Big brands are looking at the internet of things (IoT) as a game-changer for their organizations — one with the power to improve the customer experience and drastically improve business operations. Already, IoT is transforming the supply chain, improving asset management, and powering immersive, personalized customer experiences. And just around the corner is a vast array of IoT innovations that leverage artificial intelligence, Big Data, virtual reality, and augmented reality. The future of IoT is undeniably cool, but if you’re a small or midsize business (SMB) owner, you might wonder what IoT has to do with my company, employees, and customers? The answer is: more than you think. IoT is not just for large organizations, and there are ways for SMB companies to leverage IoT to improve connectivity, cost-effectiveness, and customer experience — right now.  

For Starters, IoT Devices are Already Part of Your SMB

Since your business is part of the world, it’s already part of the IoT. At any given time, your business will likely have hundreds of smart IoT devices connected to its network.  IoT devices include point of sale payment systems, smartphones, computers, Wi-Fi extenders, smart TVs, tablets, streaming devices, ID card printers, elevator control systems and a host of other gadgets. For example, you may have IoT medical equipment if you are a dental practice. At this point, IoT use within SMBs is primarily personal devices, such as mobile phones and smartwatches, used by employees and customers. According to an IoT analysis including insights from 10,000 SMBs, as many as 90% of SMB IoT devices are temporary. The study found that while an SMB network may have nearly 300 unique IoT devices connected to their network during a three-month period, only about 21 are permanent IoT devices. As technology adoption within SMBs grows, there will be a pronounced shift towards incorporating IoT devices that provide business value through increased efficiencies, product offerings and strengthened customer relations.  

How SMB is Leveraging IoT

IoT has the power to connect data and systems, leveraged in many different ways. To get your wheels spinning, consider how medium-sized businesses use or plan to use IoT solutions, based on a 2020 poll.  
   IoT Use Currently in Use Plan to Use
   A line of business 57% 30%
   A service for customers 61% 35%
   Automate physical security 63% 33%
   Automate energy and water (smart building) 54% 38%
   

How to Start Leveraging IoT Right Now

So maybe you want in on the IoT trend but aren’t sure where to start. We’ve got you covered. These are some ways you can use emerging technology to level up your business right now with minimal effort:
  • Simplify routine processes and activities: Boost your company’s productivity by incorporating virtual assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa. By streamlining work processes, you and your employees will be able to do more — and focus on higher-level activities.
  • Stay on top of business assets and systems: Proactively monitor connected IoT assets to reduce business risks and control costs with devices for security monitoring, regulatory compliance, energy management, and inventory management.
But just because it’s IoT, it’s not automatically a safe choice for your business. In fact, adding IoT vulnerable devices — such as IP cameras, webcams, printers and routers — can be a risk. If you have an open network, devices may connect, making your company vulnerable to cyber attacks.  So make sure you’re following cybersecurity best practices to reduce your risk exposure. Some best practices include securing your network, creating a “guest” network for your IoT devices, buying from manufacturers who prioritize security, installing network security software, and using a virtual private network (VPN).  

Using IoT to Make More Money For Your SMB

Maybe you want to jump ahead to the part where IoT can help you make more money. That’s totally understandable — who doesn’t want to increase company profits? Two main ways to boost company revenue are to use IoT to get closer to your customers, and to use IoT within your products. 
  • Deepen customer experience: Does customer data and relationships drive your business? If so, IoT can provide a lot of value to future success. One significant factor is a more holistic understanding of customers. Why does this matter? Well, in-depth information about buyer preferences helps drive personalized experiences with higher closure rates and more repeat purchases. In retail, popular applications are tailored offers based on past behaviors and prompts based on in-store location.
  • Expand your product line or product features: By using IoT to provide connectivity and tracking to your device, your business can boost its profits. For example, if you add an IoT sensor to a product, you may be able to ask for a premium price — and if you provide tracking services, you may be able to charge a monthly service fee. 
Of course, there are some security concerns, especially in keeping customers’ financial and health data safe, so make sure you have your robust security measures in place to avoid liabilities. Another aspect to consider as you venture deeper into IoT is the strength of your network. While current IoT technologies are likely supported by your existing network, wading deeper into the IoT will most likely require a faster network — such as 5G.  

Your Partner in Emerging Tech

We’re focused on the success of your brands and helping you navigate the complexity of emerging tech and what it means to your business — now and in the future. Contact us about custom software solutions that can help you leverage IoT without compromising the security of your business’s or clients’ data. Our SOCII Type 2 Certification for data management is just one part of our commitment to managing your data securely. We also continue to innovate our development processes to ensure the best and safest outcomes for you and your business.

Are you ready to get started?