Before you make it home, your refrigerator sends you a message, reminding you to go to the grocery store for milk. When you pull up to the grocery store, your car directs you to the nearest open parking spot. Once you arrive home, your garage door opens automatically.
After settling in, you turn on a movie and the lights lower. Before bed, you use a GPS enabled sonic toothbrush that sends data about how often you care for your teeth straight to your dentist’s office.
Does this sound like something you saw in a sci-fi movie? Fiction is quickly becoming a reality, because all of this can be made possible through the Internet of Things.
According to Cisco, there will be 50 billion connected things by 2020. There is a huge opportunity for companies who can collect data from these connected things and use it to tailor marketing messages to consumers on an individual basis. That’s where CRM comes in.
What Is The “Internet of Things”?
Oxford Dictionaries defines it as “a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.”
So what does this mean to those of us who don’t speak techie? It used to be that computers and the internet depended solely on people to provide them with data. To date, we’ve amassed an astonishing 50 petabytes of online information this way. With the advent of the Internet of Things, computers are able to provide information to each other, without any help from humans.
The Internet of Things can be loosely defined as everyday objects equipped with sensors capable of connecting to the internet, creating a fully connected world. Everything can potentially be connected, not just your phone, tablet and computer, but also your clothes, appliances, vehicles, children, animals, medical devices and more, all exchanging information, in an effort to make your life easier.
Increasing Demand For CRM
Research and advisory firm Gartner has named the Internet of Things as the fifth driver of CRM, behind social, mobile, big data and the cloud. As people, places and things become increasingly connected to the internet and as the price of the sensors that connect them continue to decline, there will be an increased need for sales, marketing and customer service teams to sell, promote and support these new services.
“These drivers are spurring a critical need for more traditional operational CRM as CRM continues to top software investment priorities. This further validates businesses’ focus on enhancing customer experience and consistent investment in CRM software, especially in CSS, marketing and sales software,” said Joanne Correia, research vice president at Gartner.
Internet Of Opportunities
Once these devices begin to amass large amounts of data for every individual, there will be a big opportunity for businesses to use that data to sell to consumers in real time based on their past behaviors. The biggest challenge for the Internet of Things will be managing and analyzing the real-time data output of the devices.
All of this data will need to be stored (likely in the cloud) and be available for use by sales, marketing and customer service teams in order to build and maintain relationships with consumers. A task CRM has been purpose-built for.
What Will CRM + IOT Look Like?
The Internet of Things will present brands with new platforms for communicating with their customers
- Sales – Using purchase history contained within a CRM system, retail stores will change prices on the fly for each customer.
- Marketing – Based on customer preferences recorded by connected devices and uploaded to CRM software, companies will have the ability to adjust their messaging to specific target audiences and track success in real-time.
- Customer Service – By tracking the history of each device within a CRM database, companies will be able to place a service call to a consumer around the time that a device is predicted to fail.
The futuristic world described above won’t happen overnight. The technology is there, but the systems need streamlining so that a myriad of devices can work together. As more connected devices are introduced to the market, the need for CRM software to store the data, to be used in customer acquisition, optimization and retention will continue to grow.
The latest technological advances in CRM already include using Big Data associated with customers, combining it with data from social media, devices and sensors in order to build more personalized customer experiences. That is the epitome of the Internet of Things.