IoT and the CMO: The Next Level of Customer Engagement

HDS's Global CMO takes a look at the relationship between IoT and the CMO.


This article first appeared on Tech Exec. The original story can be found here.

Over the last five years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been earmarked as the next big thing in technology and innovation.

On the surface, it is a technology that is set to change how communities, businesses and machines communicate with each other. Under the bonnet of these shiny innovations, the technology takes advantage of the reduced price of sensor-based hardware, and couples this with the last in real-time data analytics software.

Ever since Gartner predicted that by 2020 (36 months away), 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet, organisations have been investigating how they can create utility from connecting “things”, communicating with them and having them communicate with each other.

Like many new innovations, the answers to this is often found in the consumer space. This is a space where IoT already has brand awareness via wearable devices such as the fit-bit, as well as through “smart” devices which are slowly creeping up in our homes via smart thermostats, televisions and fridges.

But beyond consumer devices, how will IoT help businesses? And how should organisations investigate the true benefits of a technology where there is no playbook?

For the global CMO of Hitachi Data Systems, Asim Zaheer, the answer is simple. The strategy lies in servicing the customer.

Asim Zaheer, Global CMO at Hitachi Data Systems

“IoT can really profoundly enhance the customer experience. It is a technology that is going to be very disruptive, and we have merely scratched the surface of its potential.”

A global CMO with a marketing team that spans 120 different countries, Zaheer was in Australia for CMO Disrupt in February. He believes that IoT is a key element to digital transformation and that it can have an overwhelming impact on creating an intimate, interactive and relevant customer experience (CX).

IoT: Data, Insights & the Customer

Zaheer reckons that IoT is already having a tremendous impact at an enterprise level, with Hitachi Data Systems working closely with a variety of sectors on how to implement sensor-based communication technology.

“[IoT] has just begun to grow in the consumer space from smart wearables to smart home devices. However the real potential for this technology is also in the commercial enterprise.

“From a commercial perspective, the IoT trend is going to come from creating ‘smart’ transport systems, heaving machinery systems, energy systems and computing systems.”

Zaheer believes that the on flow affect from the prevalence of IoT will be in the proliferation of data, which is where the link between the customer and the company can really be formed.

To illuminate this, Zaheer talked through the recent purchase he made of a car:

“I recently bought a new car and didn’t realise it was a smart car. I can log into an app and check the fuel levels, start the car, as well as make adjustments to the in-car experience.”

“Not only is that enhancing my experience as a customer. It is collecting the information about me as a consumer, and extracting valuable information which can be fed back into the business.”

IoT & the CMO

Zaheer believes that IoT enhances his real-time experience of his vehicle as well as create a plethora of information on him, which he argues can be very useful for the the marketing team of said car company.

“The auto company might notice I’m using my car more through assessing my mileage, and they can in-turn sell solutions to me that are more tailored,” he hypothesised.

This type of engagement with the customer provides an opportunity for the CMO to create a more personalised, intimate connection with the customer.

“It allows vendors to service their customers better, as well as take a personalised approach to marketing.”

In an era where the average person is engaging with their digital ecosystem for 6 hours a day, this type of information can prove invaluable to CMO’s, who are charged with building a digital engagement strategy that is sincere and relevant.

From this perspective, Zaheer believes the link between IoT technology and the CMO will continue to grow, and that due to the amount of information that IoT can provide marketing teams, it will be an invaluable reference point for the future.

Building a CX Strategy Using IoT is Collaborative

So where should the CMO start in building out a strategy using IoT?

“IoT strategy has to be a partnership between the CIO and CMO. It has to start with the business requirements, and having the CMO work with other stakeholders, in understanding where they want to go with their customers.”

Zaheer thinks that as a business, teams need to understand what areas they need to enhance for the customer and work from there. This collaborative approach will ensure that the technical requirements, executed by the IT teams, can be aligned with the customer experience and the CMO.

He concluded that with IoT only increasing in relevance for the enterprise, understanding how powerful it will be from an engagement perspective will be a point of engagement for CMOs with the technology.

“At Hitachi Data Systems I am already heavily involved with our technology teams in developing an IoT strategy. This will become more common.”