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Internet of Things: The more innovative the customers, the more interest in IoT projects!

The great importance of digitally networked systems in the Internet of Things (IoT) has long been known in research and business. For manufacturers, the data generated from networked systems represents a new, virtual service product with which innovative business models could be developed – if it weren’t for the fact that customers’ fear of surveillance and data misuse is still so great. A new study by Prof. Dr. Christine Falkenreck (Hof University of Applied Sciences) and Prof. Dr. Ralf Wagner (University of Kassel) is now looking into the question of how customers can be involved in and convinced by new IoT business models.

Graphic: Hof University of Applied Sciences

Possible uses for IoT business models are many. “Manufacturers have an interest in the data, for example, to learn about the load and load on their machines. This then finds its way into new developments.” And further

It is also conceivable in the future that the parcel carrier will arrive at the customer’s with a spare part before he even knows that his machine needs a new part. This means that the machine will be down for less time. Remote maintenance is also possible, for example, through the use of virtual reality glasses in the Internet of Things.”

Prof. Dr. Christine Falkenreck
Prof. Dr. Christine Falkenreck; Image: private;

But what are the hurdles on the way to actually bringing the technical possibilities to application? The results of a survey of Western European customers in the specialty mechanical engineering sector show: Sound prior knowledge on the subject of digitization and IoT, as well as a belief in appropriate handling of customer data by manufacturers, are key to project success. Satisfaction with the business relationship in general is also important.

Competitive advantage and cost reduction

Accordingly, customer requirements for IoT-based business models include cost reduction through predictive maintenance, shorter maintenance intervals and machine downtime, and a resulting increase in profitability. The development of innovative service expertise is therefore already regarded as a new competitive advantage.

Serious handling of customer data

In discussions with their customers about new, IoT-based business models, manufacturers should above all emphasize and demonstrate their trustworthy handling of customer data – and initially limit themselves to their most innovative customer group when selecting potential partners. Prof. Dr. Falkenreck recommends only making the new service concepts available to a larger group of customers after so-called “lighthouse projects” have been successfully implemented.

The complete study has just been published in the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing under the title “From Managing Customers to Joint Venturing with Customers: Co-Creating Service Value in the Digital Age”.


Prof. Dr. Christine Falkenreck, Hof University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Head of Master Project Management christine.falkenreck@hof-university.de

Prof. Dr. Ralf Wagner, University of Kassel, Chair of Sustainable Marketing rwager@wirtschaft.uni-kassel.de

Prof. Dr. Christine Falkenreck
Rainer Krauß

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