How the Internet of Things can make your SME smarter

The Internet of Things can make your SME smarter. But what does this really mean? What are the opportunities? We consider 5 questions and answers that concern small and medium-sized businesses.

 

 

1. How does the Internet of Things benefit your company?

Objects or machines in a company–from video cameras and beverage vending machines to vehicles–are increasingly connected in a network. These machines, with their built-in SIM cards, send off data–often wirelessly–for example, camera images or details of consumption. You automatically receive the temperature or energy consumption in your warehouse, or details regarding the rate of customers in your shop. Equally you can allow your customers to pay wherever they are. The Internet of Things is the name given to this concept. It allows you to extract more information from your principle assets, such as buildings, vehicles or stocks. Using such information you can then utilise these assets, such as a fleet of vehicles, more efficiently. The Internet of Things therefore helps your company grow smarter.

 

2. Is the Internet of Things also relevant to SMEs?

Yes of course. The Internet of Things can also be interesting for small companies. If you, as an SME, have an outside view of your fleet of vehicles, for example, you can then use it more sensibly by, for example, adapting your route planning. This increases your efficiency. You are also automatically alerted of any problems. There are also projects that can make a real difference to an SME's business model. A good example is that of the American company Zipcar, that changed its entire business model thanks to the Internet of Things: from selling cars to a car rental service. In our country similar examples are Cambio and Tapazz.com, Belgian companies renting cars from owners based on mobile technology.

 

3. The Internet of Things is not new. What then are the differences in potential compared to five years ago?

It is true that the concept behind the Internet of Things is nothing new. However, the possibilities involved really are. On the one hand, the technology supporting it is more accessible to the SME, partly because the costs of connectivity are decreasing. On the other hand, the possibilities are now more diverse. Five years ago a beverage vending machine gave a signal when it was empty. These days a machine like that can track and share stock levels in real time. And this same machine can also now adapt its prices depending on the weather.

 

4. Is my sector also likely to change with the rise of the Internet of Things?

Certainly. Every sector will change with the rise of mobile technology. Good examples are replacement parts or components in a machine. Companies used to have to order these separately, but soon they will be able to print them automatically using a 3D printer based on data input. This affects very many companies and their logistics, including smaller companies.

To be more specific the energy, health and car industries are also sure to change dramatically. With automatic data procurement more is known about respective energy consumption, health and driving behaviour. The most striking example in terms of impact is the so-called self-driving car. Until recently this was pure science fiction. It is now not far from becoming reality.

 

5. What are the greatest challenges?

Security and privacy are often challenges that are given priority. With all these objects and machines (automatically) dispatching increasing amounts of data, the idea is for this to not end up in the wrong hands.

However, the greatest challenge is probably the trepidation present in many companies–both large and small–in getting started with this technology in the first place. The Internet of Things offers plenty of potential and is more accessible than ever. It is just a matter of seizing those opportunities. 

 

Do you wish to work more efficiently by way of the Internet of Things? Orange is the market leader in the Machine-to-Machine market and can provide you, together with our specialised partners, with tailor-made solutions to suit your individual business.

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