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Twilio 2019 Predictions: IoT Everywhere, "Things First" Startups, and the Death of Bad Customer Service Calls

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Evan Cummack and Devang Sachdev, Twilio

IoT Everywhere, "Things First" Startups, and the Death of Bad Customer Service Calls

Major developments in wireless connectivity, artificial intelligence and enterprise software created some of the most exciting tech trends in 2018. But this year, we’ll begin to see the real impact of these tools. From IoT to telecommunications and application development, companies will be empowered to dream big and better connect with customers as these technologies mature in 2019.

Head of IoT, Evan Cummack

  • 2019 will see an increasing number of well funded "Things first" startups. This year we saw significant valuations and acquisitions of Things-first companies, specifically in last-mile transportation (ie Lime Bike, Bird, Uber, Lyft). This success spurs developer and investor interest. As more connected devices transform your daily routine in 2019, expect once again to be asking yourself "Why didn't I think of that?"
  • In 2018, some of the most popular IoT verticals included manufacturing, transportation and utilities and there is a tendency to collect just the relevant data for the primary use case (e.g. GPS coordinates for transportation). It made sense to start here, but in 2019, expect to see 'ambient intelligence' driven by complementary sensor capabilities. We will see early examples in the smart city - digital billboards, shared bikes and street lights could provide cities with air quality, traffic, noise, and even crime data.
  • Demand for IoT-specific talent will increase as Internet communications becomes a bonafide specialization for embedded engineers, and device data more frequently crosses paths with mobile user experiences. Expect to see more IoT-specific university courses and professional-level online training.

Director of Engagement Solutions, Devang Sachdev

  • Customer service agents will play a more strategic role as machine learning based applications become widely adopted. Customer service agents often get a bad rap for simply reading a script or transferring customers from person to person without a resolution. This is largely due to the outdated tools they are using to find information and present it to the customer. In 2019, as machine learning is applied and AI becomes integrated into contact center technology systems, customer service agents will be able to focus on having more intelligent, authentic conversations with customers, rather than performing rote actions. Rather than being replaced by presumed artificially intelligent technology, human agents will be critical members of the broader team bringing interactions to life. Agents will participate by training new machine learning based applications built to complement them, leading to better services experiences for consumers.
  • 2019 is the year of the application platform - Application platforms will usher in an entirely new way for developers to consume and customize enterprise software. Application platforms deploy like a SaaS application, integrate like an on-premises-based solution and iterate at the pace of API-based platform. With application platforms, developers benefit from the low cost and scalability of the cloud but are are no longer limited like they are with SaaS which cannot be customized for specific business needs. We expect an explosion of new ideas from developers, starting in the contact center industry, who finally have the tools they need to innovate enterprise software.
  • Businesses will be more visible on messaging apps like WhatsApp, Apple iMessage and Facebook Messenger. Whereas these apps are still predominantly used for consumer to consumer communication, especially in the United States, 2019 will be the year when business use will accelerate as these apps open up to developers. Businesses will use these apps as new channels to engage customers into conversations with richer experiences such as "instagram-style stories".

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About the Authors

Evan Cummack 

Evan Cummack - Head of IoT, Twilio

Evan Cummack heads the IoT business unit at Twilio, which includes responsibility for product, engineering and go-to-market functions. Evan has been with Twilio since 2011, has developed multiple new products and consulted with many of Twilio's largest customers on global communications solutions.

Devang Sachdev 

Devang Sachdev - Director of Engagement Solutions, Twilio

Devang Sachdev is a Director of Engagement Solutions at Twilio. Devang helps businesses find new ways to engage customers and improve their experience. Originally a hardware developer and technology policy specialist, Devang has previously led product teams at NVIDIA focused AI and machine learning. Devang has a MS Computer Engineering from University of Wisconsin Madison.

Published Thursday, January 24, 2019 7:39 AM by David Marshall
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