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Architecting for Things As Customers

by Don Scheibenreif  |  April 1, 2016  |  Comments Off on Architecting for Things As Customers

What happens when internet connected things start taking on the behaviors of human customers? How will your business need to change when things become your customers?

As part of Gartner’s Special Report  Unlock Digital Business Value Through the Economics of Connections, Jenny SussinTad Travis and I took our work on this subject a  step further in Architect Your Business to Engage, Interact and Serve ‘Things’ as a New Customer Segment. In this note, we advise Enterprise Architects on the potential of this trend and what they can do to help their organizations get ready for this inevitable future. A big part of this is getting people to rethink their notion of  “what is a customer?”

We see three main impacts of this trend on organizations:

  • Enterprise architects must design for an Internet-connected thing requesting support from customer service as the organization’s first exposure to things as customers. Gartner estimates that six billion internet-connected devices will have the capability to request support by 2018. Devices may exhibit some very different behaviors than human customers, such as responding in a fraction of a second, which a person cannot. Enterprise architects will need to guide their enterprises to develop capabilities for responding to significantly larger numbers of support requests communicated directly by things.  
  • Enterprise architects must collaborate with their marketing organizations on the use of algorithms in their approaches to  marketing to things. When things become the equivalent to human customers, the entire practice of marketing will need to change. Instead of appealing heavily to emotion, marketers will need to appeal to logic and reason when marketing to things. Enterprise architects will have to guide their organizations to develop business and/or technology capabilities to identify, segment, and engage with things that are empowered by humans to make purchasing decisions.
  • Enterprise architects must proactively outline impacts on sales and digital commerce processes to accommodate things as customers, developing deliverables to secure a pilot program. When things are treated like human customers, and selling is largely programmatic, traditional sales incentives models and loyalty programs will not work. Algorithms that sell can’t be motivated by a trip to Hawaii, and smart houses that buy can’t be taken to nice dinners as a reward for loyalty. Enterprise architects will need to guide their organizations to develop the capability to help sales operate in a world where things will be a portion of or possibly, the majority of, their customers.

The note contains examples, advice, and perspective – not just for the Enterprise Architect, but for anyone that has a stake in digital strategy for their organization. Things will become customers. Are you ready?

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Category: business-moment  crm  digital-business  economics-of-connections  internet-of-things  iot  marketing-it  technology-and-emerging-trends  things-as-customers  

Don Scheibenreif
Vice President and Distinguished Analyst
9 years at Gartner
9 years IT Industry

Don Scheibenreif is a Distinguished VP Analyst with Gartner's Customer Experience research group. He works with with Customer Experience and other IT leaders on how emerging trends and digital business will impact CX and enterprise digital transformation. Read Full Bio

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