Unless you are completely out of touch with what is happening around you, it would be difficult for you to escape the new buzz word in the technology world called “Internet of Things (IoT)“. According to Oxford Dictionary, the meaning of “Internet of Things” is “The interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.”
Does it sound All Greek to you? Be
lieve me even in recent past, people wouldn’t have heard about IoT but now many pundits believe that the Internet of Things will bring another Industrial Revolution and will possibly supersede technological advances like steam engine, electricity and printing press.
So what is this Internet of Things?
According to IEEE, IoT is network of items/things, embedded with sensors, which are connected to the Internet. IoT will enable sharing of data between connected objects, animals, human, devices, locations using Internet. This seamless data exchange over Internet will change how we do business today.
According to Cisco estimates, there are 18 billion connected things in 2015, up by about 30% from 2014 and this will reach 55 billion by 2020.
Gartner predicts the number of connected devices will be over 26 Billion by 2020 and some even go further to predict the number to be 200 Billion. Irrespective of the exact number, it is clear that more and more devices will be connected in near future and a conservative estimate would be about 20-35 billion by 2020.
The rise of smartphones in recent years in combination of cloud applications paved the way for the rise of Internet of Things. Major Industry players like AMD, ARM, Cisco and Intel are investing in IoT to make sensors, chips or tags for a wide range of devices, systems and infrastructure. Microsoft has announced Windows 10 and Azure IoT Suits which will enabled developers to create many IoT solutions.
Where does CRM come in?
CRM records interactions and interactions traditionally have been through Phone Calls, Emails, Tasks, Appointments, Letters, Faxes etc. Advent of Social Media pushed these traditional boundaries and Sales, Marketing or Service management were forced to interact with customers via social channels like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc. Interactions have been central to any CRM and intelligence were derived from these interactions with CRM to drive sales, customer satisfaction etc.
IoT changes this landscape further as connected devices starts interacting with each other on behalf of someone. Traditional interactions between “Account” and/or “Contact” will pushed further as “things” like Credit Card, Mobile Phone, Loyalty Card, Vehicles managed within CRM will begin to interact without human intervention and all such devices will be exchanging information to make our life easier!
All these connected IoT devices will collect terabytes of data and analysis of this data will provide CRM the means to predict customer behaviour, tailor marketing messages or predict a service need.
Gartner has named Internet of Things as the fifth driver for CRM behind social, mobile, big data and the cloud. Internet of things will create Internet of Opportunities for CRM.
What does the future look like with CRM and IoT?
Internet of Things will revolutionise how predictive analytics is done. CRM powered by Internet of Things will begin to change prices of commodities for customers based on their purchasing and loyalty history, marketing messages will be adjusted real-time based on customer preferences collected from various devices, service centres will be able to predict when your car will fail and hence place a service call prior to that. Here are couple of usage of IoT in the CRM world.
Real-time exchange of Sales data
One of the major benefit would be collection of real time sales data. When a CRM system will be powered by real time data on how, when, where Products are sold and used by virtue of these products being connected; CRM will be able to better predict the sales cycle, sales concentration and will assist tailor the marketing message specific to clients. These smart devices able to communicate without human intervention will allow organisations to make intelligent sales and marketing decisions.
CRM an Analytics Engine
IoT will collect and organise terabytes of data about customers, products, sales and this data analysis will make CRM to generate predictable and actionable results.
Proactive Customer Service
Connected IoT devices will know their health status and this self-diagnosis result fed back to CRM will enable CRM to provide predictive and proactive service back to customer.
Internet of Things (IoT) is not theory any more, it’s happening around us. It is coming fast towards us. A Gartner prediction was in year 2014 the impact of connected devices added $1.9 trillion to the global economy. Cisco predicts the global IoT market will be $14.4 Trillion by 2022.
Connected devices will make things “smarter”, “easier” and “efficient”. CRM software like Dynamics CRM will get immensely benefited by IoT and will help organisations to “work smarter”.
 IEEE, “Internet of Things” 2014
 Press Release from Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014, in Barcelona, November 9-13.
 Gartner Press Release February 12, 2014 http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2665215