The Impacts of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the Contact Center

With more and more devices enabled to communicate across the internet, SOFTEL takes a look at what’s around the corner for the modern contact center – and how the emerging world of IoT is likely to impact operational areas;

IoT Device Diagnostics

One of the main reasons for applying IoT to a device is that it allows for independent monitoring.  Whether security, health or logistics, devices can be enabled to report a status which may require either automated or manual intervention.  Almost like the self-service options on an IVR, diagnostics and responses will be required in line with those interactions and alerts.  However – unlike human interactions – the need for those types of interactions will be constant.  Where today a caller, consumer or customer may make contact on an ad-hoc basis, IoT devices will require continual monitoring – 24/7.  That requires a rethink on how a contact center operates and how it will provide services, interactions, interventions and actions to counter the demands of IoT.

Device Experts and SME’s

Today the role and remit of a front office contact center agent can be generalized, with subject matter experts holding positions in a back office, supporting role.  The introduction of IoT to the contact center turns those roles on their head.  Consider the vast amount of information that can be gathered and presented by a smartphone – and then how that very specific information needs to be dealt with.  An agent without expertise in that area suddenly has no purpose.  Everybody needs to be an expert!

Proactive and Pre-Emptive Monitoring

An IoT device is capable of providing much more in-depth information than “simple” human interactions such as voice or multimedia.  Where today a set criterion might be maintained for interactions (the “workflow” or “script”), contact centers for IoT will become proactive, based on the “feed” from an IoT device.  Where IoT indicates a set of rules or criteria have been met/matched, a secondary set of rules may be invoked.  And, over time, the inclusion of Big Data Analytics (BDA) will allow for a wider diagnostic of devices, leading to real-time pre-emptive actions.  Consider a “White goods” device, such as a tumble dryer or washing machine; having on-board diagnostics and IoT means it can determine when a part needs replacing – and order it!

Wearables and Personal Health Monitoring

A massive leap forwards with IoT has to be wearables.  From personal health monitoring to extended services which allows for medical experts to remotely monitor patients for very specific needs.  But where does the contact center fit in?  Quite simply as the first point of contact and support for the IoT device, through operational monitoring.  A medical expert can perform diagnostics with the information provided – but the device itself has to be maintained and working for that to happen.  Another role for the contact center.

Conclusions

IoT is no longer a “future technology” – it is a standard method of interaction.  The same as voice, video, web chat, self-service, inbound, outbound, workflow and all of the other operational aspects of a modern contact center, IoT will have its place.  And, whether it is through business drivers or operational necessities – the convergence of IoT communications and operations within a contact center uses the same processes and technologies.  The tools and work streams already exist to take on this new interaction channel and the operations required to support the data flows are in place, too.  Growing a contact center to include IoT as a channel of interaction is not only feasible – it actually makes sense!