I'm sure that by now you've heard a lot about how the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to change all of our lives for good. But, what does it really mean for businesses?
Similar to when wearable technology first emerged in the consumer space, we recognised the potential but the technology was still too new for us to grasp how it can be applied to a real life scenario.
I think we're in a similar place right now with businesses and the Internet of Things. We understand it has the power to disrupt but how does it apply to you?
While every business is different, we recently spoke to more than 300 small businesses across the UK and asked them what the Internet of Things meant to their business and what opportunities they felt it brought with it.
Make more money
As a former small business owner, I understand that when it comes to any new technology or trend, the first questions I ask are "is it going to help my business grow? And importantly, is it going to make an impact on the bottom line?
The good news is that in the UK, small businesses are confident that the Internet of Things can help increase profits. This is testimony to the multitude of ways in which the Internet of Things can help make a business smarter, more efficient and help us make better decisions.
Automation, improved monitoring, data analysis and forecasting are just a handful of ways that businesses can benefit from smart devices and the Internet of Things.
Create New Opportunities
Whenever new technology appears it has both the ability to improve how we do things (as above) but also completely change what we do.
In our research, a whopping 69% of UK firms thought that the Internet of Things would create new business opportunities for them, and it's clear to see why.
When you consider how communications technology is continuing to evolve into 5G and beyond, suddenly our capacity to log, receive and transmit data will be transformed. I firmly believe that the businesses that grab this opportunity early, now, will be leading the way when the Internet of Things is fully established.
Data security might seem like an odd choice to change UK businesses but it is one of the hottest topics around and can be a real differentiator for businesses.
In 2014, hundreds of businesses great and small made the news for data breaches and stolen credentials. Cyber-attacks are quickly becoming the de-facto weakness for organisations of every size and just as the Internet of Things presents us all with an opportunity, it also bestows responsibility.
As our businesses become more connected and the amount of data we store continues to grow, so too must our vigilance. Reassuringly, UK small businesses recognise this fact with nearly 70% of them saying that they will implement extra security measures to protect user data.
In reality, the Internet of Things will continue to elude many small business owners and IT professionals in the near future. However, for the savvy few, who spot opportunities and potential, the Internet of Things is set to change the way they do business forever.