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Connected Customer Experience

The Internet of Things: Product Clouds Connect Consumers

Author Bruce Burke on Jun-7-2013

An astounding 150,000 people descended on Las Vegas in January of this year to attend the International CES Show. Over 3,000 vendors rolled out their latest products for the consumer electronics marketplace.

International CES - Consumer Electronics Show

Exhibitors and attendees alike were abuzz about the rapidly evolving smarter home – a concept that calls for connecting not only your mobile device to the web, but also your TV, refrigerator, washing machine, thermostat and even your smoke detector. 

The analyst firm Parks Associates forecasts that more than 8 billion devices will be connected to the home network by the end of 2015. The breakthrough that’s driving this mass adoption – cloud computing. Cloud is quickly becoming the common platform to connect these disparate devices into an “Internet of Things.”

The Cloud - Connected Consumers

With cloud as the common foundation of the smarter home, energy use and consumption is monitored and controlled. Your thermostat adjusts to take advantage of external influences; lights, locks, appliances and home security systems can be turned on and off remotely.   

The term “Internet of Things” refers to uniquely identifiable objects (things) and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. Equipping all objects in the world with minuscule identifying devices could be transformative of daily life.  

However taking this one step further by connecting these devices to the cloud adds a new dimension in consumer’s relationships with the products they bring into their lives.

Cloud Computing - The Internet of Things

But do we just stop at the products within our homes? Or should we include other products and services that are also a part of daily life. Connected cars seemed to capture the imagination of everyone attending CES. Connected vehicles are cars that access, consume, create, enrich, direct and share digital information between businesses, people, organizations, infrastructures and other vehicles. 

Ford announced the opening of their development platform for connected cars. The AppLink API lets developers create mobile apps for iOS or Android and have them interface with Ford’s Sync voice controlled interface inside the car.

Ford Logo Black White resized 600At the same time, Audi announced that they will roll out cars with 4G LTE connectivity to deliver streaming audio, and social media feeds. Other common features include automatic crash response, voice activated navigation, spoken text messages and mobile concierge services that make restaurant reservations, order flowers or book flights.

All this while I’m driving in my car you say? Don’t worry companies like Google and Lexus are using the connected car concept to take you out of the driver’s seat … Both companies showcased their continued focus on self-driving cars that allow the passenger to involve themselves in all the information and media streaming into their car as they drive down the Internet superhighway.

With everything interconnected our lives become easier, software and machines cooperate and coordinate making our transition from home, to car, to work seamless and simpler. All these smarter products will benefit both consumers and product manufacturers with both parties knowing the status of any given product at any given time. Smarter consumers will weigh their product choices carefully to ensure they integrate and cooperate with the rest of the existing ecosystem. 

Today's Mobile and Social Consumers have rewritten the rules of engagement

In the future product clouds will be the norm, however today brands and customers seem further apart than ever. Today’s consumers are dynamic; with the acceleration of mobile technology they are no longer tied to static desktop systems. More time is spent interfacing with mobile than with any other traditional media; TV, newspapers, magazines and radio.

Today’s smarter consumers want to interface with brands from wherever they are, whenever they’re needed. Smartphones provide more communication methodologies than any other device that preceded them. Both brands and consumers can utilize high resolution cameras, GPS sensors, Near Field Communication chips, Bluetooth and a bevy of other smartphone capabilities to glean and share information.

Consumers expect a seamless experience regardless of device or location

Many brands successfully made the transition from traditional media to the Internet age, but now the requirements have changed. Some brands like Starbucks have made significant inroads in the mobile space, but many brands are unsure as to how to engage this emerging and rapidly growing consumer segment.

Today’s social mobile consumers are not easily reached through traditional media channels. Brands, OEMs, retailers and service providers are faced with the challenge of mobilizing, socializing and personalizing their companies to appeal to today’s hyper-connected consumer.

If you're interested in more information about connected consumers and product clouds please feel free to download our recently published whitepaper and watch the associated webinar.

Watch Webinar & Download Whitepaper

Topics: Consumer, social, mobile, recommendation, smarter customer engagement, brand, smartphone, cloud

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