Our era is characterised by the emergence and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) computing paradigm, which is propelled by the proliferating number of internet connected devices. With tens of billions of devices connecting to the Internet, enterprises are offered with unprecedented opportunities for deriving and processing information from the physical world, but also for controlling, automating and optimising physical processes using digital systems. Early IoT deployments in industrial settings have proven the merits of this new computing paradigm. This is for example the case for IoT-based predictive maintenance and quality management applications in settings like factories, energy plants and oil refineries. Such applications benefit from the collection of large amounts of data and the deployment of IoT devices at scale.
IoT is not however a game for large industrial organisations only. Small Medium Businesses (SMBs) can also take advantage of sensors and internet connected devices in order to increase the automation, the quality and the cost-effectiveness of their businesses processes. Nevertheless, IoT deployments for SMBs tend to be more challenging than for larger organisations, given that smaller enterprises lack in most cases the equity capital and know-how needed to adopt, deploy and fully leverage IoT technologies.
The most prominent IoT applications for SMBs include:
Beyond these examples, SMBs leverage IoT devices in order to implement new ideas and business processes, which yield IoT technologies an innovation vehicle for their growth.
Contrary to large enterprises, SMBs face many challenges in their IoT adoption journeys, including:
In view of these challenges, SMBs had better adhere to the following best practices and recommendations for IoT adoption:
During the last ten years, we have witnessed a proliferating number of IoT deployments, with large enterprises in the leading edge of adoption. However, SMBs can also benefit from IoT technologies in specific vertical applications, such as retail, healthcare and industry. To this end, they need to overcome several adoption barriers, including barriers associated with cost, business and knowledge factors. Recent developments on ICT technologies (e.g., such as the integration of IoT devices within cloud platforms) provide an essential boost to SMBs that seek to benefit from the pervasiveness and data richness of IoT applications. Likewise, SMBs could benefits from investments in complementary assets like training and business modelling. IoT is here to stay and SMBs cannot afford to ignore its potential.
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