With new smart products hitting the market almost daily, IoT is changing the way we look at consumer products and workplace equipment, in a variety of ways. We can interact with these products in new ways, we can gather insights from these products that we could never get before, and we can use these products to automate the mundane tasks that have slowed us down in our lives. However, there is one significant change that may not be as obvious at first glance that will mean everything to the success of an IoT company. Household appliances and office equipment will no longer interface with us simply as products, but in most cases will provide a service. IoT is revolutionizing how product companies maintain relationships with their customers as service providers in the following ways:
1) Companies can proactively monitor and troubleshoot your products before they fail
With the ability to monitor the devices over the Internet, companies will be able to notice symptoms of failure, diagnose the problem remotely and troubleshoot the device by sending a patch over the internet, or sending a technician to come and fix the problem. Due to the ability to track machine data, companies are taking a service approach by contacting customers to notify them of a potential failure and that a fix is on the way before the customer experiences any inconvenience from a shutdown. This will remove the headache of having to scramble to find a solution or contact customer support. Haven’t we all experienced the frustration of needing to call our internet service provider when our internet is down? With IoT, technical support will come to you, and they will come to you with an answer before you ever ask the question.
2) If a product does fail, the customer may receive a replacement without needing to incur the cost of replacement
We have all experienced the dreaded inevitable; our computer, television, refrigerator or dishwasher stops working when we least expect it. As a result, you have to call a repairperson, and if that doesn’t work, you must start shopping for a replacement. The process typically takes days or weeks, leaving the customer without the product that is part of their every day life, and the customer is also hit with an unexpected cost. If you purchased your IoT appliance or enterprise equipment by paying a monthly fee, the product owner will replace the appliance/equipment, removing the hassle of shopping for a replacement, and eliminating a painful unbudgeted cost. In subscription service based business models, maintenance and replacement of a product are part of the monthly fee.
3) You will not need to upgrade the product every few years, the product will upgrade itself
We are familiar with the cycle; our computers, phones, and smart watches stop working or become outdated every two or three years, and are replaced by sleeker, faster and more powerful replacements. This model cannot work effectively for consumers investing in refrigerators, washers or dryers; or for businesses investing in printers, lighting systems or factory equipment. The good news is because the product is now connected to the internet with an ability to transfer data, companies will have the ability to patch upgrades over the internet and provide the latest technology for your product. Each product will be designed to support upgrades, which will allow the companies to provide a variety of services with your smart product over the course of time. Many machines that look exactly the same may offer different services. The value of a smart product will now be in the software rather than the shell itself.
4) These products will be designed to make your life better
Any successful IoT product will do at least one of three things that add value beyond making a piece of toast or a cup of coffee. An IoT product will aim to save time, money, and add control in a user’s life. That sounds more like a service than a product, doesn’t it? As technology moves forward, many of these devices will be able to observe a customer’s habits and provide solutions to make their lives easier based on how the machine assesses the customer’s productivity or decision-making.
Just like SAAS changed the world of enterprise software, IoT will change how we interact with products. Products will add more value to our lives, and they will provide a service, a proactive service like we have never experienced from our products before. Behind this product is a company aiming to serve its customers for the entirety of the relationship. After you purchase a product, you will no longer be on your own. Chalk up a point for IoT.