Clean Clothes and Smart Machines: Re-Imagining Consumer Durables in the Digital Economy
Appliances companies as well as new technology-enabled consumer electronics companies are disrupting the consumer durables segment by adding digital interfaces and sensors to previously analog devices
The combination of intuitive digital user interfaces and sensors that enable these devices to connect to the Internet and communicate with other devices are enabling these companies to capitalize on the new digital economy by eliminating manual intervention and instead automating engagement to optimize outcomes consumers want to achieve.
Adding digital interfaces and supporting technologies to previously analog devices not only makes them more intuitive to use, it redefines consumers’ perception of utility and value. Take, for example, appliances such as washing machines. Previously, consumers would clean clothes on the basis of two or three combinations of options – water temperature, fabric type, and cycle time. And, it was up to the consumer to determine which combination of the three would result in the best outcome depending on the clothing they planned to wash.
Now, consumers make choices for washing their clothes based on desired outcomes – deep clean, sanitize, quick wash, wrinkle free and more. The intelligence built into the machine automatically calibrates the variables required to achieve those outcomes on the consumers’ behalf rather than the other way around.
Creating Value at New Frontiers
Extending this example, appliances manufacturers are now also embedding sensors into their products, enabling entirely new, and previously unattainable categories of value for consumers. Sensors connected to the Internet detect detergent usage and consumption patterns, enabling appliances manufacturers to partner with brands and retailers to enable consumers to re-order detergent and fabric softener automatically as needed, adjusting volumes and package sizes to ongoing consumption and use.
These same sensors monitor water, energy and detergent use relative to washing cycle type, frequency and timing to recommend opportunities to minimize and optimize energy consumption, water use and waste.
By connecting with other sensor-enabled and Internet-connected platforms, consumers have the capacity to control and manage appliance settings and usage patterns remotely from mobile devices, as well as automate and coordinate appliance use with other appliances and smart things based on opportunities, for example, to set appliances to run during off-peak hours to minimize energy costs.
More practically, sensors are now also monitoring the “health” of the appliances, giving appliance makers the capacity to monitor age, wear and tear and to predict maintenance, improving forecasting for replacement parts, planning for services delivery, and minimizing the risks of warranty claims other potential product-related liabilities.
And, by partnering with emerging solutions leveraging 3D visualization, such as BILT, and even virtual reality, appliance manufacturers can assist consumers directly with fast and easy capabilities for routine maintenance and minor repairs, further reducing both potential service costs and product liabilities.
Consumer Engagement, Unprecedented Productivity
Durables companies like these are also monetizing consumer moments in terms of commerce, consumer engagement, cost reduction and risk mitigation.
Incremental investments in technologies to enable digital interaction and connection to other standards-based platforms are enabling previously impossible avenues for consumer engagement, providing for real-time forecasting and planning, eliminating obsolescence and write downs, and materially reducing both service cost and liability risk.
Learn more about Digital Transformation for Consumer Products at Consumer Products. Reimagined for the new economy.