When Machines Become Customers: Navigating the Next Frontier

As technology leaps forward, the once speculative idea of machines as customers is becoming a palpable reality. A Gartner report reveals a striking prediction: by 2030, machine customers might generate up to 20% of some companies’ revenues. This emerging trend presents opportunities and challenges, demanding a re-evaluation of market dynamics, consumer behaviours, and strategic planning.

The Rise of Machine Customers

Machine customers, capable of making purchasing decisions without human intervention, signify a seismic shift in consumer markets. From software programs autonomously buying cloud storage to self-driving cars scheduling their own maintenance, this change is driven by advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain technology.

Through 2026, 31% of large companies will have a dedicated business unit or sales channels to access fast-growing machine customer markets.


Navigating the Shift: Business Implications

The advent of machine customers necessitates a strategic pivot in sales, marketing, and product development. Tailoring offerings to machine preferences, ensuring seamless integration with automated systems, and prioritising security is now imperative. This new breed of customers will alter demand patterns and require novel engagement strategies.

Trailblazing Examples

HP Instant Ink and Amazon Dash Replenishment are prime examples of machine customers in action. HP Instant Ink’s system, where printers autonomously order ink refills, and Amazon’s appliance-integrated restocking feature illustrate the potential for operational efficiency and enhanced consumer satisfaction.

Tesla’s Smart Maintenance exemplifies this shift in the automotive industry, with vehicles that self-diagnose and order parts, streamlining the maintenance process and elevating the ownership experience.

Source: Gartner


Strategies for Welcoming AI-Powered Customers
  • Understand Machine Logic: Machine customers base decisions on data, not emotion. Businesses must adapt by being transparent, data-driven, and efficient.


  • Meet Machine-Specific Needs: From maintenance to software updates, companies must anticipate and cater to the evolving requirements of autonomous customers.


  • Revise Corporate Strategies: The emergence of machine customers prompts a re-evaluation of business models and strategies, potentially leading to new offerings that cater to human and machine consumers.


  • Invest in Digital and Data: Effective transactions with machine customers hinge on digital solid commerce capabilities and sophisticated data management practices.


  • Adjust Operations: Sales and marketing strategies must evolve to address the logic and algorithms driving machine purchases, leveraging AI and machine learning to identify and capitalise on buying patterns.

Leading firms across industries are preparing for this shift by enhancing their digital commerce prowess and integrating into digital ecosystems. By becoming adept at transacting with automated buyers, businesses can unlock new revenue streams and secure a competitive edge in a digitally transformed marketplace.


The emergence of machines as customers heralds a new era for business innovation. By embracing this evolution and strategically preparing for autonomous economic agents, companies can uncover fresh revenue opportunities, improve operational efficiency, and stay ahead in the digital age.



Gartner Customer Experience Tech Predictions for 2024 and Beyond

Prepare for the Future of AI-Powered Customers

AI-Driven Customers | Think Again: When Machines Purchase Products
Author: Meenakshi Birai


About Skillfield:

Skillfield is a Melbourne-based Cyber Security and Data Services consultancy and professional services company. We provide solutions that help our customers discover, protect and optimise big data in a way that works for them.