Creating an Enterprise Architecture to Engage with “Things”
Rethink your notion of what is a customer.
Contributor: Christy Pettey
The density and value of interactions between people, businesses and things is accelerating at a rate never seen before – this is the economics of connections. A key concept of the economics of connections is the idea of economic agents that situationally change the nature of their roles, work and compensation.
“Economic agents are more than just people and businesses — imagine an economic agent in the role of a customer that is actually an Internet-connected thing,” said Don Scheibenreif, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “Whether it’s a refrigerator ordering a replacement water filter, a car scheduling a service appointment or an industrial machine requesting maintenance, the idea is that as the number and capability of Internet-connected things increases, they will develop the capacity to buy, sell, and negotiate for products and services, with organizations having to adapt to this new reality.”
As things become customers in this way, enterprise architects must rethink the notion of what a customer is and help radically reshape their organization’s customer service, marketing and sales capabilities accordingly.
Enterprise architects will need to guide their enterprises to develop capabilities for responding to significantly larger numbers of support requests communicated directly by things.
The sheer volume and velocity of repair, refill and maintenance requests coming in from everything from connected vehicle engines to connected prostheses, vending machines, vacuum cleaners, security cameras, parking meters and aircrafts is set to completely overwhelm the way B2B and B2C customer service organizations function today.
“As the computational intelligence of Internet-connected things increases, so will their ability to request more complex support, and the expectation that they’ll be able to receive it remotely, in real-time,” said Mr. Scheibenreif.
With “things” as the equivalent to human customers, the entire practice of marketing will need to change. Instead of appealing to emotion, marketers will need to appeal to logic and reason when marketing to things.
It’s unlikely that human marketers will be fast enough to keep up with the volume of things as customers. Instead, we are looking at a future where things market to other things, guided by algorithms and capitalizing on real-time opportunities presented by customer data.
However, as long as things are acting on behalf of humans, marketers must continue to understand human motivators. Human insight and machine insight must go hand in hand.
Enterprise architects will need to help sales organizations operate in a world where things will be, at least, a portion of their customers. By understanding the algorithms behind the purchasing decisions of things, sales organizations may be able to sell items that they would not have been able to sell to human customers.
When things are treated like human customers, traditional sales incentives models and loyalty programs will not work. Algorithms that sell can’t be motivated by a trip to Hawaii, and smart houses can’t be taken to nice dinners as a reward for loyalty. Instead enterprises will employ smart machines to sell to things and incentivize them with rewards or feedback mechanisms for closing a sale.
“As before, selling to things does not negate the need for human purchase motivators in a B2B environment. After all, if you don’t understand the business requirements of the humans ultimately responsible for the purchases, you won’t understand the right information needed for the sales process,” said Mr Scheibenreif.
Gartner clients can learn more in “Architect Your Business to Engage, Interact and Serve ‘Things’ as a New Customer Segment.” This research note is part of the Gartner Special Report “Unlock Digital Business Value Through the Economics of Connections,” which is a compilation of research note explaining how digital business leaders need to design flexible ecosystems to exploit the economics of connections.
For more visit Smarter With Gartner website.