What will the Internet of Everything mean for CRM?

27th Feb 2015

Recently, there has been lots of buzz around about the “Internet of Everything” and the impacts it will have on business and people’s life.

And all this buzz is nurtured by big corporations like Cisco, which foresees a huge potential on connections between processes, data, things and people (“The Internet of Everything is a $19 trillion global opportunity over the next decade: Private-sector firms can create as much as $14.4 trillion of value while cities, governments and other public-sector organizations can create $4.6 trillion.” - Cisco).

With this kind of data, it is impossible to ignore what is happening and how much value will be generated. But first, let’s start with a Wikipedia definition of “Internet of Things” or “where all this stuff began”:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.

However, this is only part of the story because, in order to exchange “Things” with “Everything”, you need to consider also:

  • People: New ways of communication have changed our habits through new devices that have introduced and enforced mobility, while social applications that have connected us with companies forcing them to change their customer strategy (social CRM) and, finally, collaborative workspaces have enabled us to create more value in our jobs.
  • Data: Big Data and related analytics have given big opportunities to detail and enrich our knowledge and understanding in every aspect of our lives and businesses.
  • Process: Digital transformation have modified business models, and process digitalisation is the main part of this revolution.

By connecting and acting on these four nodes we will start to enjoy the benefits of IoE. My personal point of view about the IoE building blocks can be summarised by the following image:

Even if the level of adoption of connected devices is still low (as pointed out by Altimeter in an interesting blog post by Jessica Groopman), companies strongly believe that this is the natural next evolution of internet application and this is verified by various research analyses and estimates (one for all, the Business Insider Intelligence reportThe Internet of Everything: 2015”)

So what can we expect in the next future? A significant growth on adoption of devices and related economic profit, where the lion’s share goes on IoT.

The interesting point is that early adopters have realised that the most important benefit for their business comes from an enhanced customer service level. This is an improvement realised, probably, thanks to better relation/interaction with their customers, which allow to collect relevant information about their product/service usage and evaluation.


And looking a little bit further, we also see that companies strongly believe that this adoption will help them to better achieve their business goals, and among them we find the need to improve customer satisfaction even through an improved level of engagement.

Enlarging the perimeter from the IoT paradigm to the IoE paradigm, the main benefit for business will be an increased and optimised operational efficiency (which means to revolutionise internal processes). But the importance of customer service is another area strongly affected by adoption as well. 


And if we want an effective confirmation on customers service's importance, we can see that even the manufacturing sector (probably the main IoE early adopter) is already using the IoT ecosystem to better understand their product usage and consequently fulfil customer expectations.

Finally, to understand what exactly is happening on the CRM side, I suggest a look at a post by Steven Van Belleghem where he discusses about the first examples of IoE as a real-time customer service enabler. Among other things, he highlights the electric car company Tesla that sends its drivers a proactive message seven days before a problem will occur (with evident advantages in terms of drivers time saving and safety increase) and airline company KLM that has trained a special team focused on proactively solving customer problems (i.e. communicating gate changes to passengers).

The message is that customers will expect more and more from companies and the only way to fulfil their expectations is to solve problems before a critical event occurs and the customer becomes aware of it. A scenario where customer service, thanks to sensors, devices and connections, is able to endlessly monitor product/service performance and communicate mainly in outbound distributing proactive solutions.

That’s really fascinating, isn’t it?

Andrea Incalza is a social CRM and CRM blogger at http://customerking.it/

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