Archives for category: customer experience

The next major battlefront in technology will take place in your living room… and your dining room, kitchen, bathroom, garage…. The major players in both hardware and software – Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Amazon – are all taking position in the field, getting ready to square off. All of these big guns have already made their way into the home through gaming and entertainment, whether on console platforms or via the mobile device that never leaves your side. This has created a beachhead to give access to the whole home ecosystem, enabling them to drive deeper into the home and providing them with deeper customer insight they can deploy across their entire relationship with the consumer across every kind of device.

The major players in both hardware and software are aiming to gain access to the whole home ecosystem and deepen their relationship with the consumer across every kind of device.Let’s look at some of the recent moves the combatants have made that are changing the game of customer experience:

  • Apple announced HomeKit, a set of tools that will let users easily control home devices (heating and cooling appliances, refrigerators, lights, webcams, security systems and so on) from their iPhone or iPad.
  • Google acquired Nest’s sleek smart thermostat system, and is moving rapidly toward an integrated strategy that will extend its presence across the home ecosystem through Google Wear, Glass and Watch.
  • Samsung just announced the acquisition of home automation start-up SmartThings.
  • Amazon is buying Twitch, an online video platform and community for gamers where people discuss games or watch others as they play.

What is all this activity really about? Context. Individually, products alone provide singular features and offer value within their respective functions, whether that is a thermostat, security, time, or gaming. But combined, the way the parts work together create sources of customer value far beyond their individual use. In a way, these tech companies are trying to avoid themistakes made by the U.S. railroad industry in the mid-20th century. Railroad companies focused on their product (trains) rather than on the context that customers had for them (transportation). As a result, railroads were basically kicked to the curb as people flocked to the cars and highways that still form the main transportation arteries throughout the U.S.

To succeed, companies need the ability to create customer value in a multi-contextual world. Simply put, context is king. The ability to create more and more channels to enter the ecosystem, whether via mobile apps, home sensors, and games, creates a competitive advantage and, as a whole, a frictionless customer experience. Crucially, these services need to be designed with a holistic view, as the value of the ecosystem is both a competitive necessity and an emerging customer expectation of seamless integration. Moreover, you will see that many of these services come at a very low price point as free mobile applications allow companies to create a hub of customer value and, just as important, opportunities for ecosystem end to end value for businesses.

In this battle, there is another front opening as well in terms of whether this will evolve via open standards, such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) – with many services supporting multiple platforms – or be tightly woven to the provider’s ecosystem. Samsung has clearly opted for theopen integration model, while other players are experimenting with both approaches.

How will this affect enterprise customer experience strategies? An ecosystem of various capabilities, seamlessly linked, has the potential to break down both product focused siloes, increase customer value and create greater top line revenues than the disparate parts. Perhaps most important, it could create a competitive barrier, or at least an innovation stop-gap, to keep up with the continuously changing customer technology landscape.

The lines in the sand are taking shape!  Where do you want to be?  Most important, which side is vital for your success?

(Note: this post first appeared on TCS Enterprise Insights)

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From Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR to Apple’s acquisition of Beats, major tech companies have been making headlines this year as they buy into new technologies more closely associated with gaming and entertainment than with their core businesses. What’s the play here and what can enterprises – which can seem so far removed from consumer tech – learn from it?

The enterprise industry can learn a lot about customer engagement from from the gaming world.The answer lies with the customer. Gaming-focused tech is creating new consumer expectations that go far beyond just playing games. It is offering businesses new ways to engage with customers, learn about their needs and desires and better meet their changing demands. This customer insight, in turn, provides new business opportunities outside of the gaming sector. For example, Oculus is a wearable technology that offers a more immersive gaming experience, but it can also show Facebook what consumers look at and how, in a particular context. Beats uses sophisticated algorithms and curation to present listeners with personalized music playlists – while simultaneously gleaning insights into consumer preferences and crucially, the hundreds of millions of iTunes user credit card accounts that Apple can leverage for cross-sell and up-sell.

Clearly these technologies have broader consumer applications beyond their originally-intended purpose. But exciting possibilities lie ahead as consumer-led strategies impact the enterprise space. As consumers become more familiar and comfortable with gaming technology that tracks their every move or anticipates what they want, they are increasingly going to expect the same sort of immediacy when dealing with all kinds of businesses. For example imagine how virtual reality technology could transform the brick-and-mortar retail experience so that customers could ‘show-room’ and shop online simultaneously. When applied within the enterprise, gaming technology, alongside rapid consumer adoption, could fundamentally change go-to-market strategies, redefine customer engagement principles and open up a whole new world of data to drive customer experience for businesses.

Another recent move in the use of gaming technology went more under the radar, but is just as interesting. Microsoft announced in May that it will decouple the Kinect motion sensor technology from its Xbox One gaming console. While some analysts view this as an admission by Microsoft that consumers are not interested in paying for motion sensor technology, I see it quite differently. It’s a step towards a broad Microsoft home ecosystem, similar to what Google hopes to accomplish through its Nest acquisition, centered around technology that can understand your physical context and use that knowledge to determine what your needs are or will be. Being able to anticipate what a customer wants, before they know they want it, will be a customer engagement game-changer.

Introducing a new consumer technology always challenges companies to make the jump from “wow, that’s cool,” to “hey, this is useful.” But there’s a history of technologies developed for one purpose developing applications far beyond the original. Look at your smartphone to see many examples: an accelerometer originally intended as a gaming option has become the basis of fitness and many other apps; voice recognition that has languished in the PC world has found a home in the smartphone; and the smartphone itself is the descendant of a simpler device that, believe it or not, was once intended only as a way to make voice calls. Some innovative technologies take a while to find their destiny, while others catch on immediately. The clear lesson, however, is that a forward-looking company needs to consider each new capability to explore if and how, it can help the company meet customers on their own terms.

In future posts I will consider other ways in which consumer tech innovation, like Nest and the high-profile Google Glass, will impact the enterprise. For now, I’ll leave you with this parting thought. Gaming technology is creating a new set of customer expectations across the board – can you afford to ignore it?

(Note: this post first appeared on TCS Enterprise Insights)