The Internet of Things – Not just a consumer gimmick

The latest hot topic to sweep the technology space is the Internet of Things. Market research firm IDC predicts that the installed base of the Internet of Things (IoT) will be approximately 212 billion connected devices globally by the end of 2020. Is it just for consumers and enterprises or can SMBs also benefit from the capabilities that this new technology offers?

What is IOT?

Mix the falling price of technology with ever increasing opportunities to develop and collaborate, and you end up with what critics are calling the latest hot topic in tech. The Internet of Things, or IoT as it’s often referred to, is being hailed as the ‘next big thing’, with technology companies clambering over each other to utilise the innovation to give life to every day solutions.

In a nutshell, IoT is the process of connecting everyday physical objects to the Internet, enabling them to transfer data and communicate with other devices. Ever get annoyed when you run out of printer paper in the office? Utilise IoT to monitor your stock levels and you could receive a notification when you need to buy more, or even create a command whereby more stock is ordered on your behalf automatically when it drops to a certain level. It all sounds pretty futuristic, but market research firm IDC predicts that the installed base of IoT will be approximately 212 billion connected devices globally by the end of 2020.

So, consumers can use IoT, but can SMEs use it too?

The majority of the technology for IoT has been around for some time, it just needs to be applied in the right way. But IoT isn’t just resigned to consumer only technology – SMEs can also use it to their benefit. Businesses can revolutionise their internal processes, such as the way they track engineers and how they deploy and monitor certain devices, for example a device sending text messages to alert an IT manager when it needs servicing. Implementing IoT into a business can provide better levels of customer care and after-sales service, allowing companies to offer more services and add value to their customers whilst making the most of the latest technology.

In addition it can help a business streamline their own internal processes and identify where costs can be reduced, as well as increase customer satisfaction levels. There are just a few things businesses need to consider before implementing IoT.

• Is your business really secure? Adding intelligent technology to your business might sound great, but with the increased flow of data between the cloud and your internal infrastructure, if you aren’t secure, you face putting your data at risk.

• Would you know how to manage the new technology? Your business could benefit from the use of new technology, but you need to know how to manage it first. Training IT departments and users needs to be the place to start.

• Can your IT infrastructure cope with the new volumes of data? Utilising IoT in your business will create copious amounts of useful data. You need to ensure your current IT infrastructure will be able to withstand the increase in the flow of data and that you can analyse it to your benefit.

• Does your business model need updating? If you’re changing in-house processes and streamlining your systems then your company strategy might now be out of date. Refresh it at implementation to best predict how you’ll benefit.

IoT isn’t a fad, and it isn’t limited to just consumer-only technology. There are plenty of opportunities for B2B SMEs to use it to their own business benefits as well as to provide a better level of service to their customers too.

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