By Rachel Lane, Director Voice of the Customer Analytics EMEA

In the last year alone, some 4 billion mobile devices have come online, according to Cisco. Intel predicts that number could reach as high as 200 billion in less than five years, and by 2020 there will be roughly 26 smart objects per human. Anyone who thinks that the Internet of Things (IoT) isn't going to touch their lives, think again!

The first challenge when planning an IoT strategy is understanding what it is and what it isn’t. The digital world is converging with the physical world, and this emerging practice, known as the Internet of Things, represents the next era of customer analytics. It is one in which just about anything can be connected, through sensors and data, to other objects, environments, people, and of course, the Internet.

As a general description it is fair to describe IoT as "The interconnection and interaction of the digital and physical worlds, wherein uniquely identifiable embedded technology connects and integrates physical ‘things’ to information networks via existing and emerging Internet infrastructure”.
IoT is a platform for connecting people, objects, and environments to serve, inform and enable visibility, engagement, and innovation.

So, what does this mean to customer engagement? We can look at it in many ways as it has many forms of life but for me the key value is in enriching experiences and personalising engagements.
Let’s consider a couple of use cases to illustrate the possibilities.

Many of us already have a wearable fitness tracker to monitor our exercise but the real value could come when biometric sensor data in the tracker can connect to a post-surgical recovery plan, communicate healing progress back to the surgeon in real time, showing how the patient’s progress compares to other patients’, helping the surgeon to suggest more effective ways to expedite healing and mobility and avoid increases in long term medical insurance premiums. Here, the connection between data, things, and the Internet can transform the experience for both the patient and save money for the health service, both in the short and long term. When I think of this example I immediately think how the insurance industry will benefit from IoT, we already see ADAS devices monitoring driver behaviour to get a lower premium but this is clearly the tip of the iceberg.

With IoT we will finally be able to understand the offline customer journey from so many devices trivial to life saving but nevertheless important to making our life a little easier or day I say it happier. Wouldn't it be useful to send a notification to a customer that it's Thursday and according to her calendar she is at home this weekend but she has no fresh fruit and vegetables in her fridge, her usual selection has been added to her online shopping basket, she just needs to click to check and confirm her order.

Of course the challenge is the unprecedented amount of consumer data that this is going to create.
Our customers are already awash with silo’ d data so how do we help them make sense of the valuable data from all the noise? That’s the million dollar question, and in order to prepare organisations we have to work out what their nirvana is and then work backwards just as we do with ecosystem planning with an ultimate goal of engagement analytics.

Of course IoT won’t come alone, it will expedite the next era of the contact centre in which call volume will drop but AHT will sky rocket as calls become more complex with the day to day IoT taking care of pro-active customer support.

For organisations it will not only drive a need for complex analytics solutions but will drive the desire for complimentary solutions such as case management, knowledge management and indeed Gamification.