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Internet of Things Challenge: The Sensor That Cried Wolf | @ThingsExpo #IoT #M2M #Sensors

Does all the added complexity benefit the customer or does it just benefit your organization?

My daughter called with a frantic message. She was driving my car (why she was driving my car when she has her own is the subject for another time) and a warning message appeared on the car console: “Engine overheated! Stop engine and allow to cool down” (see Figure 1).

Fortunately, my daughter was nearly home, so she got the car home, shut it down and called me immediately (I was on the road somewhere…Washington DC, Philadelphia, Knoxville, Chicago, Toronto…I don’t even remember where anymore). I called my trusty mechanic (Chuck) and he was able to work my car into the schedule when I got back home.

Figure 1: Engine Overheated Warning Message

So Friday morning I gingerly drove the car to the mechanic (about 2 miles away) and waited for the verdict. Here is the conversation with Chuck:

Chuck: “We found the problem and it’s a sensor that is broken.”

Me: “So the engine was not actually overheating.”

Chuck: “Correct”

Me: “What is it going to cost to replace the sensor?”

Chuck: “Unfortunately the sensor is buried in the engine, so there is quite a bit of work required just to get to it. So it’s going to cost about $500 to replace the sensor.”

Me: “So let me get this clear; it’s going to cost $500 to fix a problem that doesn’t exist?”

Chuck: [Very long pause] “Yep”

So I am paying $500 to fix a problem (overheating engine) that does not exist. And, problems like these could get a lot worse in our new “smart” world.

The Sensor That Cried Wolf
As more and more sensors get added to more and more appliances, vehicles, machinery, equipment, and devices, the probability and impact of the false positives as they become connected in the Internet of Things world grows exponentially. The interplay between the sensors and any malfunctions (whether sensors wearing out or poorly designed sensors or criminally hacked) dramatically increases the potential of the Internet of Things world sending out false messages – sensors “crying wolf” about a problem that does not really exist.

While these inadvertent messages can quickly wear down the customer experience, fixing these false positives costs money – real money – and likely real money to the customer.

Complexity seldom works to the benefit of the user or customer. Adding more sensors to any device increases the potential to negatively impact the customer experience if manufacturers do not give careful consideration to where and how these sensors are going to make the life of the customer – my life – better. Paying to fix problems that do not exist is not a good start.

Customer Experience / Customer Satisfaction Ramifications
Many of today’s leading digital organizations go to great lengths to drive a more compelling, more engaging customer experience; to simplify the key decisions that their customers need to make, such as:

  • Uber simplifying my decision how to get from where I currently am, to where I need to be (and in a very creative yet informative interface that allows me to track the exact location of my driver)
  • Amazon who seems never satisfied in improving their customers’ experience from one-click ordering to their “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” recommendations to Prime service
  • Chipotle and Starbucks mobile ordering (they enable me to order favorite selections at my favorite stores with only a couple of clicks of the button)
  • Concur who has made expense reporting almost (almost) bearable with how they have simplified the entry of expense items

There are others as well who got the memo about the importance of providing a more engaging customer experience and the resulting increase in customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and customer advocacy and likelihood to recommend.

The Internet of Things fascination with more and more sensors to capture more and more data can undo all of this if organizations don’t address a couple of key questions upfront of their Internet of Things initiative:

  • Does the collection of the data improve my user experience, or does it only provide the manufacturer with more ways to exploit my personal usage?
  • What are the potential customer experience, customer satisfaction and customer advocacy ramifications of the above question?

Let’s not make the classic Silicon Valley mistake: just because you can do something with technology does not necessary mean it is the right thing to do. Seriously contemplate the objectives of your Internet of Things strategy and ask a simple question:

Does all the added complexity benefit the customer or does it just benefit your organization?

Ask yourself “How tolerant are my customers going to be to pay to fix problems that don’t exist?”

If the added benefit does not outweigh the added cost and complexity, rethink your Internet of Things strategy and approach, and rethink that strategy and approach from the perspective of your customers. Getting things right with your customers is usually a pretty good strategy.

The post Internet of Things [IoT] Challenge: The Sensor That Cried Wolf appeared first on InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services.

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More Stories By William Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo, author of “Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business” and “Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science”, is responsible for setting strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings for Dell EMC’s Big Data Practice.

As a CTO within Dell EMC’s 2,000+ person consulting organization, he works with organizations to identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He’s written white papers, is an avid blogger and is a frequent speaker on the use of Big Data and data science to power an organization’s key business initiatives. He is a University of San Francisco School of Management (SOM) Executive Fellow where he teaches the “Big Data MBA” course. Bill also just completed a research paper on “Determining The Economic Value of Data”. Onalytica recently ranked Bill as #4 Big Data Influencer worldwide.

Bill has over three decades of experience in data warehousing, BI and analytics. Bill authored the Vision Workshop methodology that links an organization’s strategic business initiatives with their supporting data and analytic requirements. Bill serves on the City of San Jose’s Technology Innovation Board, and on the faculties of The Data Warehouse Institute and Strata.

Previously, Bill was vice president of Analytics at Yahoo where he was responsible for the development of Yahoo’s Advertiser and Website analytics products, including the delivery of “actionable insights” through a holistic user experience. Before that, Bill oversaw the Analytic Applications business unit at Business Objects, including the development, marketing and sales of their industry-defining analytic applications.

Bill holds a Masters Business Administration from University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, Computer Science and Business Administration from Coe College.

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