Continuous Connection

Reshaping user experiences and business processes in the Age of Continuous Connection

The rise of the Internet of Things changed the way we interact with objects around us. Devices like cars, thermostats, and washers are no longer standalone devices but instead have become connected objects. They sense the world and they exchange information in a network, and they are always connected.

A recent article by Harvard Business Review described the evolution of IoT as The Age of Continuous Connection. Companies who embraced this evolution created a strong relationship with customers thanks to frequent digital interactions, fewer frictions and continuous monitoring of users’ behaviors.

In the pre-connected era companies had several difficulties staying connected to customers, and marketing research offered limited tools and techniques to gain insights from users’ operations. The time between strategy and feedback was too long and after the product’s release there was no easy way to understand how users interact and utilise the product.

The continuous connection opened new opportunities, and technology changed the way companies gained feedback from the market. The marketing department no longer needs to wait for focus group feedback six months after the product launch, today companies can understand people’s behaviors through continuous user research and big data. This scenario unleashes big opportunities for a deeper understanding of user needs and for anticipating and predicting future evolution.

Continuous feedback

Thanks to digital products and services like smart objects, social network, and the cloud system, companies can monitor people consumer’s activity along the entire user journey and consumers can constantly receive stimulus from brands. Consider a smart appliance like a dishwasher: 10 years ago after the purchase customers had no more contact with the company. They couldn’t give feedback and companies couldn’t understand users’ behavior; a few questions in a customer satisfaction report weren’t enough to improve products and services.

The challenge in the continuous connection is not about how to use technology but how to find a way to develop and manage a continuous relationship with customers.

Technologies like the internet of things help us create smart devices, track people’s behavior, actions, routines and machine learning helps us understand patterns and predict action.

In the continuous connection era, people have strong engagement with brands. Generation Z are described as the always-on generation. They have frequent digital interaction and, while they allow companies to use their data, they demand tailored experiences as they know that their data has a huge value and they want something in return. Companies have to understand how to create custom experiences based on personal data.

Microsoft anticipated this trend from 2013 by redefining the entire lineup of gaming console, while other manufacturers created hardware that enables a fully connected life.

Connected strategy

Companies need a strategy to orchestrate data, feedbacks, and insights in order to understand and satisfy consumer needs.

Companies with a clear connected strategy can dramatically improve user experience and create a deeper relationship with customers. However, a connected strategy is not only about frequent interaction and data analysis but also, and essentially, about fast adaption to market changes.

Technology helps companies establish a connection but only a few companies understand how to extract insight and execute good operations.

Nike monitors users through smart devices but also provides advice with a fitness coaching service. Amazon understands people’s behavior but also provides a solution for fewer friction purchases like the one-click button or Alexa voice purchase.

Continuous learning

Companies that have understood the value of connection are creating a strategy focused on deeper interactions with customers. They recognize early user needs and respond quickly, but most of all companies create a system of continuous learning in order to understand how behaviors evolve.

In the continuous connection era, customers demand fast delivery, precise execution, minimal friction, and flexibility. Accessing personal data means creating customized experiences focused on the satisfaction of the unique customer.

This era implies a change in the mindset, there is no longer a diffuse brand experience but instead there is a personal and private relationship. Billboard and tv advertising have lost its effectiveness in developing personal connection between customers and companies.

Companies need to rapidly re-think the way they interact with customers and the way they execute their internal operations. The connected world has just started and everything needs to adapt.