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Transform IoT customer experiences through API management

As technology continues to transform the customer experience and customer expectations consistently rise, enterprises must take necessary steps to differentiate their products and services to deliver on these expectations. In the age of the digital customer, enterprises are constantly moving from the web to mobile apps to a post-apps arena — and fast.

In this article I’ll focus on the post-app experience, which includes a variety of connected devices — IoT, virtual and augmented reality and voice-first assistants (such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod among others).

The use of IoT devices across industries, such as healthcare and retail markets, is exploding for both consumers and for industries themselves. With this, organizations implementing IoT into their business strategy need to consider how various channels work together to deliver a superior customer experience customized for the individual — an omnichannel approach with disjointed experiences does not meet the expectation of the modern customer.

To deliver exceptional customer experiences across new and emerging connected devices such as IoT and voice-first assistants, enterprises need to be able to collect, analyze and organize data in a timely and secure manner. Additionally, the overwhelming need to be flexible is increasingly apparent as more and more IoT devices enter the scene. The best way to do this is through a two-part solution to deliver a superior customer experience. First, by building well-designed application programming interface (APIs) that focuses on how the end user consumes the service, as opposed to the technical underpinnings of the IoT device. Second, is by forming a proper data orchestration driven by APIs from multiple providers. These API solutions for IoT help breakdown connectivity barriers, anticipate user needs and deliver a highly customized experience — and the benefits of APIs have a great effect on the customer’s overall experience.

In fact, the benefits of APIs in IoT technology cannot be understated. Here are three of the top benefits of API management when it comes to enhancing a customer’s IoT experience:

  • Security — In my previous article I wrote about IoT security processes and the steps that businesses can take to better protect connected devices and customer data from attacks and breaches. That being said, in conjunction with these security practices, APIs can also enable devices to register securely, authorize or disconnect a compromised device via an API key control and enforce corporate security policies.
    • Enforcing multifactor authentication with external identity provider systems via standardized APIs
    • Rate limiting to prevent traffic spikes and service degradation that can be caused by malicious actors
  • Device abstraction — IoT devices are constantly undergoing rapid change and along with this, the low-level interfaces to the device change too. With APIs, we can abstract this complexity and also use versioning to manage the changes in an effective and timely manner.
    • A well-developed API for an IoT device can hide smaller differences between versions of the device firmware and control and provide a uniform interface to the developer to simplify service development and user experience
  • API analytics — Being able to analyze data pulled from various IoT devices can help organizations better understand consumer behavior and improve the customer experience. By harnessing API analytics, organizations can gain insights into how their customers are actually using their devices and alter their digital strategy based on those findings. For example, a Fitbit API or Apple Watch API can enable a health insurance company to offer customers incentives or rewards for exercising regularly.

In a world where customer experience is increasingly the differentiator for businesses’ success and where new IoT devices are popping up all over the place, thoughtfully creating and managing API-enabled services has never been more important. Businesses are under intense pressure to quickly roll out differentiating services and strengthen their IoT devices. They must focus on delivering a superior customer experience, which requires automating and anticipating changes across various networks and devices. For example, with the use of IoT-enabled sensors combined with data analytics, companies can assess current performance and predict future behavior of industrial equipment. API analytics can look at real-time issues and, for example, shut down equipment that is out of specs, schedule maintenance, ensure required replacement parts are available and schedule a service technical with appropriate priority. This can reduce unscheduled downtimes, prevent expensive breakdown and lower costs by providing maintenance based on usage.

All of this requires information to be securely gathered, integrated and orchestrated across an ecosystem. A unified full lifecycle API management solution for IoT allows businesses to deliver competitive services and the benefits of greater security, effective version control and API data analytics. With API management for IoT, business can react quickly, anticipate the customer needs and deliver a superior user experience.

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