Anuj Aggarwal , CTO , 247around

For years, home appliances and ACs have assumed the role of a dormant member, left behind once the user leaves the home/office. With advances in IoT and AI, these appliances are finding new ways to engage with the end user ubiquitously. While mobiles enjoyed the crown for several years, supported by innovation and demand, with slowdown in smartphone penetration and increased IoT technology adoption, they will be confined to being just a must-have medium. CES 2018 has made this and multiple other trends even more evident and inevitable but are all the stakeholders in the consumer electronics industry geared up to ride the new wave?

We will expect our devices to be brainier. Efficiency will be key starting from the production of electronics to the point of human interaction of the consumer with the electronics. It would not be just about the product features, the channels of reaching the customers will matter too! Handshakes will be even more critical now. What are the implications of these trends on the ecosystem comprising design teams, production houses, marketers, distributors, and after-sales partners?

We will expect our devices to be brainier. AI will permeate across industries and devices that consumers have been using already. As IoT and AI will drive digital centralization the busy users would be spending less time in directly operating the electronics around them. The smart assistants are already beginning to show signs of how they will streamline the consumer experience in the near future. From switches to remotes to phones controlling our devices, the move to voice assistants to liaison with them has already kicked in. This will further substantiate consumer electronics’ indispensability in our lives. This in turn implies that the devices would be expected to have a minimal downtime and hence the importance of robust after-sales. The CE service providers would need to rise to this mounting pressure sooner than they realize. One cannot achieve different results, unless one uses different means! Surely, after-sales teams must become more efficient, effective, and proactive. Brands must select service partners who have predictive analytics and remote diagnostics capabilities.

Efficiency will be key starting from the production of electronics to the point of human interaction of the consumer with the electronics. The fast shifting consumer preferences and changing technology imply that brands must adopt and act even faster than before. They should innovate faster, design faster, produce faster, market faster, and also incorporate back the customer feedback faster into their innovation and production cycle. Efficacy will therefore not be an option!

It would not be just about the product features, the channels of reaching the customers will matter too! Preventing its turf is not the only game for brands; they must also continue to fight for higher visibility to new prospects. For brands it is important to drive up the decision of clicking buy and social media has made that more trackable. If a customer searches for a string related to AC in the search engine, all the brands vie for the coveted slot. To win brands must design strategic customer outreach programs that can help them engage an individual customer at different times for different sets of products and services…all through multiple channels.

Handshakes will be even more critical now. I am not talking just about the handshakes between devices, players, application providers, or the platform rulers. Although they too have to wake up to the advantages of interoperability, cross-platform leverage, and breaking silos. I am talking about the stakeholders in the product lifecycle.

Design, production, and after-sales must begin communicating on a more strategic level than they currently do. Donning the transactions only attitude will be detrimental, as after-sales will be a critical partner in bringing home the customer feedback. The design teams and brands can stay contemporary and continue to be significant to the end consumer’s life by listening in deeper than they have done so far. Who can be better informed than the after-sales partner who engages the closest with the consumer? Brands must make after-sales partners a core to their strategic priority, as they are both the soothsayers and influencers of consumer experience and hence consumer choice.