Illustration of many people using different technologies, including televisions and drones

The Internet of Behavior and the future of customer experience

If you look around the room you're in, you'll likely find more than one electronic device connected to the internet. Maybe it's your smartphone. Or maybe it's a kitchen appliance, a sensor-driven home security system or even the robot that knows exactly when to vacuum your hardwood floors.

The network created by these connected devices is known as the Internet of Things (IoT) — and the more connected we get, the more data we create. Diving deeper, the more data we create, the bigger the opportunity is to design personalized experiences tailored to each individual's habits, needs and lifestyle. And, the more opportunity there is to influence users' behaviors.

This data driven influence is referred to as the Internet of Behavior (IoB), and it is a top strategic trend for 2021 identified by Gartner. Think of a telemetric car insurance app that monitors your driving habits; you might drive more carefully if you know it's on. Or, consider a health insurance app that tracks customers' physical activity with the intent of offering a rebate on premiums at a certain exercise threshold. Might you run just a little bit longer? The research firm notes, "As organizations improve not only the amount of data they capture, but also how they combine data from different sources and use that data, the Internet of Behavior will continue to affect how organizations interact with people."

This trend introduces significant implications and new potential for the future of customer experience. Read on to learn more about the evolution of IoB and how it is influencing customer experience, as well as the important security and privacy considerations companies should keep in mind in order to protect their customers and themselves.

What is IoB and how does it differ from IoT?

While IoT is primarily focused on enabling devices to become connected through the integration of sensors and connectivity, IoB is more about how people actually use those different IoT devices and how companies can use this information to deliver better experiences. Ultimately, IoB relies on IoT structures to drive its value proposition.

To illustrate a use case for IoB, consider a small delivery company installing in-car devices that can sense brake and acceleration patterns. This information could tell the company a few different things: perhaps their drivers aren't driving as safely as they should be and additional training is required. Or, perhaps there are mechanical problems with the vehicle that should be addressed as part of preventative maintenance.

How can the IoB improve customer experience?

The Internet of Things has already greatly improved digital customer experience. IoB, however, really takes these technologies to another level by transforming connectivity from a matter of mere observation to something that is actively integrated into people's lives.

A smartwatch, for example, is a wearable device that can track weather forecast information, your daily calendar and your average step count. But, what if your smartwatch could integrate all three of these things and suggest helpful recommendations? Perhaps rain is in the forecast for 1 p.m. when you usually take your daily walk but your schedule is clear at noon — your watch could prompt you to exercise earlier.

Or: What if your smartphone could integrate your stock picks with your bank account and nudge you toward putting more in savings on the days when the stock market performs well?

These connections teach companies so much about their customers' lifestyles and give them opportunities to market products and solutions in less obtrusive ways. Though both the IoB and the IoT are interconnected and complex, brands can win over their customers by synthesizing the information to make helpful suggestions that in the end, will improve their lives in some way.

These kinds of approaches to personalization will be transformative to CX overall. A survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TELUS International tells us that 76% of Americans are more likely to complete a purchase when met by personalized experiences. The same survey also found that companies that take a more personalized approach increase their chances that customers will recommend them to others.

What are important security and privacy considerations?

While most consumers appreciate anything that makes their lives easier, they also care deeply about their privacy. That's why when working with personal information, brands must have strong cybersecurity policies and measures in place, especially when dealing with sensitive data such as health or financial information.

For example, if a customer agrees to wear a fitness tracker in order to get lower health insurance premiums, the company has an obligation to use the tracker's information only for the purposes for which the customer has consented. In the same way, a car insurance company that asks customers to use driving monitoring devices or apps must use the information responsibly. To improve trust, and therefore uptake, companies may want to consider giving customers flexibility when it comes to the use of their data. Consider giving customers the ability to choose how much data they want to share, as well as what and how much data they want shared with third parties. Above all else, it's critical for companies to be transparent with their customers.

The more that brands can demonstrate how they are protecting customers' personal information, the more likely it will be that they will be able to earn their loyalty and repeat business.

As the amount of data available via the Internet of Things continues to grow at a rapid pace, companies have a unique opportunity to leverage it in order t demonstrate that they understand their customers. Successful companies will take security and privacy seriously while creating personalized, game-changing experiences.

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