Crossing the chasm for the Internet of Things

“Crossing the Chasm” is one of my favorite business books of all times. Geoffrey Moore describes the lifecycle of new technology adoption that, by now, should be familiar to everyone in high tech. One of the key points in the book is that there is a chasm in adoption between innovators and early adopters on the one side and the majority of users on the other side. In fact, in order to cross this chasm and achieve widespread adoption, a different way of marketing, selling and supporting the new technology is required.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the connected home, in particular, might now be facing this chasm. There are solid predictions that the IoT market is taking off and tens of billions of IoT devices will be deployed by 2020 – with at least half of them directly involving end consumers. For instance, Gartner predicts that 25 billion IoT connected devices will be installed by 2020. At the same time, industry analyst firm Parks Associates reports that 39% of consumers are experiencing problems with various smart home devices, and approximately 10% are experiencing more than one problem with each device. 

Such findings highlight the chasm between the early adopters of connected home technologies and the majority of households that are now next in line to buy these technologies. Parks Associates estimates that 40% of US broadband households are planning to buy a smart home product in the next 12 months. This chasm reflects the fact that we are transitioning from the tech-savvy initial IoT buyer to the less technologically adept one. It also reflects that IoT solutions themselves are transitioning from premium to mainstream purchases.

Here are five key areas that the IoT world (both businesses and consumers) needs to address in order to cross this chasm: Interoperability – It is still the case that despite multiple standards, IoT devices don’t talk well to each other. This limits the potential for new and exciting uses. Imagine your smart thermostat talking to your smart lock, or to smart sensors throughout your house, or to your connected vehicle and GPS (even though each device might be from a different provider) – in order to know when the house is empty so as to regulate temperature and achieve energy savings without your intervention. Different connectivity standards exist and are optimized for bandwidth, range or power consumption, but there is still some way to go for easy inter-connectivity across devices supporting different standards. In essence, the interoperability issue should not be viewed from the individual device perspective, but rather requires a more holistic view at a platform or hub level.

Security – IoT devices are perceived to be very personal because they can control access into our homes. And this obviously raises a lot of concerns about security. The scenario of someone hacking into a connected home’s security system (many of which are now online) and disabling security settings is a scary one. Or the idea of someone hacking into our smart phone that now drives both our virtual and physical world is no less scary. Recently, a team of security experts hacked into a Jeep vehicle as it was driving down the highway and brought it to a stop as part of a controlled experiment. How security is handled at the edge as well as in the cloud, and what mechanisms are available to safeguard against security breaches – or contain them when they happen – will be an ongoing (and difficult) effort. In the IoT, technology will be more pervasive, so the impact of security breaches will be much large 

Privacy – This is another important one. IoT devices can collect a lot of data that is sensitive at its very core, because it’s data about our lives. How individuals are identified, how devices are identified, how the collected data is treated in the cloud, and how transparent vendors and service providers are about the use of the data they collect, are all very serious issues. Although collecting data is key to vendors understanding customer behaviors and providing better use cases, consumers are very aware about their privacy when at home. And rightly so. At the same time, consumers need to be more careful and diligent when reviewing the fine print in the Terms & Conditions of these new products and services. Consumers should also understand that the person agreeing to the terms might be only one of the household members using the technology. According to a brand new survey by CABA, consumers view loss of privacy as the second greatest barrier (behind cost) to purchasing connected home products.

Support – The general idea is that IoT devices are meant to be very easy to connect, configure and use. However, they are also increasingly complex, which means that the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) model does not work as often as expected. What happens if the installation is complete but the solution does not work as planned? It is said that consumers have about 20 minutes of patience for learning to put a new technology to use. If they can’t get the technology to work within this time, they either return it or put it aside. For the connected home to succeed, these early customer experiences have to be successful for the consumers, and cushion set-up, configuration and use with access to meaningful, proactive, ongoing support (regardless of whether the solution was a professional install or a self install). These early customer experiences will influence buyers’ satisfaction and loyalty and – most importantly to the brands – their intention to adopt and use additional connected devices in their connected home.

