The IoT Customers Are Coming. Are You Ready?

As smart homes and wearable technology grow in popularity and more items become “connected,” the Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to be more of, well, a thing. Up 30% from 2015, it’s expected that 6.4 billion connected things will be used worldwide this year. Wow.

With this boom in IoT advancement, we’re sure to see some priority shifts for the competitive carrier industry. As customers process what it means to be connected, carriers will have to keep up with new demands. Are you ready?

Here are four things you can do to prepare for the growth of the IoT.

1. Know your customers: As you consider the best ways to leverage your data and network to IoT-savvy customers, you must first understand exactly who that customer is. For example, there’s a big diff erence between private consumers and business consumers as far as what they need from a carrier. And if you’re dealing with enterprises, your customers are going to need multinetwork connectivity and more integration. Knowing up front what your target customers are after can help you formalize your plans, product offerings, and solutions faster and earlier than your competitors.

2. Provide flexible solutions: Knowing what your customers want is only half the battle. The other piece of the puzzle carriers need to figure out is how they can offer their customers flexible solutions. Although enterprise customers will have different needs than individual consumers, it’s important to have products and services that would appeal to both customer bases in a variety of different circumstances or stages. Being able to offer a wider variety of hardware, mobile apps and connectivity solutions can set your carrier apart from the crowd.

3. Get ready to scale: More users and more connectivity can only mean one thing: more data. Anticipate the surge in network activity early so you can prepare to scale accordingly. Expanding your network will take time and resources, but the alternative — not being prepared — could be detrimental. As you increase your IoT capabilities, you should simultaneously increase your network capabilities so customers can continue to receive the same level of service they’ve always had. Bottom line: Don’t let growing pains get in the way of customer satisfaction.

4. Prepare for price regulations: To level the playing field in the relatively new IoT market, expect the FCC to regulate pricing for all carriers when it comes to business data services. This reform could mean good things for competitive carriers outside the Big Four, with greater access to the necessary backhaul for optimum carrier performance. A new approach to data services, including spectrum reserves and smaller geographic licenses, will allow competitive carriers to play in the market and cash in on the IoT, despite the seemingly endless reserve of resources big carriers have at their disposal.

There’s no doubt about it, the IoT is coming and you’d better be prepared. Follow these four strategies to ensure your carrier is ahead of the game and prepared for this revolutionary, new consumer technology.)

Jim MacKay is marketing director at Fortegra Financial Corp., a single-source insurance services provider that offers a range of consumer protection options including warranty solutions, credit insurance and specialty underwriting programs.