In today’s world, literally any product/device/service can be connected. The most common ways are via Wi-Fi, sim cards, long-range networks (LoRA), and other such mechanisms but developments in edge and fog computing are pushing the limits of what can be connected even further. This phenomenon is called the Internet of Things (IoT) and businesses are rushing to make sense of it, and investing tremendous amounts of money and time trying to figure out what IoT means for them.

Why, though, are businesses rushing to adopt IoT? There appears to be a variety of reasons:

  • Everyone else is doing it (not a great reason)
  • Businesses want to capture as much data as possible to find new patterns and insights
  • Businesses believe it will help them reach certain goals, such as moving from a product focused company to a service provider

Whatever the reason or rationale, every project should be business-outcome-driven with a direct link to value and ROI. Too many companies are entering into prototypes and experiments without a clear view of what success should look like, which is leading, in some cases, to failure.

IoT 1.0 and 2.0 and their limitations

The current documented failures are not entirely a business's fault, much of the IoT technology available today does not make it easy for a them to add value or generate ROI. To date, most IoT technology has been focused on networking devices together (IoT 1.0) or analyzing data that is streaming from those networked devices (IoT 2.0).

Both IoT 1.0 and IoT 2.0 are critical for a business to succeed in the connected world, because they provide the foundational layer for how a business collects and analyze their data. However, to provide true returns on IoT investment you have to be able to connect all of those analyzed and networked devices back to business value.

At Salesforce, we always map core business value back to the customer. This brings us to the next phase of IoT. The connected customer experience or, to stick with naming conventions, IoT 3.0

IoT 3.0: The Connected Customer Experience

Our belief is that behind every device is a customer, someone whose experience we can positively affect right now, which is often when it matters most. We think customer experience first and how we can improve it to positively impact the brand. Anyone can use technology but only you can create a unique experience that differentiates you in the market. The missing element then in IoT 2.0 is the customer, partner, supplier, employee, and any other stakeholder involved in the end-to-end process and outcome.

IoT 3.0 closes the loop by connecting a device IoT platform to a business-engagement engine to drive actions and measurable outcomes.

How Does IoT 3.0 work in the real world?

To illustrate this, let's explore an example: A connected car may send telemetry data such as vehicle identification number (VIN), location, speed, tire pressures, fault codes, and engine and oil temperatures every 30 seconds.

Today, this data is often sent via a SIM card to a device gateway and into a data lake to be analyzed for insight. Depending on the complexity, the time this analysis takes could be anything from seconds, to minutes, hours or days. Without doubt such data can be useful but, whilst device data alone is relatively interesting, something crucial is missing — context. There are many forms of context, in this example lets think about the vehicle. For example: When was the vehicle serviced? What was the mileage at the last service? How many times has there been a fault with the vehicle in the last six months? Is the car under warranty?


If you enrich device data in near real time with context data, you have a very powerful set of data from which you can build business rules to generate actions and measurable outcomes e.g. if the car is sending fault codes and we know the service date is more than 30 days away we may choose to message the driver to either offer them some appointment times or ask them to call to book the car in for a service. I am sure you can think of many more examples of highly interesting rules that could be created with this new rich data set.

IoT 4.0, which is already emerging, will add machine learning and artificial capabilities to the connected-customer value chain to make customer experiences truly seamless and part of everyday life.

IoT 3.0 is the bridge from things to humans, whether they be your customers, partners, suppliers, or employees to drive measurable outcomes and ROI. The sheer volume of data from IOT 3.0 will be a rich source to really power IoT 4.0, using AI to make the connected chain truly intelligent.

If you're interested in learning more about Salesforce's unique approach to IoT, Download our E-Book.