IoT World Austin 2022: Cities, Businesses Leverage Customer Insights to Improve Services

A panel discussion featuring Omdia, American Airlines and the city of Austin took on the topic of the importance of customer demands

Scarlett Evans

November 3, 2022

3 Min Read

The future of technology looks bright. From robotics to computer vision and AI to 5G, our cities, businesses and home lives will never be the same, and we’re still at the cusp of widespread deployment. 

At this year’s IoT and AI Summit Austin, Omdia’s IoT lead analyst Andy Brown led a panel discussion alongside Jhonatan Mateus, senior manager of customer analytics at American Airlines and Jason JonMichael, assistant director of smart mobility for the city of Austin, to discuss the factors driving tech deployments in our cities, with a particular focus on smart mobility. 

“Since COVID, we’ve seen a rapid increase in digitalization,” said Brown. “Here, we’re looking at how we can drive more intelligent processing at the edge of the network and how we’re seeing robotics used to automate a lot of mundane or dangerous processes. At the center of this is digital trust, in addition to human beings.”

Customer experience and expectation have always informed business decisions to a degree, and with the pandemic’s ripple effects and the simultaneous proliferation of technologies, these expectations have shifted to more personalized, streamlined and rapid models. 

“We’re seeing new innovation in how we connect more people and move more people with a balanced approach,” said JonMichael. “Austin is a huge active transportation community and we’ve been working on this for quite a while to ensure people can move around freely and we as a city can deliver more services to people.”

“People are very different now than they were 20 or 30 years ago,” said Mateus. “My industry has been focused on people who travel for businesses and pleasure, creating products and services for those two distinct types of people. Now, people work with a flexibility that the rise of technology has enabled and that has led to a changed idea about working hours. It’s our job to understand trends like this and find ways to create great products and services based off of this.”

With today’s tech developments, products are being created and implemented in response to behavioral changes, as opposed to simply being tech for tech’s sake, with innovators working to directly meet customer experiences and needs. Yet with the shift in gear to these more responsive types of tech deployments, significant privacy concerns also emerge, and as businesses and government bodies alike adopt more customizable, personalized offerings, they also open the door to potential attacks.

“From a smart city perspective, you’re dealing with machine data and you’re dealing with data on citizens,” said Brown. “So data is really at the heart of what we’ve been talking about in terms of processing, whether we’re talking about edge, or AI and machine learning. On top of that, there are also privacy implications around how you handle data.”

A level of transparency on how and why data is collected is the first step to achieving what the speakers termed a “virtuous cycle.”

“You have to ask yourself how you’re using the customer’s data, what you’re intending to do with it,” said Mateus. “You need to be using this information to provide value to justify collecting the data.”

“Virtuous cycles don’t just happen naturally,” said JonMichael. “You have to have a level of intentionality and you’ve got to understand what’s important to you and your organization. So for cities, it’s about driving municipal purposes and providing a level of municipal service stability to the residents and visitors that come to Austin.”

While businesses are still grappling with ways of gathering and managing customer data, the ability to access these insights has opened up significant opportunities to hone and develop offerings from both businesses and cities alike, creating more value-driven products and services for customers. 

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

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