By now, you’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things. What you may not have heard about is its value to small businesses. Maybe it’s time you learned.
The Internet of Things is changing business as we know it, bringing about a fundamental shift in both revenue and service models. It’s already growing at a meteoric pace; according to Business Insider, it will soon become the largest device market in the world, adding more than $1.7 trillion in value to the global market by 2019. It’s not hard to see why, either.
The Internet of Things ties in beautifully to the big data craze. By equipping previously inert equipment with Internet-connected sensors, businesses can get a more complete view of themselves and their customers than anyone ever thought possible. And by analyzing this data, they have the capacity to draw from it a host of downright revolutionary insights; strategies born out of enhanced knowledge and visibility.
Not only that, it opens up a whole host of new revenue streams, adding a ton of longevity and value to products which might otherwise become obsolete in a matter of years. Savvy organizations can charge subscription fees for anything from data storage to analytics to in-the-field updates. This is an incredibly powerful business model, and one with the potential to significantly increase the income of any organization that implements it.
Now, most of you probably won’t be terribly surprised to hear talk that this trend is significantly more valuable to large firms, which already have extensive infrastructure in place (along with some form of analytics platform, besides). The thing is … that’s not entirely accurate. Small businesses and startups that know how to utilize this new set of technologies can gain just as much from them as their larger counterparts, if not more.
“It can be easy to concede early successes in most new tech paradigms to the largest enterprises, which have the resources that small and midsize businesses lack,” writes Shawn Drew of Midsize Insider. “However, according to new research, the Internet of Things is quite different from earlier tech advances, signaling that smaller businesses may now have an advantage.”
Drew does admit that the earliest successes in the sector did belong to larger organizations, since the underlying tech was way too expensive for smaller organizations. However, he goes on to explain that, thanks to reductions in manufacturing and upkeep for connected devices, the industry’s undergone a period of incredibly explosive growth. This growth, in turn, has opened the door for smaller organizations to utilize the IoT.
Drew is himself drawing from research carried out by Gartner, which ultimately predicts that small businesses — entrepreneurs, startups, and inventors — will be a primary driving factor in the proliferation of connected technologies. By the year 2017, Gartner predicts that more than half of all IoT solutions will have originated from a startup or small business. What’s more, many of these solutions will be geared toward smaller organizations, allowing startups full freedom to experiment with the technology.
It’s easy to buy into the notion that large enterprises are the only ones that will benefit from the Internet of Things. Maybe when the technology was in its infancy, that was indeed the case. Today, however, in light of all the recent advances in the field, smaller organizations aren’t just enjoying the power of digital connectivity, but driving their respective industries toward an even more connected world.