The Internet of Customers: Google’s Nest Purchase Fuels the Revolution

Posted by
Erin Kang
LivePerson Contributor
Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - 15:10

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way we solve problems, communicate and ultimately, collect data. A popular example from last year was the FitBit. The gadget monitors our daily habits and delivers personalized data right to our personal devices. In latest headlines, Google has recently purchased Nest for $3.2 billion—the biggest IoT purchase in history, said CMSWire.

Nest, “the next generation thermostat,” monitors consumers’ temperature settings, and learns how to automatically update home temperatures according to individual schedules and preferences, and can even be controlled through a mobile device. Google’s investment shows that everyday objects, like a household thermostat, are becoming “connected” objects and present huge opportunities for innovation. These trends in home automation and innovation signals that consumers want a personalized and intelligent experience, across devices, even when it comes to household appliances.

IoT Meets the Connected Customer

Gartner experts predict that by 2020, there will be almost 26 billion objects categorized as IoT devices; ABI Research forecasts 30 billion. Underlying this new wave points is the steadfast growth and power of big data. It shows the potential value in collecting new sources of data, and using that data to continuously improve and optimize consumer experiences-- through personalization, intelligence, and responsiveness. The Guardian recently emphasized: “…smart future businesses will use data in a way that foresees their consumer's expectations and meets them, using their newly found data to make the world a better place.”

We agree. The “Internet of Things” is quickly becoming the “Internet of the Customer” in three ways. Consumers can 1.) personalize results, 2.) customize the experience, and 3.) access information and impact results quickly, via mobile, at anytime.

  1. More customers are putting personalization first. As more and more connected gadgets meet the market, many express concern about privacy or data security. But, Google’s $3.2 billion testament to the technology leads us to believe that they aren’t concerned with this commercial limitation. And, if customers are open to an open exchange of data, they will likely trade personal data for personalized services, “making an active, educated decision to exchange that data for something they determined to be of greater value,” said Destination CRM Blog.
  2. Intelligent tech puts customers in control. Nest creates custom experiences that adapt to a customer’s  behavior, rather than a customer having to adhere to an arbitrary, fixed temperature. We’re seeing more and more intelligent technology all around us-- look at washing machines-- no longer does a customer have to choose between a “hot” and “cold” setting, but can create a customized washing program to fit his or her particular needs at that moment. Intelligent technology done right puts the customer first, and empowers customers to be in control of their experience.
  3. Customers want “everywhere” connection. Nest customers can log into their account via mobile, and update their thermostat settings wherever they are. We’re seeing more and more services that are remotely enabled and accessible, offering customers the ultimate convenience and flexibility. The fact that we’re seeing growing innovation in the mobile space ensures that these hand-held devices will become the number one preferred device to connect with brands, to communicate, make payments, and to do just about anything.

Great Customer Service Takes on New Meaning

The acquisition of Nest indicates bigger things to come, and the possibilities of smart, connected technology + everyday objects are endless. The impact on behavior and the market will be powerful and consumers in turn will increasingly demand the “me” experience. We crave convenience and personalization in the products we buy, and the services we rely on—whether it is with our local coffee shop knowing how we take our morning cup, a browser that knows my language preferences, or with a simple home device knowing we prefer to wake up to a warm home. That familiarity, and almost human touch, is enabled with the latest in intelligent, connected technology.

What does it all mean for digital marketers and customer service teams? We expect the customer service experience to change in tandem with the IoT, and IoC. Leading brands will need to keep up with market trends and evolving consumer demands by delivering intelligent, personalized experiences in imaginative ways, wherever a consumer is connecting-- whether it’s via mobile devices, a thermostat, and maybe tomorrow, it might be on a refrigerator, or perhaps an electric toothbrush. Brands need to determine how to create and strengthen relationships with their customers amidst this exciting and expanding landscape of innovative, intelligent technologies and services.

How do you think the IoT will impact customer service or marketing teams? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

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