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Is your SMB ready for the next Industrial Revolution?

July 2017

The worldwide market for IoT was $16.3 billion in 2016, and is anticipated to reach $185.9 billion by 2023. According to Gartner, there will be over 26 billion connected devices by 2020. What is driving this growth – and how will greater adoption impact small and medium size businesses? Who will be the winners in this brave new world facilitated by IoT? – and – Does your business run the risk of being left behind?

There’s no doubt about it: The Internet of Things (IoT) will fundamentally change the way we experience our world. The smooth functioning of healthcare, finance, transportation, utilities, and households - even entire cities – will soon be dependent on the data generated by IoT. We know that IoT technologies will impact key relationships including people with people, people with things, and things with things. We know it will directly affect the ways that governments, businesses of all sizes, and consumers interact with their physical worlds.

Many are calling the Internet of Things the next Industrial Revolution. It’s a big, pertinent topic. But let’s not boil the ocean today. The two questions we’ll focus on in this article are why are so many SMBs moving ahead with IoT in light of the complexity that it represents, and how will the changes, driven by IoT technology, play out for SMBs who want to leap-frog their competition?

Let’s start with the why. The answer here is pretty straightforward: SMBs are moving ahead with IoT because of value. They see immediate business value in the form of operational efficiencies, better and differentiated customer service, and the ability to rapidly bring new products and services to market.

  • Transparency created by IoT sensors will drive productivity and resource efficiencies in infrastructure and environmental management.
  • Forward-thinking businesses can use the internet of things to optimize processes that reduce excess consumption, leading to improved efficiency and lower cost of operations.
  • Data provided by devices can help determine the best ways to complete a task or process, dropping savings directly to the bottom line, and giving SMBs a significant financial advantage over their competitors.

Now for the how.

Consider this: If you are an SMB, you are part of a vibrant, 200 million-strong market segment. In fact, 99% of the businesses in the world are small and medium-sized businesses like yours. That’s a huge market opportunity for IoT application developers and solution providers to tap into. – Yes. You’ve got their attention. It also means that companies like yours - those who require technological innovations that leverage the agility, simplicity, and reliability necessary to achieve long-term success – will directly benefit from their R&D.

Deploying an IoT solution, however, isn’t for the faint of heart. Many high-profile deployments that have garnered public attention are driven by large, multi-national corporations because implementation often requires pulling together a team to plan, test, deploy and manage just one IoT solution. Even simple implementations can involve custom application development, testing of platforms and devices, as well as an analysis of how device communications are translated.

But – Don’t be discouraged. Solution providers can’t help but be on your side.

In an effort to make SMB IoT a reality, solution providers are beginning to productize IoT solutions tailored specifically for SMB operations. These include fleet management, security and surveillance, point-of-sale, and asset monitoring, to name a few. Use of IoT sensors and cameras brings enriched information to healthcare, retail, financial – truly every industry that depends on real-time data. Customized cameras and digital controls will further automate both business and consumer processes, making ease of use, stability – even automated transportation - a reality. By leveraging these IoT tools, new market expansion or developing new product offerings based on IoT technology, also becomes more attainable for SMBs.

The explosion of data volume that comes from smart phone apps and IoT means that small and medium size businesses will need to find ways to store and mine the valuable information that is generated by related devices. For example, by collecting data on consumer behavior, interests and lifestyles, SMBs can more effectively tailor marketing strategies to meet their customers’ real-time needs.

But before you start collecting all of this data, you will want to know what information is pertinent to your business goals. You will want to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why do we need the data generated by IoT devices? For example, are we using the information to document a process or analyze data for insights like financial performance, employee productivity, or customer profiles?
  2. What is the business process that we are trying to impact? What type of data do we need, and is there a practical method to collect and analyze it? What will our retention policy be?
  3. How can we best apply resources to address the problems we are trying to solve with the IoT?

The IoT is always connected, always on, and that around-the-clock connectivity to products and users gives SMBs like yours the ability to continuously monitor for ongoing/real-time knowledge of the condition and usage of products or users in your market. Because of this continuous monitoring, you can manage - on a real-time basis - pushing upgrades, fixes, or patches, as needed. Constant connection to your customers or employees also gives SMBs a channel to motivate those stakeholders to take action, such as purchasing a product, updating an application, or filing a sales report.

To summarize: The potential of IoT for your business is only limited by imagination and innovation. IoT initiatives that transform data into business value require a new way of thinking about the technology that supports it. You need to recognize that IoT will continue to evolve over time. Planning for your foreseeable future is critical, and creating a roadmap that starts with small IoT implementations, and grows - pending analysis of program results - is an essential first step to facilitate your success.

*HPE has stepped up to take an industry-leading role in creating resources, training and certification programs, and IoT capacity planning that can introduce SMBs to approachable IoT solutions for their businesses. In four unique HPE IoT Innovation Labs, located in Houston, Grenoble, Bangalore, and Singapore, customers can experience a hands-on environment, showcasing real world examples of the Internet of Things in action. The labs provide an easily accessible venue where you can learn about key strategies, build new business relationships and test, real-time, HPE IoT advanced solutions. Access to the labs is also available remotely through a secure VPN. This allows you to benchmark applications or use cases from anywhere in the world. Experience the Internet of Things @ HPE IoT Innovation Lab


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