Without CRM, IoT is just sound and fury, signifying little

This is a guest blogpost by Larry Augustin, CEO, SugarCRM

In a world in which Samsung has launched a refrigerator that connects via a mass-market IoT (Internet of Things) hub to your smartphone it’s time to recognise that we’ve arrived at a point that even the most amateur soothsayers within the IT industry have known has been fast approaching for some time.

Namely, and forgive the rather clunky turn of phrase, the Internet of Things is now a thing.

Not that that we’ve quite reached the moment where all of your fellow commuters on their way home are nudging their oven temperatures that little bit higher from their smartphones to ensure a perfectly cooked lasagne on their arrival, although some may well be turning on their heating or even running a bath. However, with companies the size and clout of Samsung and Amazon, as well as fresher, newer brands such as the Apple-esque Nest (quickly snapped up by the always prescient Google), ploughing significant amounts of their profits into IoT technology then we’ve undoubtedly crested the hill of acceptance and are now galloping down the other side with gathering speed.

New technologies do of course bring new challenges but in the case of IoT these challenges are not, generally speaking, for the consumer: even the most wilfully recalcitrant technology user can grasp the principle of controlling a device remotely (the TV remote being a usefully ubiquitous analogy). However, for the companies that employ IoT technologies within their offerings then the challenges can be legion.  The most obvious of these is also the one that’s in most pressing need of an elegant solution, namely a way of shining a light through the digital fug of a billion devices generating, sharing and saving data by the millisecond.

Terabytes of data are only useful in the business world if you’ve a means to make sense of them. CRM solutions are of course an obvious, if not entirely comprehensive, part of this sense-making process and they can be very powerful when deployed in support of an IoT network. Imagine you make your living selling photocopiers and you’re plugged into a system that sends you an alert that toner’s low; you’re then primed to send a replacement cartridge even before your customer knows that they need it. This is frictionless commerce and also a frictionless relationship with your customer.  And friction in this context is nobody’s friend.

However, not every CRM solution is necessarily a match for the rigours of sense-making in the IoT world. Businesses relying purely on a fixed SaaS model are finding that they are ill-quipped to manage the required scales of data and performance. Perhaps IoT will be the anvil that breaks the camel’s back of the systems based on infrastructure created in the late 1990s?