When you think of the benefits and advances derived from the Internet of Things (IoT), chances are you think of multinational industrial companies, government entities, and the like. These larger organizations do reap massive gains and opportunities from IoT, but they’re not the only ones — small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) can also benefit. Let’s first level-set with what we mean by SMB, then explore when is a great time to start on the path of implementing IoT, and finally, dive into the benefits small businesses can appreciate from IoT.
Before we dig into IoT for small to mid-size businesses, let’s first discuss what we mean by SMB. For the purpose of this article, we’re referencing businesses with a proven business model and a steady revenue stream. In other words, this usually isn’t an early-stage start-up, but rather an established business with a proven track record of delivering solutions to hundreds or even thousands of customers. To really harness the power of IoT, most companies need to already have a solid business plan with demonstrated results.
Many different types of businesses (with varying employee head-counts) may benefit from IoT technology, whether they're a regional restaurant chain or a manufacturer of smartwatch devices, a biometric scanner provider for police departments, or a point-of-sale provider for hospitality and retail companies - even SMBs that provide cattle monitoring devices in agricultural settings.
The key here is that they may not have thousands of employees but do have an established business. IoT for SMBs, then, is simply implementing an IoT ecosystem to support the needs of those businesses and their customers.
Small and mid-sized businesses may also be managed service providers (MSP). However, not all MSPs are small or mid-sized businesses. The ones that we’ll consider SMBs in this context are managed service providers that support multiple regional customer accounts with their IT needs. If you own this type of MSP, you may want to consider exploring packaged IoT solutions that can help your customers address common business pain points that they experience. Some examples may include tracking the location of assets, maintaining the right temperature for medications in a healthcare setting, or keeping perishable food items at safe temperatures. There are many IoT use cases across different industries that have demonstrated what an invaluable resource the Internet of Things is to help businesses of all sizes thrive.
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Implementing an IoT ecosystem is a lot of work, but it offers significant rewards when done effectively. Here are the advantages we see for SMBs that make implementing IoT an appealing prospect.
If you’re curious about what it takes to bring new IoT solutions to market, read our helpful guide to planning a successful IoT deployment.
IoT solutions provide SMBs the opportunity to improve and streamline processes to boost overall efficiency through automation, and possibly reduce downtime. It can also help small and mid-size businesses optimize logistics. For example, regional trucking companies can use IoT devices to identify where their trucks are at all times to improve productivity by optimizing truck routes. And since sensors can provide 24/7 monitoring, small and mid-size businesses can ensure everything is functioning properly at all times and react immediately if any issues are identified.
Learn more: What Are IoT Sensors? Types, Uses, and Examples
Some businesses use IoT to monitor devices that have been placed in remote areas and fix software issues over the air (through OTA updates) instead of relying on expensive and time-consuming truck rolls. Since saving money is often a priority for businesses of all sizes, especially small and mid-size businesses, IoT can be really helpful for the bottom line. For example, maintenance services companies can implement leak detection systems to catch and fix leaking pipes earlier, cutting costs and improving employee safety. Businesses can also monitor things like power consumption and find ways to effectively use less energy, a win-win for the company and the environment.
Through the remote management of temperatures, water levels, power, and other systems in potentially dangerous environments, businesses can markedly improve safety for their workers in their buildings, on worksites, and while transporting goods. IoT solutions can also help monitor unauthorized access to buildings and worksites for security, theft reduction, and employee safety purposes.
IoT doesn’t only offer benefits to back-end processes, but it can also improve more obvious, customer-facing processes. Many customers now expect to be able to interact with businesses from their mobile devices, either through a dedicated app or an automated chatbot. At retail stores, for example, a customer could have the ability to check in on their phone to obtain discounts thanks to the Internet of Things. Advanced businesses are leveraging this technology to better serve their customers and foster brand loyalty.
Learn more: 6 Great Examples of IoT in Retail
We’ve seen firsthand that improving the customer experience can lead to increased revenue, and there’s even some potential for the Internet of Things to support creating new business models entirely. By analyzing the data output from IoT, small and mid-size businesses can determine how to provide increased customer value. This may mean implementing a new monetization strategy like a subscription model, or introducing new methods of engaging customers, like through an app. These powerful analytics provide new insights that can significantly transform businesses and industries.
When businesses develop an integrated IoT infrastructure, it supports organizational growth. Think of this as the outcome of the other benefits listed above. When companies improve efficiency, maximize productivity, trim cost, improve their customer experience, and take advantage of new business opportunities, they are bound to grow as a result. IoT also creates potential for scaling certain types of businesses, including manufacturers who make the solutions SMBs are using.
The Internet of Things offers a world of benefits to small and mid-size businesses. By leveraging the power of automation and advanced analytics that IoT provides, SMBs can improve operational efficiency and reduce costs. They can also improve safety, the customer experience, and engagement and even gain business opportunities that could help grow their businesses. Perhaps IoT could be the accelerator for your business.
Are you a business owner looking to harness the power of IoT solutions to benefit your business? Talk to your managed service provider today about how Zipit can help them meet your needs.
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