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How the IoT Is Making the Customer Experience a Top Priority

16 Jun 2017 by Amanda Best

Historically, the IT boss was in charge of managing the company’s technical infrastructure and those who maintain it. You wouldn’t dare catch them worrying about signage or curb appeal because they were busy handling the company’s mission critical operations. But, these days, the digital experience is the new storefront, and whether an organization can attract and retain customers on the web and mobile platforms is mission critical.

And now, business units such as IT and marketing are crossing paths — on purpose.

Why? Because customer expectations are changing. Consumers are largely engaging with their favorite brands digitally. Those brands have created exceptional user experiences, upping the ante for businesses in every industry. The data shows that most companies are becoming tech companies and this means IT directors are now key stakeholders in the customer journey. So businesses that don’t think about infrastructure optimization as it relates to digital platforms, mobility and the Internet of Things (IoT) will be left in the dust.

If you don’t care about the user interface, you should.

Let’s look at the key brands that are elevating the consumer experience, and identify how they are engaging clients.

Amazon at 94%, Google at 92%, and Ford and Hyndai at 91%.

Figure 1

According to the Brand Keys survey shown in Figure 1, the top two performing brands in 2017, in terms of customer engagement, are Amazon and Google with 94% and 92% performance rates respectively. It’s safe to say that the success of the digital strategy is critical of both the online retailer and search engine — and this priority has paid off.

Coming in third on the survey are both Ford and Hyundai performing at 91%. While they are classified as automotive companies, both have invested heavily in technology initiatives, specifically solutions related to the user interface. Ford released a statement in early 2017 about launching a simpler and smoother digital buying and financing experience. In late 2016, Hyundai announced it was the first car manufacturer to offer customers nationwide in the UK the opportunity to buy a car completely online. Both of these companies have made the leap to expand their customer engagement models past the physical car lot, and no doubt, IT carried out these business initiatives.

Other primarily digital companies that made Brand Keys’ Annual Customer Loyalty Engagement Index in 2017 are Apple, Netflix, PayPal and Facebook.

Based on the results of this index, it’s clear that investing in digital customer engagement platforms has a clear payoff.

IT experts are becoming consumer experts.

The correlation between a well-performing brand and a strong digital presence is clear — and Insight’s 2017 Intelligent Technology Index (ITI) supports this. According to this study, 49% of IT decision makers are concerned with improving the customer experience and 38% are focused on more consistent customer engagement. While keeping the lights on is still a priority for IT pros, so are the customers' needs.

Email at 83%, social media engagement at 69%, search engine optimization at 61%.

Figure 2

And it makes sense, because the most powerful customer acquisition methods in recent years have been digital. According to the late 2015 Target Marketing study shown in Figure 2, 87% of respondents reported email as the most successful customer acquisition method, 69% reported social media engagement, 68% said online advertising and 61% stated that they used search engine optimization to attract clients.

With these digital platforms generating viable business leads, it’s no wonder IT has a piece in the customer engagement pie.

Consumers want to engage anytime and anywhere.

Business-to-consumer interactions are evolving constantly. In November of 2016, Instagram announced its shop button feature. The goal was to create a more seamless e-commerce experience for followers as they browse products on their favorite businesses’ social feeds. Instagram couldn’t ignore that “more than 84% of smartphone users in the US browse, research or compare products via a web browser or mobile app.“ Yet the application’s customer interface made it difficult for followers to take the next step in the customer journey. The shop button aims to solve this issue for buyers and Instagram advertisers.

If one of the top social networking sites identified that they weren’t doing enough to create a seamless experience, is it possible that many of us have weak spots in our customer engagement model?

What Instagram keyed into was the role that mobile platforms play into marketing. Fifty percent of the respondents from Insight’s 2017 Intelligent Index reported having taken steps to integrate the IoT into their technology strategies for consumer engagement. While it used to be optional to have a website or platform that was either mobile native or friendly, it’s now becoming a business imperative.

Learn more peer insights in the ITI.

In addition to the importance of a mobile strategy and customer engagement, Insight’s report identifies the following additional topics as key for businesses and IT pros:

  • Technology Is the New Currency of Business
  • Infrastructure Challenges Straddle Today and Tomorrow
  • Cloud Migration Is the New Frontier
  • Investing Smarter Is Imperative

To learn about these trends and valuable industry benchmarking, download a complimentary copy of Insight’s 2017 Intelligent Technology Index.

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