It’s time to say goodbye to markets based entirely on physical products. Welcome to the new normal, the “as-a-service era.”
This irreversible process is called servitization: a transformation where most physical products’ value is increased by the addition of companion services. These new services help companies attract more customers and create a cyber-physical ecosystem of interacting products and services. When servitization meets ICT, we accelerate pervasive digitization—a phenomenon that is changing the world of business.
Here’s an example: Last year, Cisco’s team in Italy worked with Sofia Locks, a leading maker of access control systems, to integrate Cisco Spark APIs with Sofia’s smart locks and Jago cloud technology platform. The result is a powerful blending of physical product with digital capabilities. It’s a flexible and secure cloud-based access control system that turns your smartphone into a digital key.
Leveraging Cisco’s Spark collaboration capabilities, Sofia has created a “rapid chat user support” service that enables secure, flexible on-demand access control for customers in several different use-case scenarios. Using the Cisco Spark interface, support technicians can send commands such as, “request a new access grant” or “open this specific door for this specific user at this specific time” via secure chat. This customized access increases convenience for users and saves time for support staff.
Smart work places: Today, work processes are more collaborative and transient than ever before, with workers using flexible workspaces on an as-needed basis. With the Sofia-Cisco solution, access to workspaces is as flexible as the work itself. Suppose that a guest in a co-working space wants to book a meeting room. She simply opens the Cisco Spark app, chats with the Meeting Room bot and books the room. The process ends with a virtual key sent to the user so that she can enter directly with her smartphone.
The result: Less time spent at reception, no more badges, very fast selling.
Smart infrastructures: Think about the typical electrical or network infrastructure, with countless equipment cabinets spread across a large facility. Managing keys for all of these cabinets can be a true nightmare. Sofia and Cisco are collaborating to solve this issue. A technician needing to access a cabinet in case of emergency will not have to worry about having the physical key. With Cisco Spark he will ask the control room for the right to access a specific door via chat, and receive the corresponding virtual key in real time.
The result: No more costs for key management or key delivery.
Hospitality: Hotels and bed-and-breakfasts can now offer better service to their customers while reducing their direct management costs. Imagine a traveller whose flight has been delayed and is standing at the door of his B&B without a key at 3:00 AM. The customer uses a mobile app to request access to his room. Customer Care receives the request, uses Cisco Spark to confirm the user’s reservation and room number, and requests access through the Jago cloud platform.
The result: Tired traveller can enter the room immediately, without waiting for a physical key.
Physical keys and badges have a huge impact on operations costs. Thanks to Cisco and Sofia Locks, organizations can drastically reduce the impact of such expenses by virtualizing all keys. Moreover, virtual keys are digital, meaning they can be transferred via secure chats. The process of key generation and assignment can be completely automated by software, increasing the efficiency of your organization.
Together, Sofia Locks and Cisco Spark demonstrate how cloud-based digital technologies can be the key to innovation and productivity.
About the authors: Anna Testa is part of Cisco’s digitization team in Italy, and Alessandro Nacci is CEO of Sofia Locks.