We Collaborate #5 – Friend Your Vending Machine
Operational Technology and Information Technology are fusing, powered by smaller processors and better sensor and network technology. The Internet of Things is coming, as we are ‘getting physical.’ This provides the opportunity to create smart connected products, with every product potentially offering a direct, proactive route to the hearts and minds of consumers. Combine it with social networking, and the consumers’ lists of ‘friends’ could look very different a few years from now.
Machines get increasingly more intelligent and ... connected, so they can learn about themselves and about their environment and share what they have learned. Cars, road sensors, engines, fridges and – indeed – vending machines all will become more 'intelligent' in their own way. Soon there will be over 50 billion connected devices, roughly about 10 for every inhabitant of our planet.
Some describe it as the Internet of Things or the Industrial Internet, and some describe it as the Internet of Customers, since behind many devices there are consumers. All foresee a world in which devices generate content, making the creation of content no longer the exclusive domain of human beings.
And in that world being social will no longer be the exclusive domain of human beings either!
Data will be generated in such quantities that we will need strong analytic technologies and visualization to thrive on these data waves. We will also need lightning-fast technologies to let these devices connect to other devices for the appropriate response.
Or to people.
To prepare for this new friendship, consider the following:
(1) Think of any device as a potential sensor. Think about what you want it to 'learn' and tell you or another device.
What happens when it breaks down and needs repair? Technology is already in use that automatically sends messages to the maintenance engineers of a jet engine or the repair workshop for your connected car.
What does it say about my preferred tastes? The Coca-Cola freestyle vending machine allows a consumer to mix his or her own drink and experiment until a favorite is created. A better consumer panel could hardly exist to guide Coa-Cola about what to offer to this consumer next!
How can it help me stay healthy or keep me safe? Think about how it could monitor your health condition when on the move, or tell you about dangerous areas of town to avoid.
(2) Think about how to make the dialogue with the consumer more intelligent. Even if you don’t want to be identified by name, a device can 'recognize' your age, gender, fingerprint or mood with a remarkable level of accuracy. So it will be better at starting a sensible dialogue with you - either in the real world when you are in front of it, or in the virtual world when, for example, your car reminds you about the next overnight recharge of the battery. The potential seemed significant enough for Toyota to start investing in its Toyota Friend.
In summary: Devices will be made intelligent, connected, talkative and social in their own, highly unique way. And it’s up to our creativity to maximize our ‘friendship’ with them to create better customer experiences, more effective operational processes and maybe even entirely new ways of doing business.
This contribution by Bernard Helders
Part of Capgemini's TechnoVision 2014 update series. See the overview here.