Hello, product-based company of some sort! Whatever you are building is going to be awesome. One of the main reasons it is going to be awesome is that its connectedness and its ability to provide real-time analytics data is going to give you and your customers a new dimension of insight.
Here is that formula if you are skimming this post:
Connected Product + IoT Analytics = Awesome
For your customers, providing analytics as a feature makes your product more awesome because it can optimize the user experience and make the product more valuable than its out-of-the-box functionality. For instance, a connected sprinkler control system can take historical watering data, then look at geographically-relevant watering data from other users in similar microclimates plus available 3rd-party weather information and save your customers (potentially a lot of) money on their water bill. This is a rather obvious application of IoT Analytics to the consumer value equation, and it is why FitBit is a thing and why Google bought Nest. Consumer-facing product information is a valuable feature, no doubt about it.
For your company, though, the backward-facing information about your products is even more valuable (to you AND your customers) than even the individual data is. In fact, IoT Analytics may in fact evolve to eventually replace CRM. If you think about CRM as a system that manages the relationship between a company and its customers, for a product-based company IoT Analytics represents a major step up in terms of clarity, speed and automation.
Sales Force Automation
When your IoT Analytics system knows when a consumable component is nearing depletion, it can automatically reorder that product. Without product-level knowledge, can your CRM do that? No.
How do you build your current forecasting model? When your connected water heater company has a tool to understand ground water temperature and the effect on product efficiency plus home sales data, you’ll have a sales map indicating where the biggest potential markets are. A good IoT Analytics solution can analyze product usage patterns and covary them with external data to inform an opportunity management solution based on key insights.
When a customer’s connected appliance breaks and your company is the first to know, (before even the customer knows) and you have already provided the product failure notification to ten service contractors all vying for the repair contract and all the customer has to do is pick the service provider they prefer, you have just delighted your customer. You couldn’t do that without product-level reporting. And when the data shows that there was one production run from one particular contract manufacturer with a failure rate outside of the average, you have also just shifted financial risk to that manufacturer (per your contract) and saved your company millions. You’re my hero.
Is your customer saying what is happening with the product or is the product saying what is happening with the product? Leave nothing to chance. Get the current and historical product data by serial number for the most accurate description of the problem for the most appropriate course of action. You’ll save CSR time (and therefore money) and more importantly, you’ll make your customers happier.
I know the title of this post is a bit provocative, and I know there are areas where IoT Analytics cannot do what CRM does, (like social media integration, maybe, but I’ve seen a coffee maker that tweets, so I may be wrong) but the point is that IoT Analytics can provide deeper information that is more accurate and more timely than a system that relies on separate and disparate sources of information. If you have a product, embedding IoT Analytics in the product is the best way to get unimpeachable data about what is actually happening, and using that data for your benefit and the benefit of your customers is undeniably huge.
For now, I am happy to concede that IoT Analytics is at least a component you must consider in your customer relationship strategy, because I happen to know your competitors are doing it, and they are about to be faster than you.