How Iot Can Affect Your Small Business and What You Should Do to Use It to Your Advantage.

By Stasha Smiljanic

The idea that all of your inanimate objects, from clothes to cars, could be connected to the internet sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood movie. While it was once a fantasy that could only exist on the big screen, the years of small hand-held screens constantly flowing information through the world have ushered in the Internet of Things (IoT). The future is now.

This new data ecosystem is constantly growing and changing the world as we know it. By 2020 there will be approximately 50 billion devices interconnected. The sooner you grasp the concept of IoT and understand its overall impact, the faster you will be able to translate its capacity to grow your business. IoT is essentially the internet’s fast-paced evolution.

This so-called ‘’ubiquitous computing’’ could have an enormous impact on our lives and on our businesses. Some of the major players on the market recognize the great potential of IoT… but what does that mean for those of us who are smaller (but just as savvy) players? Will there be a total transformation of the small business world as we know it, where everything revolves around data or do we still have a chance of remaining specialists with a focus on customer relationships? We think that both options are right.

How the internet of things is asserting itself in consumer-driven markets

The most important aspect of IoT is that you can understand your customers better. More and more companies are using IoT to directly connect with customers’ habits and preferences. For example, Samsung can collect data from smart TVs. Uber has developed algorithms that use data from smartphones and sensors to monitor traffic conditions and journeys – in real time. Even if companies don’t manufacture their own data-gathering methods, IoT products can gain access to their customer’s data by using apps and connectivity capabilities on smartphones and tablets. This could lead business owners to better decision-making and quicker reactions to the latest business trends.

Data is the most important asset of modern companies. The secret of survival in this competitive market of endless options lies in recognizing potential and fast implementation of new business strategies. It’s Darwin’s internet, ladies and gentleman. Survival of the fittest.

But those are massive companies – what about small businesses?

IoT encourages companies to rethink the way they approach their businesses, industries, and markets and gives them tools to improve their business strategies. The sheer amount of data available to IoT platform users insures that you can: monitor the overall business processes, save time and money, improve the customer experience, and generate more income. But if you can’t manage and utilize the enormous data flow… well, you are most likely to fail.

The small-to-medium business market has two challenges with sensory and technology providers of IoT. First challenge, the budget – and it is incredibly easy to create budget overruns if you don’t know how to handle data flow boom. Expenses come from infrastructure, data warehousing, big data analytics, devices, staff and external vendors.

A second challenge is data quality.  You have a plethora of information about your customers but do you have an expert who will determine its quality? What if it has no value to your business and what you are trying to accomplish. These issues require smart and strategic planning, staff or external vendors to aggregate and extrapolate your data sets – it will save you a lot of time in this fast-paced field by determining your goals in the beginning.

Go with the (data) flow. What can you do?

Just like IoT, your own business is constantly evolving… So use this to your advantage and go with the (data) flow. What are actionable steps that you can take right away that might help your business grow ?

  • Understand the basics of IoT and how it works. In a simple sense, an IoT platform is a software suite or cloud-based service that enables and manages the connectivity between “things.” We keep saying “things” like it means something specific because in this tech world, it does. There are three basic components to IoT. First, The Things: equipment, vehicles, light bulbs, and the like that are fitted with sensors. Second, The Network: these Things are connected to a private Network or the internet. Third, The Systems: the users with web-enabled devices that monitor or control Things remotely.  
  • Hire a different personal assistant and resolve multitasking issues. If you don’t have a common office space and manage employees and productivity remotely- Internet of things can be your lifesaver. You can communicate with your team better using Slack or Skype. Prioritizing a stronger communication channel will make sure that your information gets to the right place. When it comes to assigning tasks and setting deadlines- you can always use a little help from Asana, Maestertask, Trello or Basecamp. You can even hire yourself a personal assistant for free (technically). Invest in Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device. Scheduling an important meeting will be an intuitive piece of cake for Alexa.
  • Store all your data on the cloud. Data can be stored on the cloud – which means you don’t need the constraints of expensive servers. But you have to be careful about security, as the more opened portals and more interconnected devices with your system means more danger for your data, your operations, and your reputation. Cybersecurity is a very important topic – so take extra care. Many opt to get help from a custom development software company who recognize specific needs and find the right solutions for each company individually.
  • Monitor your competitors and know your customers better. As we all know, the one who has the information drives the vehicle. It’s as simple as that. You should monitor the marketing campaign of your competitors online. Soon you will discover which methods of marketing they are using. At bare minimum, follow their social media. Knowledge is power and knowing what the competition is promising gives you an upper hand. IoT platforms can help you understand your customer’s shopping habits better – so you can offer a more personalized approach, better-targeted advertisement, and better promotions than those competitors.

This is just the beginning – because the Internet of things is evolving at a fast pace. It is projected that by 2020, more than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the Internet of Things, whether large or small. Don’t wait to join the future; be proactive for your business and embrace change in order to meet the future with your eyes open and head held high.

Stasha Smiljanic is a content writer and digital marketing manager for the company WiRe Innovation, LLC based in the Twin Cities. She is very passionate about writing and creating content, interested in the small business world, startups, and entrepreneurship.

Internet of Things stock photo by one photo/Shutterstock