Personalization – IoT devices are fully expected to adapt to our needs and become part of solutions that bring clear and tangible value to our lives. If we anticipate these devices to become mainstream, these expectations must be met, and met fully. But the true value is in the connections between these devices, rather than in the devices themselves. The inter-connectivity is what will enable truly personalized solutions for each household and each consumer. There are a couple of points to make about this. The first one is around the user interface to control these inter-connected devices. In the short- to medium-term future, it is unlikely that there will be a single interface concept to control all devices. At the same time, it is also unlikely that there will be a universal way to seek and receive customer service and support; instead this will be fragmented between communication service providers, device manufacturers, and specialized retailers. These trends may limit the initial potential for a truly personalized customer experience across solutions.

The connected home can be a smart home too. Fortunately, the market is learning quickly, and providers are starting to realize what and where the gaps are and how to address them. The IoT is opening amazing new opportunities for new consumer experiences. If we succeed in supporting both the early adopters and the majority that follows, at whatever stages and in whatever forms they prefer, we are in for quite a ride. – See more at: http://www.support.com/crossing-the-chasm-for-the-internet-of-things/#sthash.rfYsAOcp.dpuf

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the connected home, in particular, might now be facing this chasm. There are solid predictions that the IoT market is taking off and tens of billions of IoT devices will be deployed by 2020 – with at least half of them directly involving end consumers. For instance, Gartner predicts that 25 billion IoT connected devices will be installed by 2020. At the same time, industry analyst firm Parks Associates reports that 39% of consumers are experiencing problems with various smart home devices, and approximately 10% are experiencing more than one problem with each device. Such findings highlight the chasm between the early adopters of connected home technologies and the majority of households that are now next in line to buy these technologies. Parks Associates estimates that 40% of US broadband households are planning to buy a smart home product in the next 12 months. This chasm reflects the fact that we are transitioning from the tech-savvy initial IoT buyer to the less technologically adept one. It also reflects that IoT solutions themselves are transitioning from premium to mainstream purchases. Here are five key areas that the IoT world (both businesses and consumers) needs to address in order to cross this chasm: – See more at: http://www.support.com/crossing-the-chasm-for-the-internet-of-things/#sthash.qDmVxGO2.dpuf


The Evolution of Customer Engagement (And How It’s Changing Everything)

How do you measure customer engagement? If you’re like most marketers, it’s all about the revenue. And while revenue is important, much of what we think about customer engagement is changing considerably.

For example, according to a recent report by eMarketer, most executives look at metrics like clicks, conversions, shares and traffic as prime indicators – but these metrics can’t really measure engagement per se and nor can they measure a customer’s satisfaction with the service they received.

In fact, just look at how marketers view the shifting customer service landscape:



Nearly half of those surveyed felt that they needed to better align with sales and support to deliver a complete customer experience. But how exactly do you do this? Looking at three of the more considerable metrics on the chart above reveals some insights when it comes to personalization, filtering and what information is collected about customers (and what information they choose to share).

The Signal-to-Noise Ratio

It’s evident from the graphic that customers are now available and open to receiving information than ever before. But for the uninitiated company, this doesn’t mean simply “throw out all the advertising you can at them and hope some of it sticks.” People are tired of being marketed to like brainless zombies, and instead want their business to be valued. They want to share their experiences with friends on social media and rave about the latest deals or what fantastic service they got.

BUT – and this is a big one – customers don’t want to be babysat. They don’t want to be reminded for the umpteenth time to leave a review about the cat litter they just bought. Nor do they want to be doggedly followed from site to site showing ads for that lingerie they were looking at. They want less noise and more tailored offers, personalized to their tastes.

