Photo: Sam Liew
Customer centricity has become a key priority in the era of digital businesses. In fact, 89 percent of business leaders surveyed by Gartner believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition by 2016. Competing and winning in this new era demands a focus on positive user-centric experiences.
With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT), most encounters are now increasingly digitalised in nature; "gadgets" previously deemed as ordinary are now intelligent devices that can enable personalised experiences. Think smart lights that react to environmental factors to provide individual user experiences and cars that fine-tune their performance by learning the driver's habits.
The Accenture Technology Vision 2015 report found that companies are exploring a variety of emerging channels to engage customers including: wearables (62 percent), connected TVs (68 percent), connected cars (59 percent), and smart objects (64 percent).
These, and similar examples, are coalescing into the "Internet of Me" — the emerging interconnected environment, in which businesses are building products and services to be designed and created by specifically centring on the individual. It is one of five trends covered in Accenture's latest research on technology vision, and a key approach in which enterprises can stretch their boundaries.
Companies integrating personalisation with their core product or service are finding a significant competitive advantage. Forward-thinking businesses are changing the way they build new applications, products and services, and reaping benefits as a result. Sixty percent of organisations Accenture surveyed indicate they are seeing a positive ROI on their investments in personalisation technologies.
The "Internet of Me" will fundamentally impact the way businesses design applications. Looking ahead, the focus will be on making people the centre of business decisions. Features and functionality must reflect what individuals are trying to accomplish, enabling them to control, measure and even automate parts of their lives in both the digital and physical worlds.
Leading companies are already moving in this direction. For example, the new connected car from Mercedes-Benz includes application programming interface (API) connections to Nest thermostats at the driver's home. The car can notify the thermostat as to when the driver will arrive, and the thermostat adjusts the in-home temperature to the driver's desired settings.
The "Internet of Me" also raises customer "mindshare" stakes and the IoT makes this opportunity even greater. Rather than a single channel, such as the PC or mobile phone, the convergence of the digital and physical worlds is creating hundreds of potential channels that reach deep into every aspect of people's lives.
As consumer adoption of connected devices grows, businesses have the opportunity to define how people will use them, as well as how the devices will connect with one another and what form those interactions will take.