The evolution of modern technology in the past 10 years is astounding: our mobile phones are becoming smarter by the second, our online behavior is revealing more about human nature and our wearable technology knows more about our general well-being than our family doctor.
This adoption of technology into almost every facet of our life will surely define this epoch as the digital era. We have been talking about the Internet of Things (IoT) for many years now, these “things” being all sorts of connected devices. Gartner predicted that, by the end of this year, 5.5 million new devices will be connected to the Internet. And each device is creating data at an exponential rate (2.5 quintillion bytes every single day in fact!).
This is an exciting time for the technology user: in the near future, we can expect autonomous driving to become part of our automotive experience (with Tesla’s autopilot systemalready taking a huge leap in this direction). Built-in connectivity as well as vehicle-to-vehicle communication will become standard features.
Tech giants like Samsung and LG have already created Wi-Fi controlled smart appliances with other home appliance companies likely to follow suit. Imagine being able to unlock your door with just a swipe on your smart phone, or your smart fridge suggesting a recipe for your dinner according to the ingredients you have in your kitchen – and now, imagine this possibility 10 years ago!
The more we evolve in the digital-era, the more we will expect as the customer. There will become a point where it will not be enough that our wearable technology tells us how many calories we have burnt or how many steps we should take to stay on top of our target. We will expect our wearable technology to provide us personal exercise plans that fit around our current schedule, our eating habits and our preferred type of exercise (having already connected and synced up with our online agenda and our smart kitchen of course.)
From a business perspective, this is a challenging time. As Brian Hopkins, Principal Analyst at Forrester explained, “It’s the age of the customer. The rising level of customer expectations is the driving force of business today”. In order to stay ahead of the game, they need to have a 360-degree view of the data of each and every customer in their database.
In the past, many companies relied on their CRM systems and their data warehouses to give them insight into their customers. It has become clear in recent years however, that these old methods of collecting and analyzing data are not sufficient to support the growing interactions occurring outside of these systems. For example, unstructured data sources such as social media, email interactions and other apps are not accounted for in traditional data architectures and therefore result in a less than complete view of the customer.
Companies have therefore turned to current technologies like data virtualization specifically to help them build a more complete view of their customers. Data virtualization permits the aggregation of data from CRM systems, data warehouses, unstructured sources, smart analytics and any other source which may house supplementary information about your customer. All this data is then available to the data consumer in real-time from a single data layer.
As IoT continues to expand with the adoption of smart appliances and connected devices (with each device continuing to produce data at an exponential rate), companies that want to be smart should adopt data virtualization to create 360 degree views of their customers in order to keep them satisfied.