Small businesses are more significant than people generally think of them to be. Their contribution in the business ecosphere is of prime importance, as they accounted for 99.3% of all private sector businesses at the start of 2017 and 99.9% were small or medium-sized. This makes it very clear that they deserve the right opportunities to grow and thrive amidst all the complexities that they get to face.
Small businesses run on a stable budget and they need to tap on larger opportunities in order to keep growing. Since all medium and large-sized enterprises in the business environment are now focussing on technology and digital transformation and tapping into the field completely to make remarkable growth, why should small businesses be left behind? The most scalable extension of digital transformation that small businesses can initially afford to begin with is IoT i.e. the Internet of Things.
What is IoT?
Simply explained, the Internet of things is a network of several points that help connect things for collecting data and harnessing it. These points include physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators etc. that can be used to collect data and use it for a technological advantage. The closest a layman can get to understanding what IoT is by looking at the model Uber operates within. Uber is about negating people’s travel woes by collecting data and rendering rides to them.
Talking of some of the most successful IoT business models, it is fair to say that the potential here is unlimited. A business that can successfully identify their niche and run it through IoT can give their competitors a tough run for the money.
A 2017 Gartner report has mentioned that by 2020, the total of IoT devices installed across the world will be more than twice that in 2017. There were 8.4 billion connected things in 2017, setting the stage for 20.4 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices to be deployed by 2020, according to Gartner.
This network of intelligently connected devices and systems in IoT helps companies leverage data gathered by embedded sensors and actuators in machines and other physical objects. Companies use this data to make their consumer offerings better or even extend to setup a new business model based on the data collected.
Large technology firms are partnering up with electronic giants to roll out devices such as wearable fitness trackers, remote video monitoring systems, virtual personal assistant devices that can seamlessly penetrate into the market and help them collect this data to further make their offerings more robust in the near future upgrades.
Implications of IoT for Small businesses
The present hour demands that small businesses become proactive and invest in business models that can help them digitally transform their business model and grow exponentially. IoTs can help small businesses become smarter, minimize their running cost, save on the labor budget, and bring about efficiency in their work process. A wholesome IoT setup can be very beneficial for businesses that operate on a small scale because it will help them tap the true potential of technology in their industry.
Here a few implications of IoT in the small business sector. Let’s explore them.
In-house Monitoring and Security
Small businesses believe in number crunching because they like their budget to sustain for a longer period. In certain geographical locations, manual labour can be expensive for startups and establishments of similar nature. However, security and in-house monitoring are something that cannot be compromised on the grounds of lack of budget or funds. This is where small businesses can harness the potential of IoT to stay ahead of the budget constraint. They can invest in security monitoring systems to keep a check at things around their company location.
Small businesses involved in security business can expand their business offerings and lace their security systems with IoT devices to offer smart security and monitoring services to their customers and gain their trust as well as future purchases.
Small businesses can utilize the power of IoT to gather data from their customers and clients. This can eventually help them make their services and offerings better in the manner they serve their customers. Depending on the scale of their business and the kind of product/service they offer to their customers, companies can gather data at all times. Use of all sorts of affordable sensors and devices can help small and medium-sized businesses to mine and analyze this data.
To improve business efficiency
IoT can really help any kind of business transform their digital model, eradicate the inefficiencies, and function appropriately. The Internet of Things can help businesses collect data that can further help them create solutions for simplifying their business processes. The use of IoT devices can also help small businesses build and enhance relationships with their clients. These small units can use IoT devices to store manuals and information about the products and services that their customers want.
Further, the use of smart IoT devices can help small businesses swiftly take their products and services to the market by monitoring the taskforce at work and removing any time delays. If your small business needs to take care of shipments, the IoT allows for much better tracking in real time. Use of sensors and smart tags can further kill the delay, making your business process more efficient.
Digital transformation of the business
Considering the larger picture, IoT can help small businesses truly transform their digital standing. According to Business Insider, business spending on IoT solutions will reach $6 trillion by 2021. This is obvious because businesses want and need to get their functioning swift and straight. IoT can help them create new revenue streams by collecting and curating data, act upon the feedback data to further improve their customer experience, automate their business processes, secure their digital data, and eventually transform their business without being extravagant.
As per McKinsey Global Institute, Big data is the next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity. Small businesses can tap into IoT and its devices to get a hold on this data, improve the way they work, and make more efficient use of resources and space. However, it is always a constant struggle for small businesses to keep pace with much needed recent investments and yet stay in a budget. Hence, they can rely on getting started with the smallest of the IoT ventures to get into the big game and thrive.
Kiera Hayes is a passionate Blogger and Marketer. She enjoys reading and writing articles whenever she gets time from her work.