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IoT's next role: Supporting the tech-powered personalization of customer experience

A computer more powerful than the one that helped send men to the moon resides inside many of our pockets or handbags. Smartphones are firmly an important and commonplace tool at the center of connecting a growing ecosystem of IoT-linked devices. They can host and analyze data streaming virtually every appliance, tracker and hardware with “smart” attached to its name. Smartphones also keep intensive records of information people generate through applications and other interactions. Most importantly, they can be used to contextualize the human experience and personalize complex business data streams from even more complex systems connecting to IoT. The end goal every data-reliant business should strive for: deploying IoT technology that navigates across the front and back offices using a cloud platform and complementary application ecosystem.

After all, IoT is not just an expert technology anymore. There’s more access to the right tools than ever before, and enterprise IoT platforms democratize access to it for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The constant data streams and connections between machines and people offer these small business owners and entrepreneurs opportunities to transform every employee, customer, supplier and partner into an active contributor to their business processes. However, many organizations still need an infrastructure that can move massive amounts of digital information and make sense of it for business operations. A mass enterprise migration to the cloud, the proliferation of AI and machine learning technology, and the democratization of complementary technologies can help companies of all sizes to use data accessible on connected devices to achieve competitive edges.

Connecting IoT to the cloud offers efficiency and expediency

Cloud-based software solutions can significantly cut costs, offer more flexibility and improve workflows across organizations of all sizes utilizing IoT. They can also offer small businesses and entrepreneurs reliable methods to access, monitor, receive and input data from virtually anywhere. Data streaming from IoT and the smartphone in your pocket can meet in the cloud, thus enabling new levels of access, transparency and security.

An important side effect of using the cloud to move IoT-linked data: better customer service and attention. Businesses can use the cloud to conduct almost every business operation that involves information exchange and analysis — from customer relationship management to payroll to accounting. They can also pull mission-critical data from IoT-linked devices and hardware in the field sending data through the cloud to employees and customers to inform current levels of service and future business transactions.

IoT-friendly automation actually enhances jobs

While there’s real concern that artificial intelligence will make jobs obsolete in the near future, AI can actually help businesses — especially startups and SMBs — free up valuable time spent on tedious administrative tasks. Customer service is a key area where AI technology is being deployed more frequently. Chatbots, automated conversational tools built upon artificial intelligence infrastructure, complement software-driven aspects of business operations vital to keeping customers happy and building businesses.

In practice, chatbots enable companies to respond quicker to customer feedback and resolve issues, while also storing detailed conversation logs for business owners to review later. Data collected and stored by AI-powered chatbots can help inform future decisions crucial to your business. Digitizing information at the point-of-capture eliminates the need to file receipts and expenses, eradicates the need for tedious human-driven data entry and replaces data collection with a much easier process. Automating these aspects of work also allows employees to more efficiently spend their time managing projects, monitoring IoT- and cloud-based operations and supporting customer relationships. Ultimately, IoT combined with AI makes these experiences smart and turns an IoT endpoint into an “intelligent” endpoint that businesses can pull data from that informs customer interactions.

Seamless data integration leads to seamless business operations

Businesses that deploy IoT and connected devices should also look to employ platforms that feature open architecture enabling integration with other technologies critical to daily operations. When all of the operational systems can interact with each other, the amount of actionable data flowing into the network from IoT-linked sources increases significantly. By implementing solutions that will allow you to better understand and communicate with those individuals critical to your business, businesses can realize the power of personalization using IoT, automation and smartphone technology. In doing so, businesses increase meaningful touch points with key stakeholders that can make or break businesses. Deploying a network of platforms, technology and tools that can generate, analyze and receive data directly supports — and enhances — customer relationships. Businesses that embrace change understand the immense value of contextual data and know that linking their systems between the web, IoT and the cloud will help them succeed.

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