I recently read an an article focused on how connected things will change the customer experience in future. The article suggested that by 2022 the average home will have over 500 connected ‘things’ inside, all with the ability to interact, report their status, and take instructions. Only a few years ago this would have sounded outrageous – 500 electronic devices in each normal home?

Imagine the scale –  every electronic thing could be connected, light switches, light bulbs, power sockets, electric doors and windows, fridges, radios, TVs, in addition to phones, tablets, and computers. Everything will be interconnected.

How does this change life for the customer or user of these products? It starts creating a level of interaction directly between the user and the products that avoids the need for the customer to reach out for help. Take your car for example. If one system stops functioning how you might expect, let’s say the air-conditioning, then what would you normally do? Perhaps check the manual, check Google, ask a friend with a similar car, then eventually drive to the dealer and ask what is going on.

If the car is connected then you could just ask the car what is wrong. Why is the air conditioning stuck in that mode, is there a problem? Then the car can access the knowledge base of the manufacturer and reply. Simple.

This is not just a sci-fi fantasy either. Most new cars are already connected. Most new TVs connect immediately to your wi-fi. All we need to do is to take a step beyond just pumping data to a device, like a TV, and to consider how the TV can behave if it fits more intelligently into the home environment.
Adding this level of intelligence in devices will improve the customer experience dramatically. Most devices will be able to answer questions and this automation deflects many mundane enquiries and allows a service centre to only be involved when the customer needs help on a more complex problem.
I was thinking further on this network of things and I believe there are developments we will see in the near future that build on what we can already see. For example a service like Click and Collect at physical retail stores. I am still required to go online, select items, order and pay for them then arrange the Click and Collect time.
What if I can just speak out loud in my car or home and add items to my shopping list when I think of them? Add eggs to the list. Add kitchen roll. Add a kilo of potatoes. Then tell the store that you will come to collect at 6pm today triggering the store to gather together everything on your outstanding shopping list.
It’s a simple development of what we can see now and what Amazon is trying to introduce with their Echo system, which allows you to speak and ask questions at home, like Siri on Apple phones.
I believe these ideas are just scratching the surface of what may be possible. Wearable technologies and the networking together of every electronic device will be a game changer for the customer experience. Imagine a decade from now where you might be choosing between cars based more on the ease of slotting it into your home network rather than the 0-60mph acceleration.
I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.