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IT trends for 2016: Why IoT devices have a way to go

While technologies like the Internet of Things are beginning to make their mark, they are still in the 'formative stages,' says an expert.

In part two of our podcast on IT trends for 2016, expert Brent Leary of CRM Essentials outlined additional CRM themes for 2016 he expects to be center stage. Omnichannel customer experience, personalized marketing and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all complex and still emerging, he said. Many companies haven't effectively connected customer experiences to these strategies and technologies, he added.

Omnichannel customer experience. Leary said customers may not be familiar with the term omnichannel -- which refers to the ability to create seamless experience for customers across a variety of communication channels, from the phone to email to live chat and social media platforms -- but they do know when companies haven't achieved it. Leary said that, often, companies are so consumed by accumulating data that they don't know how to create a better customer experience based on that data.

"It's not just about getting the nuggets, but about leveraging that insight for some kind of action, some kind of experience," Leary said. As a result, he noted, companies are often going through the motions on collecting customer data without a clear mission. "If you don't create the right experience, you might as well not have done the hard work of getting the insight to begin with."

Personalized marketing. Leary said that most companies are too overwhelmed by the technology and the mission of personalized sales and marketing to achieve their goals successfully. "Companies need to start small with this stuff," he said. While Leary cited Amazon as an example of a company that has made it easy for customers to search, buy and get purchases delivered to them, it's because Amazon is laser-focused on these three goals. "If companies can understand the basics of what customers want -- the very basic things -- and start delivering on that and then start building on top of that," he said.

The Internet of Things. Leary noted that many companies have invested in technology without understanding how to deliver the right experiences to customers with that technology. He said that despite the fact that companies are connecting various devices -- cars, oil drums, home security systems -- these devices aren't "connected to the point where the experiences that need to be created are going to be mapped back directly to these devices."

At Dreamforce 2015, Leary talked with Adam Bosworth, executive vice president of the Salesforce IoT Cloud, who noted, "Everyone is focusing on IoT and connected devices. But you can be a connected company and still not be customer-centric." Bosworth's wife has a connected car, "so the expectation is that if you have a connected car and engine light comes on, you expect the company would know immediately and then a series of events would take place," Leary said. But instead, she didn't have a connected customer experience. "She had to call, got put on hold, repeat her information a couple of times. What good is having a connected car if it's not connected to an experience that should make things better for the customer when things happen?" Leary noted.

"Companies often take a Hail-Mary approach to buying technology," Leary said. "Companies are willing to spend a lot of money on technology but not on understanding the basic needs of what customers want. It creates a mismatch."

Leary concluded that using the data effectively is still in the distance. "We're in the very formative stages of the Internet of Things. People are trying to figure out how to capture all this data, analyze all this data and what to do with it. By the end of 2016, we may have a better understanding of where things are going."

For more on IT trends for 2016, check out the podcast above. And for part one, click here.

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