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Create IOT products and solutions – Part 1

It’s very interesting to see and understand how things are really working at the level of bytes and bits. In software, we rarely think about those details, as most of these things are abstracted so a software programmer can focus on just his piece while the hardware engineers and embedded programmers take care of making those intricate and complex circuit boards.

 

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Sometime back when we decided to do something in the space of IOT, we were complete newbies with absolutely no background, academic, or professional. But we learnt many things the hard way by trying, failing, and correcting. But perhaps as many people say, that may also be the best approach towards learning anything new.

Today with an experience of building an actual physical thing that listens, I feel more confident about the space, and our ability to replicate our success story for our clients as well. But what is that we build, and now a question of great debate, and subjectivity. I can perhaps think of some rules that an IOT product or initiative should bear in mind.

Before going forward, give it a thought

Does the device really help its customer? This is a very basic and moot question that every innovator and maker should ask themselves.

Does the product makes our life more safer, convenient, healthier, and happier? If the answer is yes for these questions, the product may find takers in the market.

A product must have a clear cut value proposition for its intended buyers. If the product is just a cool gadget, it will find utility only with a handful of users who will be very quick to move onto something more cooler as and when it’s available in market.

internet-of-things

Just having built something and pushing it off to the supply chain may not be of great help in building a sustainable business that will have a long term impact. One should think of constantly reinventing the product to make it better & more useful for its customers. Timely service, and a great customer support will go a long way in winning the confidence of the current active users, and the word of mouth publicity will help in winning more users till the product reaches a critical mass.

There are some challenges too

The challenge that we face today in IOT, especially industrial IOT is that existing chips that help the sensors transmit the data directly into cloud, consume a lot more power than what would be practical for widespread adoption in industries. But recent advancements in technology with the Qualcomm Cat M1 modules, and Verizon’s upgrading its infrastructure to allow ultra low band transmission at really affordable rates can be the right steps in the direction of making IOT really ubiquitous.

Security is another big challenge for mass adoption of IOT. Seeds of doubt about the device being sufficiently protected against hacking is one big reason why customers are still not able to fully give in to the idea of leaving their critical functions to a device. What if my smart locking system is hacked, and an intruder is able to hack his way inside my house?

An intrusion into house, or the smart lighting solution being hacked are still something not as much threatening as a possibility of a smart glucometer or a pacemaker being hacked. Risk of this nature can have life threatening consequences, and cannot be taken lightly.

These are valid questions which the IOT community will have to tackle head on. But I believe these questions or challenges are always there with any new technology. It takes time for ecosystem to mature to a level where issues of security are addressed, questions of viability, feasibility, and usability are addressed, and then mass adoption follows. The stage in which the current IOT development possibly is where developers and engineers worldwide are working in the direction of making IOT safer, and more useful for everyone. Soon it will be IOT for everyone.

Stay tuned for next article about some specific steps and questions to create an IOT Product.

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Retention playbook for Insurance firms in the backdrop of financial crises

4 minutes read

Belonging to one of the oldest industries in the world, Insurance companies have weathered multiple calamities over the years and have proven themselves to be resilient entities that can truly stand the test of time. Today, however, the industry faces some of its toughest trials yet. Technology has fundamentally changed what it means to be an insurer and the cumulative effects of the pandemic coupled with a weak global economic output have impacted the industry in ways both good and bad.

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Source: Deloitte Services LP Economic Analysis

For instance, the U.S market recorded a sharp dip in GDP in the wake of the pandemic and it was expected that the economy would bounce back bringing with it a resurgent demand for all products (including insurance) across the board. It must be noted that the outlook toward insurance products changed as a result of the pandemic. Life insurance products were no longer an afterthought, although profitability in this segment declined over the years. Property-and-Casualty (P&C) insurance, especially motor insurance, continued to be a strong driver, while health insurance proved to be the fastest-growing segment with robust demand from different geographies

Simultaneously, the insurance industry finds itself on the cusp of an industry-wide shift as technology is starting to play a greater role in core operations. In particular, technologies such as AI, AR, and VR are being deployed extensively to retain customers amidst this technological and economic upheaval.

Double down on digital

For insurance firms, IT budgets were almost exclusively dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, but with the rise of InsurTech, it is imperative that firms start dedicating more of their budgets towards developing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, AI-driven offerings, etc. Insurance has long been an industry that makes extensive use of complex statistical and mathematical models to guide pricing and product development strategies. By incorporating the latest technological advances with the rich data they have accumulated over the years, insurance firms are poised to emerge stronger and more competitive than ever.

Using AI to curate a bespoke customer experience

Insurance has always been a low-margin affair and success in the business is primarily a function of selling the right products to the right people and reducing churn as much as possible. This is particularly important as customer retention is normally conceived as an afterthought in most industries, as evidenced in the following chart.

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        Source: econconusltancy.com

AI-powered tools (even with narrow capabilities) can do wonders for the insurance industry at large. When architected in the right manner, they can be used to automate a bulk of the standardized and automated processes that insurance companies have. AI can be used to automate and accelerate claims, assess homeowner policies via drones, and facilitate richer customer experiences through sophisticated chatbots. Such advances have a domino effect of increasing CSAT scores, boosting retention rates, reducing CACs, and ultimately improving profitability by as much as 95%.

Crafting immersive products through AR/VR

Customer retention is largely a function of how good a product is, and how effective it is in solving the customers’ pain points. In the face of increasing commodification, insurance companies that go the extra mile to make the buying process more immersive and engaging can gain a definite edge over competitors.

Globally, companies are flocking to implement AR/VR into their customer engagement strategies as it allows them to better several aspects of the customer journey in one fell swoop. Relationship building, product visualization, and highly personalized products are some of the benefits that AR/VR confers to its wielders.  

By honoring the customer sentiments of today and applying a slick AR/VR-powered veneer over its existing product layer, insurance companies can cater to a younger audience (Gen Z) by educating them about insurance products and tailoring digital delivery experiences. This could pay off in the long run by building a large customer base that could be retained and served for a much longer period.

The way forward

The Insurance industry is undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions as an older generation makes way for a new and younger one that has little to no perceptions about the industry. By investing in next-generation technologies such as AR/VR, firms can build new products to capture this new market and catapult themselves to leadership positions simply by way of keeping up with the times.

We have already seen how AR is a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. It is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

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