The next customer service revolution - when customer service is delivered via powerful and ubiquitous mobile Internet devices - is almost upon us. The days when telephone call centres reigned supreme are numbered.
Of all the benefits the Internet provides, perhaps the most important is the opportunity for customers to interface with all types of retail and business-to-business organisations on a mobile basis. We are moving into a world where, to quote IBM, computers are pervasive - that is, located wherever customers might need them.
Some such computers might come in the form of Wap phones, wristwatches that double as mobile telephones and provide e-mail access, and mobile digital entertainment devices that incorporate a telephone and Net access. Yet these mobile devices only comprise a small element of the sweeping Internet-driven revolution in customer service that is almost upon us.
After all, why shouldn't the machines which might be the subject of a customer service inquiry be automatically linked to manufacturers and service providers?
Why should you need to report a fault with your fridge, oven, microwave, etc? Why should these machines not have the facility to communicate details of the fault automatically? A fridge might even be able to communicate to a supermarket details of goods that need to be replenished.
This is what pervasive computing is all about - bringing the benefits of computer-delivered information to society in a way that may soon make even the so-called IT revolution of the past 30 years seem like the discovery of the wheel.
Matthew Rees is principal consultant with strategic e-business consultancy Charteris.