Our previous post was about an opportunity in healthcare IoT that is ripe for disruption and investment dollars: elderly care. In this post, we will look at how the Internet of Things can disrupt the service industry. IoT solutions are common within enterprise service businesses so it's no surprise that the buzz has caught the attention of many in the service industry. The Internet of Things is more than just the latest buzzword. By 2020, more than 24 billion devices will be connected to the internet and more than $6 trillion will be invested in IoT solutions.

While consumer adoption will lag a bit, business and governments will be quick to adopt because it offers them the ability to provide new products and services, lower operating costs and become more efficient. This is why we think IoT in services industry can revolutionize how companies interact with their clients and consumers.

Heads-Up Displays and Augmented Reality

Augmented reality along with heads-up displays or HUDs, will change the way products are repaired. Imagine the ability to go to a customer's site and viewing a faulty device remotely using virtual reality. you can visualize what is wrong with the device without opening it, or picking up a screwdriver. When using augmented reality glasses, such as the Hololens from Microsoft, or General Electric Daqri's and APX Lab's Smart Helmets and Skylight, respectively, it's likely to cause a huge disruption in enterprise service.

By using augmented reality, service technicians will be able to walk up to any item that has Internet of Things technology and look at the object and its self-reported problem, both visually and with overlaid data. This saves time and money when it comes to diagnosing and repairing and you no longer need a technician to look into various systems and run diagnostic checks to determine what is wrong. The object simply shows the technician what is going on.

Proactive Service and Repairing Things Before They Break

The Internet of Things will also disrupt the service industry by allowing data-gathering that will help enhance the consumer's overall experience with the product. Instead of having the hassle of a product breaking down under warranty and having to contact the manufacturer for a solution, the product could report possible problems to the manufacturer's service department automatically. Then the company could email the customer to schedule an appointment to repair the item, or send a replacement free of charge. If the product is outside of warranty, the manufacturer could contact the consumer with choices of either having repairs done at a price, or being able to purchase a replacement, perhaps at a discount.

Two particularly big areas where we will see IoT growth include home products and wearables.

Home Products

Home products run the gamut from security systems to intelligent electronic controllers to smart appliances that analyze your energy usage. Future home products will include the ability to recognize when furnaces need servicing; appliances need repairing and other useful services. Perhaps by analyzing the network of appliances, and their relative ages, manufacturers, service technicians, and retail outlets can contact consumers over maintaining, repairing, or replacing certain items. For example, a manufacturer of home appliances could do an inventory of networked products and contact the user about upgrading products they don't have networked. Most homes have refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers. A quick inventory of those items with connectivity will also show missing items where the person may have appliances that are not connected. This would suggest that the appliances are old and out of date, and should be replaced.

Wearables

A popular place for the Internet of Things is wearable devices. These are often fitness related, or health related. Wearable devices can sense your health and determine whether you are in distress, or even if you're about to have a crisis such as a heart attack, stroke, or maybe you fell and became injured. These wearable devices could save your life if they are paired with service centers that could route your vital statistics automatically to first responders.

But even if you are not in dire need this service, your vital statistics could go to companies that look to target people with various health requirements or parameters. Maybe you have high cholesterol? That information could target certain service providers and medical professionals who can help you lower your cholesterol. Or maybe you're very fit and run races. By noting that you run marathons, advertisers could offer you incentives on things such as running shoes, water bottles, and other running gear. If companies notice that your knee is acting up, you might get a phone call from an osteopath or physical therapist that specializes in knees. 

Near Field Communication Tags or NFC Tags

Near Field Communication or NFC tags allow connectivity with things that normally do not have connectivity, such as places or certain items. By programming NFC tags, enterprise services can have products alert their users when service is needed, how to contact service representatives, if there is a problem, and add other functionality to the object without a full upgrade. Business owners can use NFC tags to promote their local business services. Let's say a product has a problem in the field -- by having NFC tags in appropriate places, the potential customer could easily find a nearby repair shop just by triggering the NFC tags.

Service businesses will continue to find ways to apply Internet of Things technologies to create new business models.  If you'd like to know more how you can apply IoT to your business, sign up for a free consulting workshop below.  We are working with several clients to help them stay ahead and take advantage of these trends and technologies.

Photo by Microsoft Sweden / CC BY 2.0 

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