Woman on mobile phoneCompanies worldwide are narrowing their focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) – not because of the hype, but because it’s driving phenomenal growth opportunities.

The world of products is becoming a whole new universe of services thanks to wireless sensors and connectivity. IoT is reframing the way we do business, and is increasingly changing how consumers behave and what they expect. Think connected cars, home automation, and proximity marketing.

It’s not about “things”; IoT is about the always-on, connected-everything-everywhere customer experience.

For businesses, that’s a tall order. Yet even with some daunting challenges, IoT opens up unprecedented opportunities to continuously engage customers in real-time and build value throughout their lifetime with your products.

Connected devices and services give companies instant visibility into usage, enabling them to identify and resolve issues quickly, capture data to drive improvements, and grow revenue by offering related services and compelling purchase experiences in the moment.

4 Ways IoT is impacting customer experience

1. Highly relevant offers at the right time

While machine learning can boost the effectiveness of targeted marketing, IoT takes it to a new level. With connected products and services, businesses can track usage in real time to know how, when, and where customers use their products. It amplifies the ability to personalize offers to customer needs and interests in the moment.

A good example is connected cars. Marketers are tracking driver patterns and buying behavior to influence purchase decisions with offers delivered in context, such as when customers drive to the grocery store, work, or an event.

2. More satisfying in-store experiences

IoT connectivity is helping retailers make it easier for customers to get what they want — and increasing profitability as a result. Businesses can collect and analyze data on product performance and buying trends, but also retool their stores to drive revenue.

For instance, using in-store Bluetooth beacons, retailers can obtain visual heat maps revealing consumers’ movement around a store based on their phones’ WiFi being activated. These movement patterns help the business identify high traffic areas as the best spots to place popular products.

3. Rapid and seamless issue resolution

Connected services open up a two-way conversation between customers and the business, providing faster ways to resolve and prevent issues. With ongoing real-time visibility into IoT device behavior, companies can monitor performance, and find and fix problems as they occur, sometimes before the customer even notices.

Wireless connectivity also makes it easier to update products and software quickly and cost-effectively. As an example, automakers are using cellular networks to make “over the air” updates to their connected vehicles to comply with changing regulations for road safety.

4. More compelling choices to propel customer loyalty

As IoT evolves with more possibilities, consumer expectations and demands will evolve along with it. The real winners in connected products and services will be those companies whose technology solves more problems and meets more needs.

Consider home automation or “smart homes,” projected to be a $150 billion market by 2020. Customers can remotely control lighting, heat, security – but they already want more power. That means choices, such as using energy when it’s cheaper or having smart products recognize the ideal time to switch on. Consumers also want all their cool connected gadgets to work together seamlessly. It will no longer be about their home – it’s their IoT lifestyle.

This article is the second in a four-part IoT series on our blog.

Bottom line: IoT is transforming relationships between consumers and companies, rapidly evolving our ideas of what’s possible. As connected products and services accelerate and enrich data-driven insights for businesses, customers will not only reap the benefits but play a bigger role in how businesses evolve.

In that sense, we can expect IoT to be the ultimate win-win situation.

Read more in our IoT series:
Pt 1: Five things you need to know about the Internet of Things
Pt 3: Banking and IOT – The Internet of Things will redefine financial services
Pt 4: How the Internet of Things will change the future of marketing