Gain Buyin for IIoT Customer Retention Strategy

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By: Babette Ten Haken|

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Companies wrestle with the impact of an IIoT customer success and Industrial IoT customer retention strategy. They have their hands full executing their current customer retention strategy.

Yet data capture from IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) smart equipment in smart factories provides OEMs with opportunity for enhancing their differentiation. Capitalizing on the opportunity to demonstrate even greater value in software and hardware offerings becomes key for an IIoT customer retention strategy.

How well is your current IT infrastructure set up to capture the type of value which impacts customer success and customer retention?

While winter may not be coming, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is already here. Are you embracing or ignoring this challenge to become data-driven and customer-focused?

SAP-Forrester 2015 research reports 50% of global enterprises polled acknowledge the need to move towards IoT adoption of data analytics. Yet 75% of companies feel they do not have leadership buy-in to implement an IIoT strategy.

First of all, these statistics represent a huge gap between what these organizations “have”, what they “want”, and what they actually “need” to grow, expand, and endure in the globally competitive IIoT business ecosystem. Additional research finds the majority of organizations dipping their toes into the IIoT waters focus on stabilizing operational efficiencies. However, they hit a stumbling block when moving projects out of beta test into full-scale deployment.

In addition, as Aberdeen research points out, data from M2M (machine-to-machine), AI (artificial intelligence), software interfaces and business unit customer experience survey research tends to reside in well-guarded data kingdoms within legacy departmental silos. No one is sharing their knowledge with the very people essential to creating a viable IIoT Customer Retention Strategy.

Finally, how many of your sales people are conversant and comfortable taking a hybridized approach to selling for customer retention? The focus (and compensation) of most of the Sales 2.0 universe is on new customer acquisition. Big data and analytics are not part of the first sale equation. Keeping customers happy, successful and retained is up to the Operations and Tech Support teams. Are you missing out on the greatest opportunities over the life cycle of your equipment, platforms, software and systems by short selling the capabilities of customer-focused sales teams to collaborate with their data-driven counterparts?

An IIoT customer retention strategy focuses on cross-functional collaboration. Is your IT infrastructure becoming more holistic or more fragmented in response to the IIoT data tsunami?

Yesterday’s IT department is becoming over-proliferated with new types of IT professionals, in response to the IIoT. Rather than reinforcing cross-functional collaboration, new titles and new responsibilities are fueling the IIoT version of “Us versus Them” mindset in the workplace.

Three new species are emerging in your IIoT data ecosystem.

Today’s CITOs (Chief Information Technology) apparently are perceived as being more comfortable stabilizing systems rather than making them more agile. The new hybridized-skillset IT sheriff in 25% of corporate cultures is the CDO (Chief Digital Officer). These individuals have hybridized technology and business skillsets and are thought to be better able to meet the information required for an IIoT customer retention strategy:

  1. Operations (stability) data; and
  2. Line of business units (software as a service).

In addition, DevOps enters into the IIoT customer retention ecosystem. DevOps professionals are both software developers and information technology professionals. They are supposed to be cross-functional and collaborative. They are tasked with building, testing and releasing software more quickly and reliably.

These three IT gunslingers come to a veritable showdown at the borders of data kingdoms. They wrestle with the complexities of security breaches generated by employees implementing SaaS (software-as-a-service) and stealth IT solutions to work around departmental data hoarding.

Which means that the data and analytics required for a solid IIoT customer retention strategy can become pawns in a Game of Data Thrones scenario within your organization. No wonder why 75% of organizations polled in the SAP-Forrester study feel their leadership is reluctant to support the inevitability of IIoT deployment.

Think Workforce when gaining buy-in for an IIoT Customer Retention Strategy.

Take a page out of the startup manual. Consider the Minimum Viable IIoT customer retention strategy your organization requires to create and execute this type of program. It’s not a matter of hiring more sales reps, more IT folks, more customer support folks, or more analysts. It is a matter of creating a tech workforce strategy focused on customer success for customer retention.

As long as workforce hiring practices remain sequestered in departmental kingdoms, your IoT data continues to be hoarded as well. Start by creating a beta sales team cross-pollinated with folks typically reserved for customer support. Apply across the entire customer lifecycle of at least one account.

An IIoT Customer Retention Strategy does more to liberate your organization from status quo legacy mindset than it will to wreak havoc on IT departments. Customer retention strategy still remains firmly about the human equation.

First and foremost, your people will learn to engage each other on behalf of your customers. This is the Future of Work.

In addition, employees are hired to work cross-functionally, multi-generationally and collaboratively. Finally, they will work in a team to access, analyze and apply insights for customer success as a logical extension of workforce engagement.

The Future of Work is here today, just as is the IIoT. What are you waiting for?

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About The Author

Babette Ten Haken

Founder & President, Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC

Babette Ten Haken is a catalyst, corporate strategist and facilitator. She writes, speaks, consults and coaches about how cross-functional team collaboration revolutionizes the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) value chain for customer loyalty, customer success and customer retention. Her One Millimeter Mindset™ programs draw from her background as a scientist, sales professional, enterprise-level facilitator, Six Sigma Green Belt and certified DFSS Voice of the Customer practitioner. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.

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