We live in exciting times where everything around us is getting smarter and more connected. The Internet of Things (IoT) is making this possible by enabling devices and objects to connect to the internet and each other. For small and medium businesses (SMBs), IoT opens up game-changing opportunities to run operations more efficiently and deliver better customer experiences.
What is IoT? IoT refers to a network of internet-enabled physical objects that can collect and share data. This includes everything from smartphones, wearables and home appliances to industrial equipment. With IoT sensors and connectivity, these ‘things’ can communicate real-time data that drives intelligent insights and automation.
IoT adoption is growing at a remarkable pace. There are currently over 10 billion IoT connected devices worldwide. This figure is projected to grow to 22 billion by 2025 and 75 billion by 2028 as per Juniper Research. Over the next five years, global IoT spending across industries is predicted to reach $1.1 trillion annually.
For SMBs, these projections highlight massive opportunities to leverage IoT to gain competitive edge. Those who embrace IoT early will be best positioned to engage customers, enhance products, and optimize workflows.
IoT enables SMBs to make data-driven decisions in real-time by providing accurate insights about internal operations and customer preferences. This leads to improved efficiency, lower costs and the ability to offer personalized customer experiences.
Specifically, IoT helps SMBs to:
In essence, IoT provides granular visibility into all aspects of SMB operations and customer interactions. This empowers data-centric decision making.
For customers, IoT delivers personalized, simplified and responsive services through connected SMB offerings. Key benefits include:
The long-term vision of IoT is interconnected ‘smart’ businesses that constantly learn and optimize operations. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain will accelerate this.
Key goals shaping this vision include:
By 2025, IDC predicts over 55% of global GDP will be digitized, with growth driven by IoT. SMBs that leverage IoT will gain real-time unified view of customers and operations for accelerated growth.
Let’s look at the top ways SMBs can benefit from IoT:
1. Saving Money
IoT enables SMBs to reduce overhead costs by optimizing resource usage. Connected sensors provide real-time tracking of energy and water consumption patterns. SMBs can identify waste and adjust systems accordingly to lower utility bills. Monitoring equipment and assets also helps schedule predictive maintenance to avoid costly breakdowns.
2. Getting More Done, Faster
IoT automation and smart workflows minimize repetitive manual tasks. For example, automatically tracking inventory on connected shelves saves retailers hours previously spent on manual stock-taking. Equipping technicians with tablets loaded with remote diagnostics procedures also reduces service calls. Such efficiencies free up time for SMBs to focus on innovation.
3. Discovering New Business Chances
Data insights from connected products and customer engagement channels help identify underserved needs and potential partnerships. A sporting goods SMB may discover from usage data that yoga-enthusiasts need specialty mats, presenting partnership or product possibilities.
4. Making Customers Happier
IoT enables SMBs to boost customer satisfaction through hyper-personalization and rapid issue resolution. Connected loyalty programs can offer customized promotions when frequent patrons are nearby. Field technicians can also remotely diagnose issues to quickly dispatch parts or repairs.
5. Staying Ahead in Business
IoT helps future-proof SMB operations with data-driven insights and automation. Dashboards with real-time business metrics enable faster decisions. Wearables allow on-the-go monitoring and control of workflows. IoT builds responsive and agile operations capable of competing with bigger players.
IoT perfectly aligns with the SMB ethos of using technology for operational agility and customer intimacy. It provides real-time data connectivity across the value chain to drive efficiency, personalization and intelligence. With a thoughtful and phased approach, IoT can help SMBs enhance everything from product quality to customer experience. The time to start is now, before competition takes the lead. IoT is instrumental for forward-looking SMBs to accelerate growth and shape enduring bonds in the digital age.
IoT is transforming healthcare by enabling remote patient monitoring, asset tracking, telemedicine and faster exchange of medical records. Patient data from wearables and home diagnostics provides doctors better insights. IoT also allows real-time monitoring of medical equipment to improve hospital workflows.
For daily life, IoT offers conveniences like smart homes, wearables, voice assistants and smart cars that learn driver preferences. IoT devices like fitness trackers help users monitor health metrics. Smart city applications of IoT like traffic sensors also benefit citizens.
IoT security issues are still evolving, but methods like encryption, user authentication and network segmentation help protect against hacking. Updating device firmware and setting strong passwords are important. A holistic approach across people, processes and technology is key to managing IoT security.
Over 55% of IoT spending will be on software and services as the focus shifts from hardware to deriving value from insights. 5G will also drive massive IoT growth. AI-powered analytics will be ubiquitous. Most importantly, expect human-centric uses of IoT focused on improving quality of life.