The case of the Coca-Cola Company sheds light on IoT applications for beverage businesses. Six years ago, the company started testing its smart IoT-connected refrigerators that facilitate the collection of data that local managers might find conducive to increased sales (“Coca-Cola benefits from IoT,” n.d.). These smart coolers’ data types include product temperature, power consumption statistics, the cycle of refrigeration, the most popular selling outlets, consumers’ typical product choices, door opening statistics, and similar sales-related information (“Coca-Cola benefits,” n.d.). The Coca-Cola Company has developed multiple partnerships with tech giants to promote the project.
In 2018, Coca-Cola HBC, one of its largest bottlers, deployed thousands of smart coolers with cameras and IoT sensors, resulting in a 10% increase in total sales (“Coca-Cola benefits,” n.d.). Based on the case details, this paper will discuss the opportunities for real-time engagement with customers, the effects of standardization levels, and the need for sharing data.
Critical Thinking Questions and Potential Recommendations
Real-Time Engagement with Customers
Real-time client engagement can be considered a critical capability for the Coca-Cola Company’s bottlers. With a new cloud-connected system of coolers, these sellers might use real-time engagement and data from target customers to adapt their strategies to the latter’s expectations regarding the optimal beverage temperature and the types of drinks in stock (ATOS, 2020). According to ATOS (2020), one of the companies participating in smart coolers’ development, apart from proximity solutions fostering a connection with customers via mobile apps, sellers can achieve real-time engagement with the help of narrowband IoT networks. The services that currently support real-time consumer engagement and data reporting include Smart Tag Always-on and Smart Vision, and their implementation requires the presence of smart hub devices and Smart Tag/Smart Vision IoT devices (ATOS, 2020).
The company’s bottlers might be recommended to work on a number of unique ideas. One of them is connecting with geographically proximate customers and using the most recent information on inventory levels to send notifications related to current offers, including free drinks and discounts, via smartphone applications. Data regarding the most popular beverages and products in stock might be used to improve offers’ relevance to app users and prevent dissatisfaction due to the inability to purchase as many items as needed.
The capability of using real-time data to engage with clients involves a variety of advantages. By analogy with real-time systems in healthcare that detects infection risks, connected coolers will facilitate the detection of sales outlets facing product spoilage risks due to suboptimal temperature conditions or insufficient demand (Stair & Reynolds, 2021). This information would support commercial success by promoting instant equipment maintenance and special offer decisions to prevent reductions in sales.
No Standardization and the Initiative’s Success
The absence of standardization will not severely affect the initiative’s overall success. The company can be recommended to support authorized bottlers’ right to develop the networks of coolers at their own pace and experiment with technological solutions. From the long-term perspective, this approach might promote a series of viable solutions to choose from. As per the case, the Coca-Cola Company started slowly to achieve and analyze pilot success before expanding the initiative, which seems to be a wise approach (“Coca-Cola benefits,” n.d.). Pilot success has been ensured locally with an IoT solution from ATOS Codex (“Coca-Cola benefits,” n.d.). This, however, does not undermine the possibility of finding even more effective solutions in collaboration with other IT giants.
Based on the above, providing all bottlers with standardized solution choice recommendations and completion deadlines could reduce the chance of customizing the connected cooler concept to diverse socioeconomic environments. Among the company’s authorized bottlers are organizations in developed and developing countries with varying climate conditions, customer fastidiousness levels, and the pace of IoT adoption, so expectations from connected coolers might be slightly different, promoting the need for multiple customized solutions (“Coca-Cola benefits,” n.d.). More than that, Coca-Cola bottlers’ unique attempts to approach the idea of connected coolers will give rise to numerous technology use cases to compare in terms of effects on sales and consumer satisfaction, which will facilitate gap analysis.
Sharing Data from Various Bottlers and Relevant Issues
Sharing the data collected from different bottlers that use connected coolers might be needed to keep the Coca-Cola Company’s syrup manufacturing efforts aligned with the customer preference profiles and promote further developments in connected cooler technology and its implementation. Sharing particular bottlers’ statistics regarding purchasing behavior patterns might supplement the Coca-Cola Company’s global studies of demand, while the data on cooler locations and technological disruptions incidence from the various bottlers will promote the determination of best practices in promoting the quality of consumers’ experiences.
However, the company is recommended to pay close attention to issues that might surround data-sharing endeavors. It is possible that the heterogeneity of data collected using different technological solutions will hinder the generalizability of such data, thus affecting the exchange of experience (Stair & Reynolds, 2021). More than that, some bottling companies might be affected by the employees’ insufficient IoT literacy and limited skills in ensuring data privacy when it comes to making reports available to other parties.
To sum up, real-time engagement with clients can take the form of personalized offers and notifications. Also, testing different technological solutions without a universal project timeline can be a valuable opportunity, given the variability of socioeconomic contexts in which the bottlers operate. Finally, sharing data from different bottlers might enhance the Coca-Cola Company’s current knowledge concerning customer behavior, preference patterns, and diverse technology solutions’ weaknesses.
ATOS. (2020). Codex IoT services: Connected cooler. Web.
Coca-Cola benefits from IoT. (n.d.).
Stair, R., & Reynolds, G. (2021). Principles of information systems (14th ed.). Cengage Learning.