We have many “things” embedded in our daily lives and if any of them fail, life becomes extremely difficult. A few months back, a friend mentioned an instance when his Internet was down, due to a router issue. This happened on the first day with a new service provider. After a long call with customer support, the issue was still not resolved. A support representative finally informed that him that a support engineer would make an onsite visit in a few days to fix the issue. This impacted his entire family, and the next day he switched the service provider though it meant losing money in the process. He might have been a life-time customer if the issue was taken care of quickly. It’s possible that the fix involved a simple router configuration. With the service provider’s current set-up, this fix involved the time and effort of a call center representative, a dispatch and a support engineer. It also would have involved the cost of transportation for the support engineer, equipment and, of course, the inconvenience and time of the customer.
We are moving toward an “instant” world. Customers expect issues to be fixed immediately and do not want to wait for days for support engineer to fix issues onsite. It’s even better if problems are resolved without their involvement.
But devices/things can fail anytime. How can issues be resolved in few minutes when devices are spread across geographies and hundreds or thousands of miles from customer support center? The Internet of Things (IoT) can make distance irrelevant and will possibly enable us to reach that magical “Zero” downtime scenario.
IoT allows devices to be connected, monitored and investigated remotely by connecting devices to a central IoT server. (Whether all devices can be connected and monitored and the challenges involved is a discussion for another time.) Major IoT use cases that help transform customer support and experience are:
- Monitoring and analyzing the data from all the connected devices. IoT can provide a view of device status and performance in real time.
- Providing remote access to engineers so they can debug device issues in real time.
- Allowing updates and patches to be pushed remotely.
- Alerting support engineers of potential issues so they address them before they happen.
I’d like to highlight a business case for a leading medical device manufacturer. The objective of the project was to create an IoT platform to address post launch issues and product (firmware) improvements. In the existing scenario, when an issue was identified in the field, affected devices would need to be recalled or arrangements would have to be made for exchange. This painful and expensive process hit quarterly results. The manufacturer asked Wipro Digital to implement an IoT solution focused on remote update of the firmware. Wipro worked with the manufacturer to jointly create an effective solution that would enable the company to easily handle the recall situation by remotely updating the patch, providing paid differentiated services and regularly updating firmware – sometimes even adding improved diagnosis algorithms. This radical reduction of costs and increase in efficiency and reliability of devices helped the company increase customer loyalty, stay ahead of its competition and improve sales.
Normally, manufacturers find themselves in reactive situations where resolution begins after the problem occurs. How about fixing the issue even before an issue arises without the customer’s notice? This is where IoT can exceed customer expectations.
These examples can be applied to numerous industry verticals: automobiles, home appliances, medical devices, aircrafts, industrial automation and many more both in B2B and B2C segments. Imagine the confidence of driving a connected car. This will bring in numerous opportunities for car manufacturers and dealers.
Many companies are already working on revamping the customer experience by implementing IoT solutions. At Wipro Digital, we’ve been working with businesses in the Health Care Services, Storage, Telecom, Insurance, Construction Machinery, Equipment and other sectors to build effective and long term IoT solutions. Recently, we helped a leading global storage device company implement an IoT solution for remote support. This program helped the customer support team to better manage devices and reduced the downtime increasing customer satisfaction and sales. We’re also currently working with a global medical device company to build an IoT solution to improve the customer experience of health care devices.
IoT is the latest game changer in the IT industry after mobile and social. It will change entire buy and sell channels across industries. This brings in huge number of opportunities for many players in the overall support ecosystem: sellers, re-sellers and service providers.
It’s obvious that implementing an IoT solution has its own challenges and requires some good initial investment. However in the long run, this reduces the support effort, improves customer loyalty and increases sales. Investments break even in couple of years. Companies that want to stay ahead in the competition should consider IoT a sure bet.