Importance Versus Satisfaction

In customer service, a lot of effort goes into explaining (and looking for ways to create) “memorable moments”. These are moments where the customer shopping experience was so good/timely/affordable that they can’t help but remember it.

Now, it’s important to note that a customer isn’t going to have a memorable experience every single time they shop. But looking at these experience (and their relative levels of importance) is a good way to set and manage customer experiences.





Imagine for a moment if expectations were low, but experience was high. A customer might remember that moment, right? And conversely, if expectations were high and experience low – a customer will definitely remember it – and likely tell others.

Being able to accurately pinpoint where (on the map) the customer interacts with the company and how to make these points as even as possible is the “sweet spot” every company – whether you’re selling lingerie, or cat litter – needs to aim for.

Physical Versus Emotional Variables

There are a lot of core physical variables that customers look for no matter what they’re buying. Things like:

  • Functionality (does it work as intended)
  • Time (is it easy to set up/use)
  • Attractiveness / Cleanliness
  • Environment (the ambience of the store / website)

These are all physical points that you can control to some extent. Interjecting emotional value into physical points broadens the overall customer experience into so much more. Love it or hate it, you know when you’re entering a Hollister store. The dark lights, the music, and even the smell.

That’s not to say that all customer experiences should be 100% sensory only. But making them feel things in connection to shopping online (the excitement of getting a branded package from Amazon.com, for instance), greatly heightens their satisfaction and in effect, doing business with you.

Tying Customer Experiences to Measurable Goals

Here’s the real question: How do you measure something as intangible as customer experience? Sure, the aforementioned metrics are a good place to start, as is overall customer satisfaction levels –but they don’t paint a complete picture.

It’s vital when considering customer experiences as a whole that you look at the areas where improvements can always be made – such as:

  • How easy it is to find information
  • How to get help when they need it
  • How their personal data is being collected and used
  • Appealing, interesting content




This marketing matrix, from the Customer Experience (Spain) shows how you can tie those improvements to overall goals to make real progress toward your customer engagement improvement initiatives. This will give you concrete milestones to work from as you keep improving your process. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually, you’ll be able to see impactful improvements to metrics like time-on-site, lower bounce rates, social shares and other measurable points.

And if you’re not getting the kind of results you’d hoped for, don’t be afraid to make changes and shift with the changing customer experience tides. People are rightfully expecting a lot more out of the companies they’re most loyal to, but companies aren’t afraid to take some risks and step up to the place to align themselves with their customers’ needs too.

The bottom line is always going to be to look at what your data is telling you. Draw meaningful conclusions, but don’t doggedly cling to it. We’re all human, and sometimes unpredictable and wavering in what we really want from a brand.

But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In an August 2015 survey from Ovum and Opinium Research LLP, nearly 81% of the customers surveyed reported that the issue [which would give them the greatest positive experience with a brand] would be to simply have their questions answered. That’s not asking for a lot, is it? They’ve set the bar incredibly low – presenting the perfect opportunity for smart companies to not just meet their expectations but exceed them.


Google Fiber eyes Chicago and L.A.

Google Fiber could be coming to Chicago and Los Angeles, where more than 6 million people live, Google announced Tuesday.

The company invited the two cities to get the 1Gbps service, then plans to work with city leaders to collect detailed information on factors that would affect construction, such as topography and city streets.

Networks technology internet

“While we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to bring Fiber to Chicago and L.A., this is a big step for these cities and leaders,” said Jill Szuchmacher, director of Google Fiber Expansion, in the blog.

Google Fiber currently serves three metro areas: Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri), Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah. Six more cities are listed by Google as “upcoming” Fiber cities and 11 others are potential cities, including L.A. and Chicago.

Those two cities would be the largest metros for Google Fiber. “Whether it’s filmmaking or entrepreneurship or more abundant bandwidth at home, Chicago and L.A. are the perfect cities to show us what’s possible with gigabit Internet,” Szuchmacher said.

