Smarter TV Shows, Farms, and Ties: Customer Innovation at Impact
Jacqi Levy 270003E0DF JALEVY@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  ibmimpact iot internet_of_things
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Customers respond when they believe companies are listening to them. During this morning’s IBM Impact session, three different stories illustrated how and why we should listen to our customers – and be willing to adjust accordingly.
Be Bold: Anticipate Customer Desires
This morning, Kevin Spacey’s fantastic keynote – the highlight of the conference – challenged us to anticipate customer needs and move quickly. As he noted, when shopping “House of Cards,” each studio wanted to see a traditional pilot before committing. But “House of Cards” didn’t have a traditional quick start in which all the characters and key plot lines are introduced in the first episode. Netflix was willing to take a chance on something different, a disruptive model of developing and releasing a scripted series.
“Technology is empowering the consumer,” Spacey said, noting that audiences have wanted to “binge” since the days of the Gutenberg press. Netflix had the courage to respond to this consumer demand and take a major risk that has paid off. “We need to find the courage to keep taking risks,” Spacey urged, reminding us that those who stay a step ahead of their audiences will reap the rewards. He contrasted the Netflix model with the music industry, saying, “Give customers what they want, when they want it, at a reasonable price, and they’ll pay for it.”
Smarter Irrigation with the Internet of Things
Earlier in the keynote, Lance Donny, CEO and Founder of OnFarm, shared how his company is leveraging big data to anticipate the greatest consumer need: adequate food. As the population grows, food production will need to double in coming decades. Right now, 3.8 billion acres are farmed by 525 farmers worldwide, using 70% of all available fresh water. To stay ahead of consumer demand, farmers need to get smarter about how they plant and use resources. Connected devices, like sensors that monitor soil moisture and adjust irrigation accordingly, offer a wealth of possibility. According to Donny, farms will have 2 billion connected devices by 2020, and 20 billion by 2035. By integrating data into a dashboard, farmers can tailor what they need – and what they don’t.
About 40% of Georgia’s Flint River Basin land is used for agriculture, totaling 1 million acres of cropland. Given periodic droughts and other environmental concerns, local farmers are using OnFarm to save 15% of their annual irrigation water. This translates to 50 billion gallons a year, or enough to supply the 10 largest cities across Georgia. Meanwhile, farmers see improved yields and higher profits.
Bringing Good Ideas to Life with Composable Business
As IBM Fellow Jerry Cuomo built a real-time business using a sensor-enabled tie, he stressed, “Innovation is a partnership between your good ideas and the world’s good ideas.” Using BlueMix, Cuomo demonstrated how you can easily apply logic and data to various screens, composing an app in real time that suits your customer’s needs. On the fly, he built an app to tie his daily fitness to rewards, adjusting the parameters when needed.
“Composable business is not in the distant future,” he concluded. “It’s here today. We’ve given you all the tools.”
By listening to your customers, anticipating their needs, building, and iterating quickly, you can stay ahead of the curve – and delight your customers. So be bold, take risks, and, as Spacey concluded, “Place your bet on those who never settle. Place your bet on those who are never afraid to take a chance.”
And that, combined with yesterday’s mantras to play, move quickly, and beat the grind, are messages we can apply every single day.