponential rise as the Internet of Things continues to grow.

Consumers may be getting used to IoT connected devices; however, the technology still requires human intervention for set-up, monitoring and feedback.

But what if that wasn’t the case? What if we could accelerate this process with intelligent automation?

When you add artificial intelligence to the mix, the value that consumers generate from IoT devices will greatly increase, as the devices become able to make decisions and take action on their own.

While this may sound straight out of "The Jetsons" - the technology isn't a load of asteroids.

What if your bank account could communicate with your online supermarket account? With that connection, your bank account could indicate when finances are tight and flag your supermarket account to suggest value items instead of premium products.

What if your bed could let your coffee machine know you had overslept? Not only would the machine know when your coffee should be ready, but given the less-than-average hours of sleep you got, it would provide a stronger brew that day as well.

Sounds pretty convenient, right?

To take advantage of these consumer perks, businesses must evaluate and strategically plan their approach to IoT and AI. Ask yourself, what does my business offer consumers, what is a common consumer pain point and how could technology alleviate this?

While this may complicate your customer mapping, it keeps your business on the map. If you're not committed to consumer customization, you should at least understand that consumers are no longer committed to you.

With consumer values and expectations changing rapidly, loyalty is being redefined. People expect to mix-and-match, compare the price and quality of similar products, try before they buy, and pay for what they use. Product and service providers must design new engagement models to respond to consumers' desire for flexibility and customized experiences.

The key to success will be to create systems that offer freedom and comfort, while making consumers commit in different ways to establish loyalty. Brands that may in the past have neglected post-purchase customer experiences and ongoing relationship management will find that these elements are now key drivers of loyalty.

It's no longer enough to have a solid product. Your competitors have a solid product as well, and they may already be heading down this path. "Thank you for your purchase" certainly isn't going to cut it if you want a second (or third) go with consumers.

Mark Ohrvall is Senior Vice President and Indianapolis Center Head for Virtusa, a leading worldwide provider of IT consulting and outsourcing services.

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