Calling Home: It’s not just for Mother’s Day anymore

Your two choices: Get online. Or get off the shelves
January 16, 2012
Why Connectivity Shouldn’t Mean Complexity
February 27, 2012
Show all

Elite electronics companies have realized that one of the single most useful features they can design into their product is the ability for it to “Call Home” wirelessly.

High-end Internet routers and high-speed office copiers don’t seem to have much in common. But as it happens, the latest versions of both these devices often have a built-in “Call Home” ability that electronics manufacturers have realized can be a crucial differentiator in product design, customer satisfaction and much more.

“Call Home” is the ability of a device to use the Internet to report its vital statistics back to its manufacturers, in the background and without normal operations being interfered with. Cisco routers, for example, routinely report back traffic information to Cisco’s engineering team, assuming, of course, the customer has consented to the data being transferred in the first place. Many copiers do the same, checking in not only with regular usage patterns, but also the occasional hiccups, like paper jams.

Companies are finding that these real-time reports from the field are of enormous value to engineering teams as they contemplate the design of new products. They know what works and what doesn’t in their current models, and can thus quickly figure out exactly what to zero in on for the upgrade.

And once they began designing in internet-connected “Call Home,” companies realized it was useful for many other things besides product feedback for engineering teams.

One of the best examples involves using the information to forge closer customer relationships, not to mention additional and new business opportunities. With a well-designed Call Home system, you’ll have the information you need to alert customers when they are due for regular product servicing and maintenance sessions. This could be anything from replacing the filter in a home heating and cooling system to getting a garage door re-lubricated after it’s been opened and closed as many times as manufacturer suggests.

Call Home functionality presents another advantage to manufacturers: It can reduce the number of visits necessary to provide warranty service.

Usually, a service truck needs to roll twice in connection with a repair job: The first time to diagnose the problem, the second time to do the actual repair. But if the company was getting real-time diagnostic information from the internet-connected device via Call Home functionality, that first visit could often be skipped, saving time and money for company and customer alike.

Arrayent solutions allow manufacturers to add wireless connectivity to every day products, so that a home security system, for example, can be controlled from a mobile phone. For Arrayent’s customers, Call Home is yet another feature they can implement quickly and easily, with a minimum of engineering work. There can be multiple pay-offs, more than enough, as they say, to call home about.