Google’s announcement follows by one day the news from AT&T that it plans to expand GigaPower 1Gbps fiber to 38 more cities for a total of 58 cities. GigaPower was launched in Los Angeles on Monday and had previously been available in Chicago and nearby cities. AT&T’s first city was Austin, Texas, starting about two years ago.

High-speed Internet access to homes and small businesses is considered a key to a city’s economic development. Cities without it will be at a competitive disadvantage, said Jeffrey Kagan, an independent analyst.


Facebook building a 100-gigabit switch to keep up with video, VR traffic

acebook is more than doubling the speed of its Wedge open-source network switch, which is good news both for Facebook users and for anyone who may want to build a 100-gigabit switch.

The Wedge sits at the top of a rack of servers to connect them to Facebook’s network. It was announced in June 2014, and thousands are already deployed in the company. Plus, the social network made the design of the Wedge open source so other manufacturers could build switches like it.

Networking server data centre

However, less than two years later, the 40-Gigabit Ethernet ports in the original Wedge are proving no match for the fast-growing traffic on Facebook’s network. To keep up, the company is now developing a version of the switch with 100-Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. It gave more details in a blog post but hasn’t said when the new switches will be ready.

Much of the traffic in Facebook’s data centers is just among the company’s own switches. But it’s growing along with much more bandwidth-intensive content on the social network, including big video files and virtual-reality content like 360-degree videos that Facebook recently introduced.

“Whenever there is capacity, people will build stuff to consume it,” said Jay Parikh, vice president of global engineering and infrastructure, at the Structure conference in San Francisco on Thursday. Facebook says it has more powerful servers, and more of them, than it did when the first Wedge was introduced. As many as four servers can be hooked up to each port of the Wedge.

The Wedge 100 will have 32 100G ports, the same maximum number as on today’s Wedge but all at the higher speed. Like the current switch, it has a non-blocking design, meaning that it can fully feed all of its ports at the same time if necessary. Thus the total capacity of the Wedge 100 is 3.2Tbps.

Facebook designs its own switches and writes its own software for them because it wants the flexibility to meet its own rapidly developing needs. In addition to the Wedge, earlier this year it introduced the 6-pack, a modular switch for connecting server racks to each other. The 6-pack is based on the Wedge and can have as many as 128 40-gigabit ports. Facebook has also developed its own data-center network design.

What Facebook invents in network hardware, it makes available for others to use. At least one vendor, Accton, already sells a customizable top-of-rack switch based on the 40-gigabit Wedge. The design has been accepted by the Open Compute Project, which Facebook founded in 2011 to share open-source hardware designs. It also plans to share the Wedge 100′s design.

The company uses an internally developed OS, called FBOSS, on its own switches. But it has also joined up with Big Switch Networks to offer an open-source network operating system called Open Network Linux for others to use.

The advent of so-called “white box” networking gear based on open hardware and software could trickle down from giant IT shops like Facebook to provide enterprises with an alternative to traditional systems from companies like Cisco Systems. But Cisco says its overall architecture costs customers less in the long run.



Why sell abroad?

An online business looking to expand will naturally open up to selling abroad. The first and arguably most difficult step is deciding which country to enter. Understandably, certain countries are more culturally similar to your home country (e.g., you may share the same language) and should be your first choice. However, there are other deciding factors. Read on to learn about the starting points to consider as you step onto the global onlinestage.

Black and white photo of Paris

  1. Cultural research

Every culture has its own habits, characteristics, values and principles. Understanding the consumer of the country in question is integral. Their values, preferences and needs will determine your site’s content, how you choose your products and any communications with your customer base — essentially, your entire eCommerce strategy. Are these consumers price sensitive? Do they expect free shipping? Do they tend to abandon their carts? What kind of customer service do they expect?  Have you researched local holidays and cultural sensitivities around imagery and metaphors? All of these points will help you tailor your customer experience and make a positive mark on local shoppers.

