The move from cash economy to digital economy is no more a myth but a reality in India. Thanks to the demonetisation drive, which ushered in the era of digitisation in the country, we see every business, big and small experiencing technological disruption. Digitised processes, products and services have created a new level of efficiency and enabled completely new business opportunities. Another aspect impacting business is movement towards ‘connected everything’ with the adoption of innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) for staying competitive and enhancing customer experience.
At its most basic level, IoT is the idea of connecting physical objects, or ‘things’, to the internet. These objects deliver information or data that can be used to create new experiences and improve the way we live and work. More and more data is being generated by ‘things’ rather than by people, largely due to high smartphone penetration, expanded internet connectivity, continuously declining costs of sensors, bandwidth, and storage as well as tremendous governmental support for IoT initiatives.
At the same time, new ways to analyse this massive data are becoming available in the market. BCG claims that the IoT’s real value from the customer’s perspective are IoT services, IoT analytics, and IoT applications and predicts that these areas will capture 60 per cent of future IoT spending.
Organisations across all industries are realising the huge IoT potential and are thus making strategic investments. While large organisations enjoy the advantage of deep pool of resources in capital and rightly skilled talent pool, the SMEs struggle to keep their budgets and margins in place. However, one advantage the SME’s enjoy is agility. They can easily transform their products to accommodate the requirements of their customers. And this is where the power of IoT lies. IoT is helping various sectors to decrease operational costs and improve overall efficiency. SMEs will mostly utilise IoT to generate more data that enables them to better interact with customers.
A good starting point for SMEs is to check out the various government grants available for small businesses seeking to innovate themselves technologically. SMEs who want to tap the data can strategise and identify useful data points, and experiment with free or low-cost alternatives before committing additional resources. Options like Google analytics account or investing in paid cloud services are commitment-free alternatives to test the usefulness of big data for optimising a business. IoT platforms are becoming indispensable for SMEs. Security risks may seem daunting for SMEs who want to take on IoT solutions. Today, there are many security solutions like advanced firewalls that encrypt networks for data security. SMEs can also start with investing in office hardware products that are “future-proof”. Some office hardware products today have IT security features to cater to forward-thinking businesses in the age of big data.
Advancing from ‘products’ to ‘connected products’ with IoT requires up-skilling employees and cultivating an innovative culture that constantly seeks to transform existing business models. Taking on innovation in-house can be quite challenging with lean resources. SMEs can take help from IoT service providers offering end-to-end IoT portfolio, including the platform to solutions to managed services. However, selection of the IoT service providers will need a lot of due diligence and goal alignment.
Today, SMEs are better positioned to take advantage of their lean structure to adopt IoT solutions that will highly optimise their businesses. All they need to do now is to take the first step in their quest to jump on the IoT train.