Rage against the machine


April of this year was a very eventful month for me, characterised by many changes. You guessed it, now comes the platitude about constant changes. They included a present, an award and a deep blow. But let’s start right at the beginning.

In April, Brandwatch elected me the most important IoT influencer on Twitter in Germany. An award is always honourable and it made me proud, I am sure you would feel the same. Those who are too keen on prizes and awards rarely get them. However, those who devote their attention with focus and conviction to a special cause unexpectedly come by exciting achievements. Why I am so involved with IoT? I am truly convinced that it will benefit me as a person and my private household. It does make me afraid, not for my business, my office, my car, my lawnmower, my watch or my boat, though I have not got the latter yet and won’t be getting one soon, either!
April was also the month my daughter was born. I won’t bore you by telling you how cute she is and how short my nights have become. But I have the intention to prepare her well for the future in a rapidly changing world. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, said that we cannot compete anymore with artificial intelligence or machines when it comes to knowledge, but as humans we can make a difference with regard to “values, conviction, teamwork, and empathy”. This is why we should focus our efforts on the upbringing of our children.
And my daughter will grow up with the fastest internet. Think I’m joking? This is not a matter of course in our country. The “digital workspace” is changing; offices disappear, as do steady jobs.
More and more jobs can be carried out remotely or from anywhere, especially in our digital area. Without fast internet, this is not possible. Does it not get on your nerves when you sound clipped during a web conference or lose the connection? And the video has to be switched off anyway as the range is insufficient.
My neighbour hit the nail on the head. His two daughters, 14 and 16 years old, complain daily because the internet is insufficient to do what a four-person household wants to do these days. Netflix, WhatsApp, Amazon Prime, Alexa, and so on, used across many different gadgets. Sadly, people on our road do not share our attitude. Many of our neighbours have rejected a new fast fibre connection. Fast internet? We do not need that. Heating, refrigerator, lawnmower, surveillance camera, shutters. I can think of ideas for all gadgets which would make them work better, if I had a better connection. This is starting to sound like a reader’s letter from a frustrated man. So we had better talk about the potential and challenges of the IoT for your business. You may know that I work for a software provider of data management in the cloud. We often help with reducing complexity, with automating and simplifying. Let’s imagine a big online shop with millions of products. It obviously requires a process and high-performing solutions to be fast, constantly available and to stay ahead of the competition.
Let’s look at Apple and the Apple Watch for an instant. Apple’s website offers three generations, two sizes and ten different straps. This amounts to 60 different products offered for sale. Do I need an MDM solution for that? Hardly!
However, this changes fundamentally when you find out that 33 million people have bought an Apple Watch. Why? Each one of these watches generates different data, an individual profile for each customer. Sportsperson or couch-surfer? Runner of hiker? The potential is enormous, for both the product development and for the product management, as it draws conclusions for new innovations from it. But they also carry the seed of the so-called “Next Best Action” for sales and marketing experts.
I use the app of a famous sports brand as I happen to own most of my sports equipment by the same brand. I just really like their style. I get my motivation through the running app. How did I do in comparison to the previous month? I once was in Las Vegas where I jogged to the Las Vegas sign to take a souvenir photograph. Afterwards, I showered and looked at my mobile and found that I had received an email, which praised me for my “Sunday run” and simultaneously made some offer suggestions for my running outfit. It also showed me where the nearest store was located. As I had some free time I went there. Though I did not buy what was offered in the promotions, I still left the shop carrying a shopping bag.
Those who have serious intentions to tackle the subject beyond all the talk and hype about digital transformation should ask themselves whether their data management is ready for it. How can I scale it? How can I use the IoT potential? Which technologies do I need? How I can I differentiate between old and new technology? How can I stay flexible? How quickly can I react to new data and new sources in the supply chain and to new marketing channels? I am neither an engineer, nor did I study information technology. Technology is simply a competitive factor; the question is simply “Are you ready to take it on”?
Why is an enterprise such as Apple quite so successful? For me, it is the power of the platform and the cloud. The simplest usability was the foundation of its success. Even my parents and parents-in-law have mastered smartphone and internet usage that way, and they are improving daily. Every day there is a new innovation, new functions, new apps, the ecosystem is making sure of that. Shouldn’t your business platform follow this model, too?

Ben Rund is a specialist in business and public relations and has more than 20 years of experience in data management. With a superb command of all of the major disciplines of modern corporate communications, he ranks among the top omnichannel influencers. He has spent a great deal of time in Silicon Valley in recent years, working on joint tenders and partnerships with companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce. In November 2017, Ben Rund was appointed General Manager DACH & VP Business Development Europe at Riversand Technologies.

This article was published in The Produktkulturmagazin, issue Q2 2018. Picture credit © Ben Rund


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