Author: Jay Krishnan, VP Marketing, Automile
The Internet of Things, or IoT. It sounds so complicated, doesn’t it? Like something really fancy for bigger companies with deeper pockets? Think again. It’s really not so complicated and it’s technology that’s within easy—and affordable—reach of SMBs. Here’s some helpful information to help you understand what all the fuss is about.
1) Really, it’s quite simple.
Huh? Like it sounds: it connects everyday things through the internet. Objects from mobile phones, coffee machines, garbage cans, and thermostats to industrial equipment, farm silos, credit card readers, and semi trucks are outfitted with small-but-mighty (just like your business) sensors that report information to users via internet-connected smartphones, tablets, PCs, etc. BI Intelligence projects that there will be a total of 22.5 billion IoT devices in 2021, up from 6.6 billion in 2016.
What’s the big deal? Because communicating with, interacting with, and learning from their IoT-connected things makes a decision maker's life easier, or saves them money, or helps them make better use of their resources…
How does it work? There are different ways the IoT helps people manage data and make it usable. Datasciencecentral.com breaks it down for us. The IoT works its magic via:
1. One-way, self-monitoring service requests, like a connected vending machine that alerts its operator that shelf C3 needs to be restocked.
2. One-way, real-time reporting of more complex data, such as a blood pressure monitor that exports patient’s readings to a clinician.
3. Two-way, interactive communications like smart appliances and cell phones.
4. All-of-the-above plus artificial intelligence, as seen in drones and smart vehicles.
For more insight, check out The Connected Car: Time to embrace IoT in Your Fleet Management
2) It’s part of an evolution that started with SaaS.
As a small business owner, cloud computing already probably plays a role in your company’s day-to-day operations. Do you use internet-based file sharing or a SaaS accounting service? Companies who leverage cloud technology don’t have to invest in hardware or install software onto their local machines—everything is powered from their vendor’s servers. And vendors manage upkeep and service issues, too, making the technology as user-friendly as the banking app on your smartphone.
Find the answer to your burning question, How Are Cloud-Based Solutions Empowering Small Businesses?
Well, the IoT is like next-generation cloud use. This technology is not just for huge enterprises or consumers living in a million dollar smart homes. It’s not cost-prohibitive—and it’s easily scalable. Both reasons make it the perfect fit for SMBs. And more solutions being developed for small businesses because they can be inexpensively leveraged using the internet (cloud).
An article on Media Planet’s Future of Business and Tech puts it this way: “As it turns out, processing large amounts of data is an excellent use of cloud computing, which provides a fast and affordable way for SMBs to become IoT proficient.”
3) It solves your business challenges.
In the big picture, the IoT helps solve one of the biggest problems many SMBs face: wrangling “big data” and making it actionable. Your operations generate information that—if effectively monitored and managed—can help differentiate your business and help you stay agile and competitive. And that’s where the IoT comes in. “The best thing about IoT,” claims Laura DiDio, director of IoT strategies enterprise research and consulting at Strategy Analytics, in a Gearbrain.com article, “is that SMBs are saving time by consolidating a lot of businesses processes by connecting components, devices, applications, and services to end users.”
Your job is to find the business case to adopt IoT technology. What are your business goals? What data would help you take your business to the next level? How can the technology generate the information you need? Maybe you need help with…
- Measuring temperatures in your environment
- Managing inventories based on data from CRM systems, real-time product usage, and service experience data
- Enabling fast and easy digital POS payments
For these challenges and more, “There’s an IoT solution for that!”
4) It’s going to boost your bottom line.
It’s been suggested that SMBs might have the most to gain by employing IoT. That’s because by using (often simple) networks of sensors, cameras, and other digital components, business owners can make basic improvements in their efficiency that lowers costs and boosts productivity. It can make the biggest impact on the smallest of companies.
Consider the smart thermostat, which detects temperature changes in your office and automatically adjusts the heat or AC, saving on energy costs.
It’s easy to see why well over half (57%) of SMBs participating in an AVG survey agree that the IoT will help them boost their revenues. And why the SMB leaders adopting advanced cloud-based technology grew annual revenue 15% faster than those not doing so, according to a Boston Consulting Group study.
5) It’s already impacting an SMB near you.
Let’s take a look at how small businesses in a few different industry markets are taking advantage of IoT technology:
- Manufacturing companies can use equipment with IoT-enabled sensors that help decision-makers manage operations with minimal downtime.
- Retailers can use IoT-based micro-location proximity-awareness to target shoppers with personalized offers.
- Construction companies are using fleet telematics to monitor their vehicles, driver whereabouts, and fuel consumption so they can protect their assets, optimize supply pick-ups and site scheduling, and fill-ups.
Ready to learn more? Start Riding the Learning Curve of IoT and Fleet Telematics.
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