A few months ago, the Liferay team held a Hackday, where we gave a bunch of programmers access to voice technology (like the Amazon Echo Dot) and a license for Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP), then left them alone for six hours to see what they could come up with. The Internet of Things (IoT) is an increasingly important part of the digital transformation conversation, and we were excited to see how teams were able to use Liferay DXP to solve different problems with the automation and voice technology we provided.
Fast-forward to March 23, where part of the Liferay team attended the Road to Reinvention Conference at University of California, Irvine, Paul Merage School of Business. This year’s session focused heavily on how companies can transform their business strategy and culture to enable more innovative approaches to technology. Presenters and attendees included digital strategists from some of the biggest brands moving forward in digital transformation, such as Target, Lyft and Experian.
Integrating Liferay DXP with Alexa
We thought this was the perfect opportunity to try out the work our programmers had done during Hackday. Our sales engineer quickly pulled together a demo that lets users use Liferay DXP through Alexa commands. He taught Alexa how to respond to five commands with real-time data (not pre-programmed responses):
- Alexa, ask Liferay to give me a health check (and you get back system info about your Liferay instance).
- Add a user.
- Tell me how many users I have.
- Add a page (we had a monitor with a live Liferay DXP site, so you could see the page being added in real-time).
- Alexa, define “cool.” (Okay, so this one was a pre-programmed response. Due to a persistent inside joke at Liferay, Alexa responds to this command with, “‘Cool’ is a California technical term spelled k-e-w-l.”)
Now, at first glance, this seems like a limited use case. Is there really that much business value in adding a page to your website with the Echo Dot? But what made this demo so interesting was how quickly we were able to integrate Liferay DXP with this new(er) technology. One of the challenges with the IoT is how quickly different kinds of devices are being created, all by different manufacturers on different platforms, with their own standards and development processes. The fact that we were able to onboard the Echo Dot so quickly was really exciting, and we ended the day with ideas for other things customers would want to see integrated, such as a Fitbit.
New Ways to Spur Digital Transformation
Unsurprisingly, both the Road to Reinvention attendees and the speakers were eager to discuss the business impact of new technology, including use cases for the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea of IoT can be traced as far back as 1932, but it’s only in the past few years that we’ve actually begun to implement it successfully. We’re getting much better at making our wildest sci-fi dreams come true, and businesses today are making IoT a significant part of their digital strategies.
Overall, we found three key digital transformation takeaways for those who want to get started with IoT:
- Don’t think big, think small. Technology is only as good as the problem it solves. Companies are much more likely to find a viable IoT use case by answering the question, “Why does this need to be connected?” This will likely lead them to narrow point solutions.
- Focus on the data. IoT’s most important business benefit is the data it provides. By viewing connected devices as services, rather than products, companies can pull significant data concerning their users’ actions in order to measure and tailor the effectiveness of their services and marketing.
- Look for adjacent uses. Through savvy partnerships, companies can find new business channels that increase the value of both services. For instance, smart cars can be designed to ping dealers when a repair is needed, and even automatically schedule an appointment for the driver.
The promise of the Internet of Things is about much more than the things themselves. Companies that use connected devices strategically stand to dramatically increase the intelligence of their organizations, fueling innovation and new business opportunities that didn’t use to be possible.