The Internet of Things can improve the management of your business
“The impact of the Internet of Things on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is going to be very big since it can be applied to several areas such as production processes, communications, logistics and security. Also because implementation costs are relatively low,” affirms Daniel Sanhueza, brand consultant at Fixer, a Chilean Marketing and Digital Communications firm.
In 2015, there were around 10 billion devices connected to the Internet and by 2020 there will be at least 34 billion, of which 24 billion are expected to fall within the ecosystem of the Internet of Things.
It is essential for SMEs to harness the advantages that this technology has to offer to become more efficient businesses, especially with respect to production processes. It is also a way to differentiate from competitors.
The variety of articles, products and services that the Internet of Things covers is still unimaginable. From a special sensor managing crop irrigation based on the humidity detected in the soil, to an intelligent backpack used to carry different devices with discs to store multimedia material, to multifunctional robots and houses managed through smartphones.
Practically any object can be part of the Internet of Things technology insofar it incorporates a bit of intelligence though a mini computer and has wireless Internet connection. We should distinguish two types of uses: on the one hand, everything related to providing practical solutions to businesses so they can optimize certain processes; and on the other hand, everything relating to items used by individuals in their daily lives.
A recent article in The Pulse of IT reviews the different areas where SMEs can benefit from the Internet of Things:
- Retail: Useful for guarding against theft and also to help businesses with marketing, communications and transactions, among others. For example, by sending personalized offers to cell phones or anticipating products that should be restocked through sensors alerting on the lack of certain food or supplies. Also, to make mobile phone payments or using sensors for increased security at locales.
- Industry: Data connectivity can provide factories real-time equipment performance monitoring, assess the availability of materials, evaluate energy use and increase efficiency of supply and demand chains. This way, manufacturers can collect data and adopt – or change – production strategies at an increasing rate.
- Health: Some healthcare companies such as dental clinics are taking advantage of it to lower costs, facilitate the work performed by medical staff and to raise the quality of care for patients. This helps companies make better decisions about resource allocation, and improve patient experience, through data management. For instance, there are apps and software that provide real time data on use of medicine, physical activity and sleep study measures.
Internet of Things advances and represents cultural and technological challenges for SMEs. Specialists are talking about a “third industrial revolution,” or at least of a transition to “a new era of integration.” The key, as in all processes of change, is the ability to anticipate and reap the benefits.
A study prepared by the consulting firm Gartner indicates that startups are the ones that will boost the acceptance, use and growth of the Internet of Things through the creation of several niche apps and by leading in identifying several innovative solutions.
Sanhueza suggests using tools for the benefit of clients and the company; and to not confuse the tool with the strategy. “One has to identify the problem and then seek the way to solve it and assess whether the Internet of Things is applicable,” he adds.