A new frontier for CRM: The internet of things

Isn’t Customer Relationship Management technology supposed to be dead?

Apparently it’s getting a lifeline from the Internet of Things.

IOT_V1Gartner predicts “CRM will be at the heart of digital initiatives in coming years as enterprises look to create more targeted interactions in a multichannel environment.” The research firm has now added IoT as the fifth dimension of its Nexus of Forces. And, while estimates vary, we’ve all heard the numerous predictions that anywhere from 26 to 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

The bottom line is that IoT is a big paradigm shift that is not only affecting the way people interact with objects and things but also the way customers interact with brands. The advent of connected technology continues to extend people’s expectations, increasing the level of sophistication that is now required to serve the new digitally savvy customer.

All of this is driving remarkable change in the marketing and customer relationship management realm. Terms like “omnichannel” are now the common buzzwords for managing customers through the various sales and service channels (online, mobile, call center, in-store, etc.) that your brand may have.

CRM solutions are now evolving to take customer service to the next level — enabling enterprises to better understand their customers and offer proactive support by leveraging IoT data to create improved, automated customer support environments.

The New Frontier for CRM

In the IoT era, companies need to change their attitude toward how they manage their customers. Most businesses still view customer service predominantly as a cost center, and they have spent the last couple of decades moving customers to the lowest-cost channel for service. But now companies have an opportunity to use service as a way to enhance the customer experience and differentiate in a world of competitive products.

CRM_FrankThe next frontier of CRM will unleash several new opportunities for managing your customers:

  • Real time marketing promotions: The mobile channel now provides brands with the opportunity to establish location and context for their customers. The opportunity to send real-time promotions to customers has never been greater. But these promotions can no longer be generic and must consider customers’ buying history, preferences and current context. American Express has partnered with several retailers to offer real-time promotions based on a customer’s location and credit card activity.
  • On-demand pricing: Once a company has established the ability to do on-the-fly promotions, it can then use live data streams to establish the right pricing at the right time. No longer will price optimization models need to rely on static and statistical assumptions; they can instead be based on real-time behaviors and events. Pricing for products and services can now be personalized to an individual level.
  • Next-generation customer service: IoT will considerably improve the customer service experience by using IoT-related data to do predictive analysis and enable proactive support. Using customer information on status, location, functionality and preferences enables the prediction of problems. Devices also become self-aware and are now able to fix and maintain themselves.
  • In-store experiences: Creating fully immersive, omnichannel experiences requires seamless integration between online and brick-and-mortar experiences. Store associates should know what the customer is looking for when he walks into a store, what his preferences or sizes are. They should know what he takes into the fitting rooms and be able to Flat illustration of smart watch and technology functionssuggest additional items in real-time. Banks should know exactly what type of offers to present him the minute he walks through the door, with the use of iBeacon technology.


What Role Will Wearables Play?

The opportunity that IoT and wearables unleash for marketers is tremendous. IHS analysis indicates that roughly 50 million wearable devices were sold in 2014 — and more than 180 million are predicted to sell in 2018.



The article was originally published on CMSWire on May 8, 2015 and is re-posted here by permission. 

Frank Palermo

Executive Vice President - Global Digital Solutions, Virtusa. Frank Palermo brings more than 24 years of experience in technology leadership across a wide variety of technical products and platforms. Frank has a wealth of experience in leading global teams in large scale, transformational application and product development programs. In his current role at Virtusa, Frank heads the Global Technical Solutions Group which contains many of Virtusa’s specialized technical competency areas such as Business Process Management (BPM), Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence (DWBI). The group is responsible for creating an overall go-to-market strategy, developing technical competencies and standards, and delivering IP based Solutions for each of these practice areas. Frank also leads an emerging technology group that is responsible for incubating new solutions in areas such as mobile computing, social solutions and cloud computing. Frank is also responsible for overseeing all of the Partner Channels as well as Analyst Relations for the firm. Prior to joining Virtusa, Frank was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Decorwalla, an emerging B2B marketplace in the interior design industry, where he was responsible for the overall technology strategy, creative direction, and site development and deployment. Prior to that, Frank was CTO and VP of Engineering for INSCI Corporation, a supplier of digital document repositories and integrated output management products and services. Prior to INSCI, Frank worked at IBM in the Advanced Workstations Division, and took part in the PowerPC consortium with IBM, Motorola and Apple. He was also involved in the design of the PowerPC family of microprocessors as well as architecting and developing a massive distributed client/server design automation and simulation system involving thousands of high-end clustered servers. Frank received several patents for his work in the area of microprocessor design and distributed client/server computing. Frank holds a BSEE degree from Northeastern University and completed advanced studies at the University of Texas.

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