sign reading "goggles must be worn"
PHOTO: Adam Birkett

Sensors, “smart” alarms, ordering buttons and a host of other devices comprise the Internet of Things (IoT) market that many reports forecast will explode over the next few years.

For example, Statista forecasts the number of IoT connections will grow from an estimated 1.9 billion in 2017 to nearly 6 billion by 2025.

These IoT connections are used for everything from personal use for fitness and sports to plant equipment to provide predictive indicators of machine failures to retail applications like smart displays that “turn on” when a consumer comes within a pre-defined range, with the idea of providing enhanced customer experience and enhanced sales and revenue.

Better Scores = More Enjoyment

While many people play golf just to get outdoors, get a little exercise and because they enjoy the game, there is little doubt that they enjoy the game more if they see their scores improve.

“From FitBit to Apple Watches, a lot of personal things are being tracked today, from your heart rate to the amount of water that you drink. The technology is also being used to connect people and products in a way you have never been able to before,” said Pete Sena, CEO and chief creative officer for Digital Surgeons, a digital first marketing agency that works with Arccos, a company that sells smart sensors for golfers and an app to analyze the sensor information.

The sensors themselves, part of the Arccos Caddie system, are designed to go on each of a golfer’s clubs to track and record every shot. The app uses this information and provides “plays like" distances (a downhill shot will play like a different distance than an uphill shot, for example) for any point on the course and “Tour Analytics,” which is designed to help players make smarter decisions — such as going for the green or opting for a more conservative shot for players who shoot lower scores.

Another way the IoT helps improve CX, according to Sena, is that it provides proof of holes-in-one or other tremendous shots or scores a golfer may want to share with friends. “Golf is very easy to lie about. With this, it’s no longer just a fish story. Now [the golfer] has proof.”

Related Article: IoT's Impact on Customer Experience? Immediate, Significant, Unavoidable

Improved Sales, Revenue and CX

Jergens Industrial Supply (JIS), a distributor of industrial products like safety glasses, drills and more turned to IoT to improve its customer experience. In the process it helped boost its sales, lowered customer costs and improved customer satisfaction, according to Matt Schron, JIS general manager.

For JIS customers, when frontline workers need safety glasses or other items, all they need to do is press the JIS Express “smart button” affixed to racks, shelving and a few other locations. A manager is alerted of the order to speed the approval process. The buttons are based on the same designed pioneered by Amazon with its Dash buttons. The JIS smart buttons connect to the on-premises wireless network and the back-end Epicor ERP system.

The buttons are programmed for individual SKUs, which can be customized for each person for a specific item (or items) and numbers of units. So an SKU for one person may be a set of safety glasses, while an SKU for another person might be safety glasses and gloves, or two pairs of safety glasses.

The buttons are designed for small businesses with low ordering needs. For larger businesses, JIS offers a vending machine that can hold up to 5,000 items at a time. These machines offer their own IoT capabilities, connecting via Wi-Fi to the ERP system.

Since installation of the smart buttons at customer sites, Jergens has seen sales grow, with the number of buttons deployed and corresponding sales volume doubling every two months, while businesses have enjoyed the simplicity of the “smart” interface and the ability to order quickly, without the need to fill out online forms or call JIS.

Related Article: 3 Areas Where the IoT Will Improve the Customer Journey

IoT Aids CX Through Faster Customer Service

Just as faster provisioning helped JIS provide better customer experiences, commercial building managers who need fast service for heating, air conditioning and other building systems are seeing the benefits of having sensors embedded within these machines that indicate when failure is imminent. Building managers no longer need to adhere to the typical periodic schedules which may or may not have met their needs and are now able to perform preventive maintenance as needed, said David Gianetto, COO of service management software provider Astea International.

Replacing periodic service contracts with on-demand servicing when needed improves customer experiences for building managers, but also for the servicing companies involved, said Gianetto. The software provides technicians and dispatchers insight into what jobs need parts and where to get those parts, which speeds up repairs and reduces service delivery, planning and travel costs for the servicing companies.