The IoT Will Kill the Sales Funnel

The rise of intelligent machines, the move toward subscription-based services and the growth of the sharing economy are all conspiring to impact the way companies sell products. Here's why that is a good thing.
By Ray Kingman

If, in the near future, a business were to subscribe to a light bulb service provider, it wouldn't be difficult to imagine those bulbs ordering their own replacements. But there's another value proposition lurking in the background.

Lighting could also tell you a lot about productivity at a workplace, because a strong correlation may exist between hours worked and lighting used, and if usage were to be integrated with hardware and software usage, a clear picture would emerge of how productivity and performance ebb and flow in the business. Data analysis could signal the need to add personnel during times of intense work, or to schedule downtime when thing get slow. And what if one of the quarterly reporting requirements to Wall Street were a company's utilization index that, along with financial performance and other factors, measured use of capital? Analyzing data collected by devices could lead us to find the keys to working more smartly and efficiently.

IoT Will Supercharge Sharing and Profit
Today, Airbnb and Uber are the poster children of shared services. In businesses, human resources are increasingly outsourced and the cloud has enabled shared IT services. But what happens when shared services hit Main Street?

Nearly every bakery needs its own delivery truck, but that vehicle probably sits idle for most of the day because bakers deliver bread in the morning. Now, imagine that same truck as an autonomous vehicle operating as a shared service. Configured with an embedded IoT device, the truck could schedule its own tune-ups, navigate itself to common destinations and order its replacement, but it could also put itself to work for another business during downtime. Rather than the baker investing in a truck and managing it, the vehicle would manage itself because it would be part of a shared service designed to execute against the distribution schedules of the multiple subscriber companies it served.

Shared services enabled with IoT analytics could have a profound commercial impact by helping to drive down costs through improved capital efficiency. A new ecosystem built around the nexus of IoT intelligence and the shared service economy would remove some of the leverage that larger organizations currently enjoy, and allow the long tail of commerce to drive more innovation and profit.

Ray Kingman is the CEO and founder of Semcasting, a marketing data services provider that specializes in helping companies target audiences based on their online and offline activities.

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