Happy connected Thanksgiving!

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This week, many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Lots of family, friends, food and entertaining. And when life is this busy, we all count of things going smoothly.

And yet … what if you wake up Thanksgiving morning and the oven doesn’t work? Or your water heater breaks and floods your home while you’re out of town? And even if you are around, no one’s coming on a holiday to fix your problems.

However, in this increasingly connected world, soon, our appliances will tell me when things are starting to go wrong. And the necessary repairs will be made before disaster strikes.

Re-imaging appliance repair

“We are in a brave new world where not only do our children talk back to us, but so do our appliances,” says Mohammed Dastagir, CTO for Sears Home Services. And as the #1 appliance protection, repair and parts company in the U.S., Sears would know who and what’s talking.

Sears Home Services is using IBM's predictive and cognitive solutions to reimagine the appliance repair business.

Soon, your kitchen appliances could let you know when something’s going wrong before it actually happens.

Each day, they respond to 20,000 service calls. And each year, their service trucks log 143 million miles. Yet 300,000 of those trips are unnecessary, and 600,000 times, Sears show up without the right part.

If you’ve been on the other end of that service call, those numbers might not surprise you. It’s an industry that hasn’t been disrupted in a long time. But Sears Home Services is set to shake it all up by embracing IoT. Because as Dastagir knows, these types of a calls can be quite emotional.

Using the Watson IoT predictive and cognitive solutions, Sears is reimaging the whole appliance repair experience. Their goal: in the near future, your device will tell Sears “I’m going to fail in the next three weeks so come fix me.” And it won’t be a person with a screwdriver or wrench who shows up. Instead, it’s going to be a person who knows how to deploy the right software, has the right part and knows what’s wrong before they step through the door.

“Did you hear that?”

They’re also exploring the role sounds play in problem solving because those scary appliance noises can give a technician great insights into what’s wrong. That’s why Sears is working with IBM on an acoustic anomaly detention tool. With it, over time, the tool can learn the difference between “thunka, thunka” and “thump wump thump” to diagnose and solve the problem.

All of this, of course, will make consumers happier. Imagine, too, the bottom-line impact for Sears by eliminating those 300,000 unnecessary trips. And by leveraging sensor data and customer insights to solve stressful situations, the company is building brand loyalty. It’s that IoT-led innovation that can help companies like Sears differentiate and succeed in a marketplace that’s expected to reach $37.2B by 2020*.

Here’s hoping that your Thanksgiving is joyous and stress-free.  And that all your appliances behave this holiday season.


* Smart Appliances Market by Smart Home Appliances (Washer, Dryer, Air Conditioner, Vacuum Cleaner), Smart Kitchen Appliances (Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Freezer), Technology (Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth), End User, and Region – Global Forecast to 2020


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