With all of the talk about the Internet of Things (IoT), it’s easy to get lost in the possibilities of the future. But right now, as you’re reading this article, you should already be devising a plan to integrate connected devices into your business processes.

Similar to the adoption of social media, companies that don't do this risk missing out on meaningful interactions, costing them customer loyalty and revenue. What if top brands like Nike, Delta and Dell never joined Twitter? They wouldn't just be missing out on an Oreo Super Bowl moment, they’d be leaving behind important customer data, sales and upsell opportunities. Social media not only provides an opportunity to engage and entertain customers, but also a means to meet business needs and contribute to sales efforts. The same thing is happening with the integration of connected devices.

Will Social Benefits Translate to IoT?

AT&T’s community resulted in 21,000 customer issues resolved, driving a 16 percent improvement in call deflections year over year. Linksys, a division of Cisco, deflected 120,000 support cases (pdf) each month, and FICO’s community has served 850,000 customers, resulting in a 10 percent improvement in call deflections annually. Royal Bank of Canada realized an 18 percent improvement in customer satisfaction from implementing a social customer care system that was integrated with their traditional call center applications. And, in what may be one of the most well noted social media ROI case studies, in 2009 Dell reported that they had generated $3 million through Twitter alone.

These companies were some of the first to integrate social feeds into business processes like CRM systems early on. When customers heard from companies in a new and convenient way, they became brand loyal and bought more. Now we expect companies to share and respond to us on our social networks. Eventually customers will expect companies to provide the same level of service and attention to their machines and devices.

The call center has transformed over the years. No longer is it just a call center, but rather a contact center where agents monitor and handle phone, web, email, live chat, social media and now connected products. More businesses understand this change and realize that today’s contact center agent has multiple touch points with their customers -- even more than sales.  With the right technology, agents can see a 360-degree view of the customer to help provide the best solution to the customer’s problem. Bringing machines and devices into this conversation will add to this rich layer of data.

Translating Data into Action

Companies that lead the connected product revolution are taking raw machine and device data and turning it into actionable information inside their CRM systems. In turn, they present this in a usable format to service, sales, marketing and R&D to make more informed business decisions. Product data enables agents to proactively reach out when issues arise, and, when issues do occur, agents with visibility into the product can correctly address the issue in a timely manner. Companies are connecting to their devices so that they can “talk” and better inform the organizations that have manufactured them or are servicing them.