Getting started
with IoT:
Steps for SMBs

Author: Scott Steinberg

Verizon's 2022 Small and Midsize Business (SMB) survey highlighted the importance of investing in technology, with it seen as "a key ally to help them overcome lingering challenges to improve sales, boost talent acquisition, and tackle rising inflation and supply chain issues." An important technology to consider is the Internet of Things (IoT), with IoT revenue forecast to reach $594 billion this year alone, according to CompTIA.

Here's a look at how SMBs can make the most of the technology, including how IoT programming and solutions can help to add value, and where it makes sense to consider adding IoT developments and offerings to your business strategy.

What is IoT technology?

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes a network of devices that, in effect, talk to each other via the Internet. IoT devices are equipped with connections and sensors that allow them to communicate and share information. You may already use many IoT devices—ATMs, fitness trackers, voice assistants are all common examples. Berg Insight estimates there will be 4.3 billion IoT devices connected to cellular networks worldwide by 2026.

Data generated by IoT devices can be collected, viewed, analyzed and used to produce process or business improvements. In effect, getting started with IoT and technology could allow you to see what's happening in your business more readily, spot emerging patterns and introduce far greater context, awareness and insight into customer exchanges or interactions.

IoT use cases for SMBs

Moving on from the theory of IoT technology, consider some common use cases that might be applicable to SMBs thinking of getting started with IoT. Organizations in every field—such as retail, finance, insurance, manufacturing, etc.—are now getting started with IoT programming and technology to help enhance customer service, improve operations and deliver business wins. Here are a few example use cases:

  • Office-based businesses:
    • Installing smart meters or sensors to manage temperature, lighting and security features around offices
    • Placing digital signs to assist with wayfinding, checking-in, room reservations and communicating important information to the public and employees
  • Retail:
    • Deploying automated sensors to enable 24/7 refrigeration monitoring
    • Automating retail transactions with self-service machines and kiosks with on-demand access to popular products
    • Connecting mobile or point-of-sale devices so that customer purchasing habits and preferences can be monitored and analyzed, and/or leveraging real-time analytics and data to track inventory or staffing levels and predict where adjustments are needed
  • Distribution and logistics:
  • Manufacturing and heavy industries:

The advantages of getting started with IoT development

There are many reasons for SMBs to embrace IoT programming and technology, with benefits including:

  • Cost savings: There are a number of IoT devices that can help to reduce costs, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to prevent loss or theft and smart sensors to control utility costs.
  • Streamlined processes: IoT can help to automate mundane tasks, which can not only make your operations more efficient but also enhance the employee experience—an important objective in an era of labor shortages.
  • Greater transparency: Given that IoT is all about devices communicating in real time, it is perhaps not surprising that one of the benefits is an improved understanding of what is happening with your business. This could be insights into employee practices, consumer habits or even the status of important equipment. The predictive maintenance industry is estimated to grow 28.74% annually to be worth $55.34 billion by 2030.

Making the Internet of Things work for you

Getting started with IoT can be a much easier process when done strategically and with a plan. Those looking for simple starting points might:

  • Identify tasks that are repetitive or require manual input (e.g. database entry, invoicing, etc.) that can be automated and outsourced to technology tools
  • Compile a list of business insights you'd like to receive—such as on customer buying habits, sales conversion rates, etc.—that could be answered by data science and analytics
  • Consider where predictive technologies could give you a leg up, such as plotting future inventory and staffing levels or pricing offers to better sell
  • Think about which areas of your organization could benefit from deeper insights surrounding shifts in customer preferences and the marketplace
  • Contemplate where you could use increased visibility into your supply chain
  • Speak with a trusted communications and technology partner such as Verizon about how IoT programming and technology can help you unlock greater cost-savings, improve customer service and maintain a competitive advantage

As you begin to take a closer look at IoT development, remember: There are many ways that small and mid-sized businesses stand to gain by embracing it.

Are you considering getting started with IoT technologies? Find out how Verizon's Internet of Things solutions can help you transform your business today.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.