The critical customer considerations all Internet of Things projects should include

An analyst with Altimeter discusses the role of “journey-mapping” in making sure smart devices don’t act a little too . . . smart

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The Internet of Things-enabled world of beacons and sensors is proving to be a double-edged sword for companies. Deployed thoughtfully, smart devices can provide value and convenience for users and consumers, while inspiring loyalty to the associated companies or brands.

Smart technology – such as Trackdot, which monitors luggage along its route and texts the traveller when it arrives on the baggage carousel – is a big hit with the efficiency crowd. Enhancing customer service is the top benefit companies cite for adopting IoT, but those that have launched projects also report positive returns on their investments.

A recent report from IDC Canada predicts that spending on Internet of Things projects will more than double in the next few years – from almost $3 billion in 2013 to $6.5 billion in 2018, with companies in the manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, insurance and consumer sectors topping the list of big spenders.

In a rush to deploy the next, cool, connected thing to customers, companies are bound to fumble. That’s because many will miss the critical step of journey-mapping, a process that looks at the impact a new technology or experience will have from the customer’s perspective.

Jessica Groopman, an industry analyst with Altimeter, recently had a creepy encounter with her Smart TV – and she used it as a cautionary tale of “what not to do” when deploying IoT projects for those tuned into a recent Webinar.

“I was shocked when an ad appeared on the screen listing all the TV shows I had watched for the last three months,” Groopman said. “I had been opted in over default, but had no idea.”

Network admins on the strategy team for IoT projects can help their companies steer clear of such faux pas by getting into a customer state of mind.

We heart customers: Data stores figure prominently in IoT projects, so IT pros should focus on security risks and understanding how consumers will interface with the technology, said Groopman.

“Think about the sensors we’re using to collect the data, whether it’s proprietary or leveraged. Who owns the data and who has access to your network via proxy connections?”

The “why” matters: The technology around IoT may be alluring, but Mike Olson of Cloudera says companies should be thinking more about why it matters.

“What are the business problems you want to solve, what are the optimizations you want to make? Then design your systems to address these problems.”

Everyone together: IoT initiatives may start in one business area, but they will eventually touch every department. The most compelling, scalable and ultimately successful projects will involve as many business units as possible, said Groopman.

“Content is the atomic particle that flows through everything, so you need shared access to content management systems and everyone on the same page.”

Privacy, please: Don’t risk your company’s reputation and its investment by under-thinking the privacy implications of digital engagement. Groopman suggested defaulting to privacy, something that’s not generally happening today.

“If brands are asking customers to adapt to digital engagement techniques, they too have to adapt how they convey the purpose, security and value of such techniques.”

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