Ever step into a small-town “mom and pop” store? The owners seem to know everyone in the community, along with their individual needs, likes, dislikes, and current life situations.
It’s not easy to scale that kind of old-fashioned customer intimacy to a larger retail setting, online or off. But in the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, the same technology that is leading us headlong into the future may also help us take a step back. In the process, it may go far to improve customer experience and cement brand loyalty.
While IoE can’t conjure a kindly couple to help with a purchase, someday soon you may enter a store, bank branch, or car dealership and be guided through the steps of the process via your smart device. You’ll be greeted at the door with a personalized message. And while you’re browsing, talking to a salesperson, or engaging with an expert, you will receive content automatically to support your customer journey and your eventual buying decision. All of these suggestions will be rooted in your past purchases and browsing history, and reflect your individual needs, likes, dislikes, and current life situation (sound familiar?).
Like Cisco, we believe that human networks and technology can play a significant role in transforming people’s lives. At Grameen Foundation, our mission is to connect the world’s poor to their potential. Poor people are already resourceful, clever, and hard working. They have to be in order to survive. So imagine if we could connect their ingenuity to tools and information designed specifically with their needs in mind. In fact, we do that every day.
Here are four examples of the amazing things that happen when you connect the unconnected.
Connecting Poor People to Savings Accounts
Most banks don’t reach the rural poor to offer them a safe, convenient way to manage their savings. Grameen Foundation works with microfinance banks in India and the Philippines to offer mobile phone accessible microsavings products for the poor, reaching more than 800,000 households since 2010.
It’s hard to believe but it’s ten months since I first blogged on Cisco Domain TenSM, which is Cisco Service’s framework to guide you on your path to data center and cloud transformation. I’ve now covered all ten domains of this concise and powerful model. I’ll now collect all articles – including my most Cisco Domain Ten article around the breadth of SDN adoption challenges – into this one article as a useful summary. So forgive the brevity and please do dive into the links/URLs for more information if indeed you missed these articles first time. And if you’ve read every article and watched our VoDs, please do let me know what you thought of the series – oh, and thanks!
Going back, now, I started in December 2012, with our launch of Cisco Domain Ten, where I set the focus for my series of articles as cloud transformation. Let me summarize each article with (and for those that know me you’ll know this is a struggle ) just one sentence with the key message from each blog/domain.
The Internet of Everything is a big thing, and it’s going to get bigger. As more devices, sensors, gadgets, and people get interconnected, you’ll hear more and more about it. But there’s one aspect of the Internet of Everything that I don’t hear a lot about.
That aspect is security, both in the form of actual security and the sense of security.
Let’s go back to the mid-1980s, when I got my start with computers. You could finally buy one and make it useful at home without being a programmer or a soldering wiz. Pre-packaged software was available to do all sorts of useful things, but the thing that stood out for me was financial software. You know, Sylvia Porter, Multiplan, or whatever worked with your brand of computer. (I was a weird kid; I even did mock tax returns in middle school civics class for extra credit.)
But there were a lot of people who would not think of doing their finances on their home computer, for fear of being hacked or having their identity and their money stolen electronically.
Now anyone who’s had a credit card replaced because their account information was compromised will know this is a valid concern, at times. But some of these folks using Quicken on their monochrome Macintosh 512 without any connection to the outside world were convinced that hackers would get in, perhaps through the power line (way before powerline Ethernet adapters).
It took the personal financial software industry (and the PC industry as a whole) a while to overcome the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) surrounding their products, to the point where people were comfortable storing their personal/sensitive information on a personal computer, connected or not. Fast forward to today when, according to Pew Research, over half of us bank online and about a third bank on our mobile phones.
As more people start to see what the Internet of Everything is about, they’re going to be excited, and eager to get involved. But they’re also going to have concerns and fears about all of this interconnectedness, and what it means for their privacy and security.
You’re not going to want hackers to make your fridge shut down, for example. But we shouldn’t cry over spoilt milk that isn’t necessarily going to happen.
There will be some genuine security issues, at least as long as humans are writing the code (and the documentation), but I expect there will be more fears of issues than actual issues. It’s like wars and rumors of wars. They can both be dangerous, but we can each take an active role in dealing with the latter.
As for me, I’m watching for where interconnectedness is growing fastest, and getting an elevator pitch ready to calm the nerves of my less-technical friends, coworkers, neighbors, the woman behind the counter at Five Guys, my landlord, etc.
Now I’m off to recharge my Pebble and Fitbit for the week, and make sure my unconnected fridge hasn’t turned itself off yet. But before I go…
What are you doing to prepare for the Internet of Everything? And where do you think the most FUD will come from? I’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions in the comments below
Every day, we’re bombarded with seemingly unsolvable issues — health care crises, struggling schools, poverty, and climate change are just a few. These issues may at first seem too big for any of us to solve. But in today’s technology-driven world, we actually have more power than ever.
The growth and convergence of people, process, data, and things on the Internet — the Internet of Everything — is making networked connections more valuable than ever before, creating unprecedented opportunities to bring about social good.