The Internet of Things is drastically transforming the way society functions, offering exciting new ways for consumers and businesses to interact and perform specific tasks. Commonly referred to as IoT, the umbrella term refers to the interconnection of computing devices embedded in everyday objects through the internet, facilitating the rapid exchange of data.
For the past 19 years, IoT has been used amongst tech circles as a means of informing new innovations which take advantage of the internet’s capabilities. However, it has only been in the past 12 months that wider society has begun to embrace and take an active interest in the potential of IoT.
This recent surge in consumer interest may be attributed to the mass proliferation of IoT enabled devices. And there are no signs of this slowing down anytime soon. The statistics are truly remarkable – a report from BI Intelligence this year projected that there will be more than 55 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from approximately 9 billion in 2017. Furthermore, it forecasts that there is going to be nearly $15 trillion worth of investment into IoT technologies between 2017 and 2025.
The average Western consumer is no longer ignorant of the latest digital trends, and as a result of their tech savviness, there now exists a heightened expectation for new products and services to effectively adopt IoT where possible. A recent nationally representative survey of over 2,000 UK adults by Studio Graphene found that nearly one in four (24 per cent) of consumers have switched loyalty from one company to a competitor whose technology delivers a better customer experience. Moreover, 59 per cent of consumers said they would leave a business’ website within just 30 seconds if it is ugly or hard to navigate and uses ‘bad tech’.
For over four years, Studio Graphene has been helping scaling businesses ensure they are taking full advantage of the existing technology on offer. Whether it be streamlining a process through an engaging and intuitive app to improving internal efficiency, we have developed tech-based solutions so that they are effectively using IoT. So why should startups and SMEs be looking to IoT?
Welcoming the next generation of IoT enablers
IoT technology is growing at an exponential rate due to its ever-increasing popularity and continued integration into business and consumer markets around the world. The rising number of IoT enabled devices naturally demands cutting-edge technology that is able to handle the gigantic volumes of data being processed every second. Tech companies have responded, and there are already some really exciting developments in the IoT space.
The impending launch of 5G in the UK will increase data transfer speeds, upgrading the country’s existing network infrastructure so that it can support the growing number of smart devices entering the market. Moreover, the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers are making the switch to Bluetooth 5 to support the connectivity capabilities of their new products. This latest iteration of Bluetooth increases the range over which devices can be connected to 200 metres, while also halving the amount of time it takes to transfer data and increasing bandwidth.
Such innovations can dramatically change the way a business operates, whilst also ensuring that their product or service caters to the heightened expectations of consumers. As more and more companies begin to effectively adopt IoT technology, young startups and SMEs cannot risk overlooking the benefits on offer. Doing so will put them a step behind their competitors.
No company is too small
When it comes to the latest digital trends and innovations, early-stage startups and SMEs can assume that the cost and expertise involved in implementing these new technologies is beyond their reach. Whereas this may have been the case over a decade ago when large corporations dominated the private sector, the changing nature of the business environment has made these latest technological developments much more accessible to small companies.
Unlike larger companies, SMEs are leaner, flexible and demonstrate an open willingness to try new things in the hope of improving their operational efficiency or engagement with their customers. Moreover, they can readily adapt to different situations – something a large company with multiple bureaucratic layers would struggle to do. In fact, by embracing IoT solutions, small businesses can improve their operational efficiency and drive down costs, such as monitoring stock levels at warehouses and managing the manufacturing of products.
Improving customer engagement
The application of IoT solutions can only be determined by the individual USPs of each company. However, a common area that greatly benefits from IoT enhancement is customer engagement. This goes beyond simply using the technology to target a wider audience for your business; rather, IoT can be used to vastly change how a company engages with a customer or prospect through a more personalised delivery of service.
IoT devices can process huge reams of data in a matter of seconds, allowing businesses to better understand the demand and preferences of their customers. This information can then be used to improve customer loyalty by promoting cleverly engagement as opposed to bombarding them with irrelevant advertisements and mass marketing campaigns. Take, for example, Taco Bell. The US food chain has teamed up with traffic and navigation app Waze so that its existing customers can be notified of deals and targeted rewards when driving past a Taco Bell store.
Taking advantage of IoT
The versatility and flexibility on offer through IoT means that such technology can be applied across a diverse range of different circumstances. Moreover, it is important to understand that IoT adoption can lead to a systematic change in how a business functions.
Regardless of sector or industry, IoT is transforming the way businesses operate, both in terms of their internal operations and external engagement. With the digital literacy of consumers rising, startups and SMEs must exhibit a willingness to consider and adopt IoT based solutions. Having worked alongside countless number of scaling business advising them on their technological needs, it is evident that there a very few areas that could not benefit from digital enhancement.
The world is rapidly changing, and as IoT and AI innovations take hold of society, businesses must ensure they are keeping up with the latest trends. Doing so means they are ideally placed to reap the many benefits on offer from digital adoption.
Anybody who is either in the process of starting a business or is looking to launch a startup in the future cannot afford to overlook the advantages on offer through IoT. Virtually all startups today are built around technology, and consumers are now expecting these latest digital trends to be embedded in new products and services.
At Studio Graphene, we have seen first-hand how important it is for startups to effectively embrace and integrate new technologies such as IoT from the outset. Small companies should not be deterred from using IoT solutions; instead, they need to understand how these digital solutions can be used to their advantage.
Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director, Studio Graphene
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