  1. Language

This may seem obvious, but perfect language is key to connecting with locals. Certain pages are of particular importance, such as payment pages — confusion at this stage can certainly lead to cart abandonment.

  1. The competition

What better way to learn about a new market than looking at the competition. What are they doing right? What kind of feedback are they receiving? You want to stay on top of current and future local trends.

  1. Payment habits

Preferred payment methods differ between countries. Some are credit card-centric, others go for debit cards or online payment sites such as PayPal. Some users don’t feel comfortable filling out credit card numbers online, while others don’t hesitate. Spanish consumers, for example, tend to not fully trust online payments and rather choose cash on delivery.

  1. Shipping

Running a successful international eCommerce business requires an in depth understanding of logistics and local geography. Is delivery more common to homes or drop-off points? Certain areas may not provide the same standards of delivery as others, some may even be known for their notoriously unreliable services.

  1. Social media and online marketing

Understanding local usage of social media is invaluable. Are users social media savvy? Connecting with users on their platforms of choice can do wonders for your business, instantly creating increased brand awareness. You should also look for opportunities to post banner ads, get sponsored content and appear on price/product comparison sites to increase local exposure.

  1. Google AdWords

Initially, when you enter new territory, you’re not going to have a strong organic following on Google. A great tool to help improve your ranking isGoogle AdWords. Identify local keywords and go from there, to increase online visibility.

Image for moving your ecommerce business abroad

Certain countries adopt online shopping habits faster than others, so you must be careful when deciding which foreign markets to enter. In certain markets, the trend of buying online may be growing and you could jump on at the right moment, while other markets may be saturated with similar products to yours and should be avoided.

The key to your success is having a good reason for entering a particular market and ensuring you have the ability to adapt your business to its cultural standards. This applies to all elements of your business, such as  design, language, product, online promotional strategies such as Google AdWords, shipping and payment options.


Why your café needs a POS system

Perhaps you’ve been running your café successfully with only a pen and paper for years — and it works. Have you been using an old-fashioned cash register without any issue? Maybe an older POS system did the trick.

While there are many ways to successfully go about something, there are certain ways to improve the efficiency of your business and work in a streamlined fashioned. A modern, cloud-based POS system could help you manage your business day to day, so you can focus on growing and delivering exceptional customer service.

How can a cloud-based POS system help your café or bakery grow?

Create your ideal setup
Take payments wherever you are! With integrated credit card payments offered by POS systems like Lightspeed, you can print customizable receipts and finalize bills from your iPhone or iPad — in your café, terrace, market stand, kiosk or even food truck.

Lightspeed adapts to your way of running things. Take orders at the counter or table with an iPad or iPhone/iPhone touch, or create a more traditional counter setup.

Offer superior service and get to know your customers better
Give your customers the freedom to pay as they prefer. Depending on your payment processor, you can take cash, debit, credit card — even Apple Pay!

A POS system that allows you to print customizable receipts also allows you to build closer relationships with your customers. You can include anything you like on your receipts, such as QR codes linking to your website or Facebook page, or messages about upcoming specials.

Make well-informed menu and business decisions
Update your menu based on the information you gather from your POS. A cloud-based POS system with reporting features lets you track inventory, determine top sellers and analyze profits, giving you the tools to make the business decisions needed to move forward.

Don’t worry about losing information
With a cloud-based POS system, you’ll always have access to your menus, reports and sales data. Lightspeed POS also offers back-up 4G/LTE and offline server solutions to ensure you don’t run into any issues.

Link the front-end and back-end staff
When orders are taken on an iPad or iPhone, they’re sent directly to the kitchen (or anywhere else you choose), ensuring orders are completed quickly.

Save space with a modern POS
Lightspeed Restaurant’s POS doesn’t take much counter space — a printer, cash drawer and an iPad or iPhone are all you need to take orders and run your business.