IoT in customer service – turning concept into practical reality

The Internet of Things (IOT) continues to show strong global growth.

According to Verified Market Research, the Global IoT market size was valued at US$ 826.25 Million in 2019 and is projected to reach US$ 3,281.55 Million by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 19.98% from 2020 to 2027.  Across the contact centre and customer space, however, despite the undoubted potential of IoT, some significant challenges remain. 

Many predicted dynamic growth for IoT in this sector but so far this has largely not been fulfilled. Growth has been patchy. While many IoT projects have got off the ground in customer service operations involving contact centres, they tend to be specialist and high-end rather than routine business tasks. For example, we have seen applications involving helpdesks put in place in complex areas like aircraft engine operations; cruise ship management and oil pipeline maintenance but very little that relates to ’normal’  customer service operations.

Typically, the technological capability is in place but often the business processes needed to support it have not been sufficiently developed to turn the concept into practical reality. 

One area that might have expected to see stronger growth in IoT but which has so far failed to take flight is to support facilities management (FM) helpdesks. Organisations running facilities typically have access to many different automated systems, from heating to air conditioning units. These have the potential to be connected and transmitting information about their operational status but that is largely not happening at the moment, which may, of course, be due to lower perceived value.

Why is IoT not gaining stronger traction

Often, businesses get excited about the technology and the potential for IoT as a driver of customer service excellence. Yet, when it comes to the practicalities of a commercial implementation, IoT often gets put on the backburner. Sometimes it is seen as too expensive. On other occasions, it is just one element of a much larger technology project. Businesses often get distracted by external events in the interim and IoT gets forgotten about. Organisations tend to focus initially on the core point solutions and neglect issues around the longer-term more strategic approach that IoT can help support.

Why having a route map for the future matters

In this context, what is needed above all is an approach to the practical application of IoT. One  approach that works well in this context is known as SPRO. This is a four stage approach which leads you through a logical approach to implementing a new technology. It focuses on the following areas: strategy, processes, resources and organisation. This approach focuses initially on clearly defining what the key objectives are. It is about working out what you are trying to do first before you do anything. That’s the strategy element.  

Organisations next need to consider processes. What processes do they need to put in place to help achieve the outcome that they are looking for? Next, they should look at resources and evaluate what resources are required to drive the processes to achieve the strategy. These resources should include people and technology.  The final piece of the jigsaw is organisation. How can you manage both people and technology in order to get the best results?

If organisations follow this approach they would have a much better chance of success with their IoT technology roll-out than if they do not.  Indeed, this approach works well with all technologies not just IoT.

The future for the technology in customer service is starting to look brighter. There are a growing list of potential use cases from healthcare to automotive and facilities management to oil and gas. In light of this, the step-by-step approach outlined above, together with a more process-driven strategy rather than a technology-first one, can offer a positive route forward.  


About the Author

 Alex Black is chief technology officer at Enghouse Interactive. Enghouse Interactive delivers technology and expertise to maximize the value of every customer interaction, with products spanning multi-channel call centers, CTI integration, IVR / Self-Service, operator attendant consoles, call recording and quality monitoring, outbound predictive dialer, knowledge management solutions and more.

Featured image: ©LightFieldStudios

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