For the technology industry and the businesses it serves, the main onus of 2016 will be focused on reestablishing customer trust. Rethinking processes around security, identity and access management as well as data management, will be pivotal in answering the concerns that have bourgeoned during a year dominated by hacks and data breaches.
While hindsight will play an important role in shaping plans, forward-thinking companies will also look to take on board developing trends and technologies that can enhance existing customer relationships and unlock new efficiencies that will help them meet growing consumer demands for greater experiences.
Unpacking the opportunities and challenges presented by cloud collaboration, Craig VerColen, Vice President of Corporate Communications at LogMeIn, reviews the major trends of 2015 and proffers his forecasts for the year ahead.
What do you see as the single biggest challenge facing the ICT industry in the year ahead, and why?
Changing regulations and a series of extremely high profile data breaches dominated the headlines in 2015. Businesses and consumers alike are now fearful that this was not an anomaly, but a glimpse of the new normal. This is compounded by the prevalence of applications and devices that blur professional and personal lines, a rapid rise in connected devices overall – especially with the emergence of the IoT – and a workplace increasingly defined beyond the location of its workers versus that of the traditional office building and its locked down firewall.
In the midst of this, the ICT industry faces the challenge of having to connect an increasingly mobile and global workforce. To stay ahead, businesses must invest in tools that align with the realities and working styles of the modern worker and work environment.
What do you see as the biggest growth opportunities for your customers in 2016, and why?
As consumers are becoming ever more connected, the contact points between a business and its customer will continue to expand. Everything from a toaster to a car to a medical device can become an Internet-connected object and offer streams of real-time data.
Internet connectivity is also changing the rules of customer engagement, particularly as it allows companies direct access to customers that was, until now, only possible through third party providers such as retailers.
Why did LogMeIn buy LastPass and why now?
LastPass is a great company with a beloved product, strong team and loyal customers. With this acquisition, the goal wasn’t just to acquire a great product, it was to acquire a great business that could complement one of LogMeIn’s strategic growth drivers in identity and access management. It’s an area where we have been investing from both an organic and M&A standpoint. And we see password management as a key, relatively underserved part of that market.
Meldium’s capabilities, which are focused on teams and small businesses, will be supported alongside LastPass for now. In the longer-term, we’ll be building around a single IAM offering, and that will be based on LastPass, both architecturally and from a brand perspective.
What emerging trends or technologies may influence or change the way the ICT industry will do business in 2016, and why?
This explosion in customer data and insights presents an opportunity for companies to uncover actionable data and drive tangible insights. Not all data is created equal, and beyond being rich in data, growth opportunities lie in taking these insights to transform customer engagement and build loyalty – from product development to point of sale to customer support.
Closely linked is an opportunity to leverage the growing channels of customer support as a way of reinvigorating customer communication, engagement and support. Earlier this year, a study by Ovum and LogMeIn found mobile, web self-service and live chat are rapidly growing channels of customer support. The use of mobile phones or live chat for support calls has doubled over the last two years, while mobile apps increased sixfold.
While this ‘omnichannel’ approach is creating new avenues of communication, it also means rethinking and restructuring support models. With 76 per cent of customers surveyed by Ovum having stopped doing business with a brand following a bad customer experience, customer service is no longer purely about gaining a competitive advantage, but staying relevant in this era of connected consumers.
What new and innovative technologies do you see emerging in your IT solution categories in 2016, and how will they help your customers?
Video-aided customer support. Remote support is tried and true for tech service providers as it provides the dual benefit of increasing customer satisfaction through resolving issues quickly, and reducing cost.
Using a secure, live camera feed from a customer or employee’s mobile device can give support teams the power to diagnose and resolve issues without having to be present. Customer support teams are literally able to see and remotely assist with product issues as if it were directly in front of them.
As everything becomes connected, organisations have to rethink the ways they support customers. Rescue Lens is the first part in our Support of Things initiative. This refers to a natural progression of delivering support on digital products, soon-to-be connected devices and connected devices. In the IoT, this will mean both self-serve and direct support. As remote support also removes the need to ship large volumes of returned products that may not have been faulty, it significantly cuts costs associated with onsite technical support.
What are your customers demanding of you more today than five years ago, and how will you meet these requirements in 2016?
The Internet of Things continues to dominate the technology sector, and conversations have shifted from ‘if’ to ‘how’ companies can build connected businesses. At its core is a growing understanding that businesses must not only connect quickly and seamlessly, but securely. The need for managing identities and access in the IoT – and the critical role identity management plays in device, data and user security – has become a hot topic in 2015.
To provide our customers with identity management that scales, reduces risk, and accelerates time to market, LogMeIn has launched Xively Identity Access Management. This was designed to provide a turn-key, white-label option for onboarding and managing new end users of IoT devices, one that can easily be applied to web and mobile applications – the most common means of people creating accounts for their new connected products – through a simple API. It provides our customers with a new way of mapping user identity to a device. It also allows them to build rich profiles of their consumers to better map usage information and device data.
What is the most exciting part of the IOT for you?
A lot of companies first come to us wanting their products to be controllable via mobile app and that is the extent of the request – not exactly innovative thinking. The truth is that connecting products is the least innovative part of the IoT. Companies that are just looking to connect their products for their sake of entering the IoT market or even trying to keep up with the Joneses are missing a HUGE piece of what makes the IoT a potential game changer. We’d argue that simply slapping a chip on a product doesn’t make it innovative. True innovation comes with what you do with the data that such a connection provides and perhaps even more importantly, with the relationships it creates. The companies that are really going to come out on top are thinking about strategies around what this new connectivity will allow them to do.
Who do you think is going to come out on top in the IOT?
Contrary to popular belief – it’s not always about invention, but in many cases about re-invention. The companies that are really going to win in the IoT are current companies that are taking their unconnected products and connecting them…hopefully in ways that help them transform their business. This is where we believe most of the opportunity in the IoT will come from.
Craig VerColen, Vice President of Corporate Communications at LogMeIn