Callidus’ cloud platform gets wired up for the Internet of Things
Data feeds from business devices redefine “customer relationships” for its sales and marketing applications.
Imagine that, as a marketer, you have a direct stream of data reporting back from every product sold as a result of your campaigns.
That’s the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) for marketers, and a key driver behind the announcement today by marketing and sales platform Callidus Software that it is getting wired up.
The company’s CallidusCloud platform provides sales, marketing, learning and customer experience applications for enterprises. Its Lead to Money suite will receive API data from a variety of IoT-enabled devices sold by its 4,700 company customers, which include Barclays, Verizon and Fitbit. Lead to Money applications include lead identification, sales onboarding and content, proposal and quote generation, contracts, commission administration, and customer experience monitoring.
This is the first major foray into IoT for the Dublin, California-based firm, and it highlights the potentially transformative effect that the IoT could have on marketing, selling, customer relations and the boundaries between customers and brands.
The devices, Callidus Content Marketing Director Chris Bucholtz told me, could include vehicles, coffee makers, copiers/printers, heavy equipment like mining drills and medical imaging equipment. The API feeds will allow Callidus users to monitor the health and performance of the devices they have sold or leased.
At the very least, the incoming data streams will create a kind of “responsive selling,” Bucholtz said. A brand might know immediately, for instance, when toner on a copier/printer is running low, so it can automatically ship out a resupply under a standing order or send out a quote.
Other possible use cases include the automatic generation of customer usage reports so that device makers and marketers know which features are most popular and which ones are most problematic. Specific training modules or other assistance could automatically become available when, for example, end users appear to be having a problem with one of the operational steps for the device.
This creates opportunities for ongoing sales for, say, equipment makers, but it also creates additional layers of attention and monitoring. Software can help monitor the product, but some human oversight may be needed, at least in these early stages of IoT. One can expect a wave of new IoT-monitoring software tools to emerge, so as to lower the costs of keeping tabs on the device.
IoT-enabled platforms may thus challenge the current notions of “customer service.” Up to now, customer service has been initiated by the customer. When your car doesn’t work correctly, you take it to a repair shop.
But now, Bucholtz notes, “the device is calling the vendor.” He pointed to the example of electric car maker Telsa, which monitors a data stream from its vehicle so that it can fix issues even before the vehicle owner knows there is one.
The other challenge will be defining and enforcing the new boundaries of privacy for business and individual users. These data streams obviously cannot be anonymized, since the copier-maker needs to know to whom it should send the new toner.
That means that someone — human or software — will be tracking your daily activity with that device. Even if it’s not personal info, it could be competitively valuable. Bucholtz told me that the data will be delivered with the consent of the customer, but that consent option — and its various dimensions — is usually buried inside some service agreement or product manual.
It remains to be seen where the new privacy boundaries will fall when everything you own is reporting back to its maker.