Many of you will have started to hear of ‘The Internet of Things’. But what does it mean for SME businesses?
20 years ago IT experts urged businesses to get on the World Wide Web or go out of business. Now the call is to get ready for the ‘Internet of Things’.
So far, those of you who are wondering, The Internet of Things is a combination of sensors, networking and analytics that can be combined to create greater production efficiency, better quality of life, and a higher level of automation.
Wearable devices such as fit-bit wrist bands are the consumer face of the Internet of Things. But the real opportunity is in the B2B world. It’s already started at home, allowing your phone to switch on your heating or lights when you leave the office.
Big business is already embracing this – they are going to be a lot more responsive and many small businesses will struggle to compete. For example, large companies can now remotely adjust equipment settings for better performance or send an engineer to replace a failing part before the operator even notices there is a problem.
Some of the members of the Business Exposure Group have some interesting examples of how they are now beginning to use the Internet of Things. One member with a vending machine business has outsourced the development of certain printed electronics. So that each vending machine now informs the man with a van full of replacement supplies when stocks are running low, thus negating the need for an office base support team – How much does that save his business?
Another member sells, amongst other things, mouse traps. He has applied a very basic sensor which tells if a mouse needs removing. Instead of selling mousetraps to hotels and restaurants, he has changed his business model to a monthly subscription service. It turns out that low monthly fees are better than fines and damaged reputations. The value is not in the device that traps the mouse, but in the service of removing them once caught.
Some law firms are having tiny circuits placed in their document headers, allowing their authenticity to be checked using a smart phone.
High tech is becoming very affordable and lowering the barrier to entry for many SME businesses. The reality for all of us is that by creating a connected product using the Internet of Things, technologies will create a locked in relationship between you, the company and your customer, making it less attractive to leave and go to the competition.
By 2020, 80 billion devices will be connected to the internet. My challenge and question to you is: Are you ready to take advantage of the ‘Internet of Things’ and its massive growth potential?