Customer relationship management (CRM) is here to stay and is at the heart of companies' digital initiatives for years to come, Gartner said in a report that came out in 2014. The hot topic in CRM across multiple leading industries, including healthcare, is the Internet of Things (IoT) as it joins cloud, social, mobile and big data as the fifth driver of CRM investments.
According to Gartner, there will be 4.9 billion connected things in use by the end of 2015; by 2020 that number will grow to 25 billion. From wearable fitness trackers to smart thermostats, the Internet of Things presents connectivity potential to a vast number of devices across a range of industries, including retail, healthcare, insurance, financial services, and many others. And where the fast adoption of smart phones and tablets had companies worrying about how to handle the data boom, the arguably faster adoption rate of IoT-enabled devices has some companies "downright scrambling," Gartner analyst Frank Buytendijk said.
Organizations are leveraging CRM technologies as a major part of their digital initiatives to enhance the customer experience, according to the Gartner report. Demand for modern technology supporting customer relationships is driving refreshed or expanded integration and usage of all areas of CRM software.
About a month ago, Salesforce.com announced its new IoT Cloud product that will be piloted with select customers in early 2016 for a full-scale rollout at the end of next year. "It's hard to see how any industry isn't going to have its customer experience affected by applications, by website interactions, by device interactions,” says Adam Gross of Saleforce’s cloud unit.
This new technology allows the collection and storage of data about people, and it helps drive future communications and strategic approaches to reaching that prospect or customer in an intelligent way. Now more than ever, there is a growing openness by consumers to the idea of sharing and receiving personal information via the cloud.
Imagine CRM technology that is able to connect phones, devices, and wearables to websites and running applications so that we have greater context for transactional data. This translates into anticipating a person’s propensity to take the next action – whether that’s adherence, purchase, follow-up, exploration/education, etc. and creating rules and marketing that help engage with a person on a deeper, more informed level.
What does that mean for healthcare organizations that are working on establishing deep, data driven relationships with patients and caregivers? The healthcare and medical device industries are key verticals that stand to benefit tremendously from the IoT. Even today, a number of medical device companies are developing greater connectivity in order to improve communications between health care providers and patients while also providing real-time monitoring of patient health through bedside diagnostics.
Driving the IoT to its full potential in improving the customer experience will involve a change in our organizations (procedural, technical and cultural) and how we plan our initiatives strategically. Here are some nuggets from Oracle Vice President of Product Management Peter Utzschneider to think about as we embark on folding the IoT into our plans:
1. Think Long Term
The IoT is just in its early days, and is here to stay. So for marketing leaders, we need to be open to significant and permanent shifts regarding how we work in an integrated fashion with technology and analytics partners – whether within our own organizations or third parties.
2. Data is Going to be Bigger
“To get the value of IoT, you’re going to have to deal with a ton of data,” Utzschneider says. We are already processing a lot of high value data, but the IoT will cause a very high velocity of low value data that we’ll need to sift through to find meaning. “Little tiny bits of information coming in a constant tsunami that need to be processed and contextualized on the fly in order to glean value,” he says.
3. Integrate, Don’t Isolate
The integration of IoT data can improve the effectiveness of existing efforts such as CRM. Therefore, although these initiatives may be new for an organization, and the data may look different, integration will result in the enhancement of our customer’s overall experience, and the applications can continue to extend beyond the first strategy.
This is an exciting time! Healthcare is cited as one of the top industries likely to create impact in this new world of sensors and data – the question is how quickly can we adapt to the change the IoT will drive? This initiative requires an investment in data gathering technologies and analytics, and an understanding that yes, while we will gain efficiencies in some areas, there will be complexities born from new types of customer needs, and opportunities to dream about the expansion beyond where we are today.