When Machines Become Customers

Machines are quickly becoming customers. As a systematic scientist, I see the benefits this will have for both individuals and businesses. 

Machines are methodical. They can take the guesswork out of everyday activities for humans, like when the optimal time to order a new ink cartridge is, or how to determine which car service facility is nearby, cost effective AND has the best reviews.

Normally, humans act as a third party between the machine and products or services. Take the printer with low ink, for example. Let us pretend that I notice the “low ink” light on my printer. I would surf the web to find the appropriate ink cartridge then place my order. Then I would process the payment online and wait for the package to arrive. Hopefully I will be home when it will be delivered, so that I can take it directly from the courier, sign for it and finally install the new ink cartridge. Ideally, I would order the ink as soon as I noticed the “low ink” light, though I may be busy with work and put off ordering the ink–maybe even forget to order it!

But with the AI service “Instant Ink”, a development by HP, my printer could place an order for new ink autonomously, as soon as it senses an impending shortage. When the ink arrives, all I need to do is to install it. 

Since development with autonomous tech like Amazon’s Alexa, HP’s printers and “self-aware” self-driving Uber vehicles is becoming more and more prevalent, I have started to ask myself: How can I change my marketing efforts for the machines?

This is an important question that every entrepreneur should address as they develop their business marketing strategies.

A machine customer cares primarily about efficiency and satisfaction of technical needs. It will favor a business that provides exactly what was promised. As business owners, we may need to rely more heavily on machines to adequately meet these types of machine customer needs. 

Human customers value efficiency and satisfaction of technical needs too– up to a certain point. A human customer may also place value on the friendliness of a customer service agent or the comfortable atmosphere of a service facility’s waiting area, though. This means they may be willing to pay more for the same quality of service simply because their desire for a more friendly or comfortable atmosphere is being met.

As you can see, machines will be prioritizing different values than human customers.

Consider how to cater to these machine customer “needs”. Machines rely on algorithms, inter-machine communication, data exchange and blockchain payments to carry out their activities. You must communicate with the machine customer through these methods. 

Because of this, you will need to update your marketing strategies. Yes, the Amazon Alexa is shopping online for, say, a shampoo for a human to use, but the human is not the one analyzing the product optics. Alexa is.

In this new market, the needs of both humans AND autonomous machines must be met. So ask yourself, what does a machine look for in a shampoo? Because changing your business design to accommodate machine customers is essential to staying relevant in this burgeoning marketplace. 

-Denis Bederov

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