Friday, March 9, 2018

Knowledge is Power: The Internet of Things

Image result for internet of things cartoon image

The world is about to change--whether it's for the better for for the worse remains to be seen.  But we'd better be ready for it.  Let's look at an example of what this is all about.
My sales company represents a manufacturer of a product that measures liquid levels in above ground petroleum storage tanks.  Each of these product monitors contains a cellular "SIM" card and is, in essence, a cell phone, with a motherboard, antenna--just like the scale in the cartoon above (except that the scale has a speaker).  The monitor reads the level in the tank and sends the information via the cell system to a data center.  The software in the data center interprets the data and sends email or text alerts as needed to the company dispatchers.  If you buy into the whole system, the dispatcher's job can also be "robotized" and everything from reading the tank level to dispatching the tank truck could be handled in the software.  This is the "internet of things"; this is the future.  And business owners who adopt products like this one are adding tremendous efficiencies and dollars of profit.  But there's one thing that bots lack:

Image result for image "common sense"

Billionaire, Paul Allen, of Microsoft fame, has just put up $125M to see if there is some way to inject common sense into these bots.  Researchers have spent decades trying to figure out how to program common sense into robots--unsuccessfully.
So, what do we bring to the sales process--or rather, what SHOULD we bring to the sales process that will keep us from being replaced by bots: common sense, of course, and deep product knowledge.
What exactly does it mean to have common sense?  Common sense means having wisdom, insight and awareness.  These are not teachable attributes.  If you're passionate about what you sell and you believe in what you sell, and you care about your customer and how your product provides a solution, then common sense is embedded into your brain. Common sense comes from experience, knowledge and observation.  These are the attributes that a good salesperson must have to be successful: common sense and deep product knowledge.  Everyone has met sales folks who could be replaced by a bot--someone with superficial product knowledge and no common sense.  Make sure you're not one of those.

Image result for image "the bottom line"

Many things are going to be sold by bots--assisted by chatbots.  They make businesses operate more efficiently and productively.  As salespeople, we have to recognize the future and make sure we understand how it will impact us.  That being said, there are thousands of products that will be sold that involve an intricate knowledge of the product and the subtleties of application--that require common sense.  Chatbots will help us locate potential customers and perhaps even narrow down the most likely candidates for our product.  And bots will be part of the products that we sell in the future.  But bots will not replace a good salesperson--a person with deep product knowledge and the common sense to apply that knowledge.
Another final example of how the internet of things will be part of everything we sell and we need to understand how to use it.  Industrial air compressors used in manufacturing now ship with data gathering modules that send information via cell towers to service houses so that they can spot problems before they occur or schedule maintenance based on hours of usage.  Compressor manufacturers that don't build units with these modules will lose out on sales because customers want to make sure that these key components of manufacturing don't break down and IoT (the internet of things) helps to resolve these issues.
Internet of Things: Digitize or Die: Transform your organization. Embrace the digital evolution. Rise above the competition. by [Windpassinger, Nicolas]I highly recommend "Digitize or Die" by Nicolas Windpassinger, with an introduction by Jean-Pascal Tricoire, president of Schneider Electric.
The internet of things will revolutionize our lives in much the same way that the telephone, television, airplane and computer did. 

Don't fight it.  Understand it.

Please feel free to comment or make suggestions for future posts.