Whatever type of business you run, you may well have heard of the Internet of Things (IoT). But unless you are a large corporation or run a business already reliant on connectivity, it is just as likely you think IoT is not for you.
The same thing happened with websites. Not that long ago, many small or medium-sized businesses didn’t see the point of investing money, time, and resources in creating an external-facing internet portal when the majority of their customers were contacting them in person. Yet only a few years later, it would be unthinkable for any business not to have an online presence.
This all changed with the introduction of easy to use platforms that removed the technical complexity of creating a web page. Picking what was required from a menu of standard features meant companies of any size could quickly and easily create impressive on-line capabilities; even the smallest business could benefit from the opportunity the web would offer them.
The same transformation is now happening in IoT. And just as with the adoption of e-commerce we are seeing small and medium enterprises (SMBs) are on the lower end of the adoption rate; 17% compared to 34% for larger companies, according to the latest IoT Barometer.
This is striking, but not surprising. Similar to the online transformation, smaller organisations might feel exposed to a disproportionately higher risk when they implement a digital strategy.
These risks go hand-in-hand with concerns around the ability to keep-up with delivery-times and security, worries around costs to maintain and develop the actual solution as well as fears around the long-term prospects of implementation.
However, given the potential of IoT, it’s those same small and medium-sizes businesses that could gain a disproportionate benefit by adopting the technology, or even leapfrog their larger competitors.
As well as help the mid-market to offer connected services, applications and analytics, IoT can support them in fundamentally transforming what they offer their customers. It can also help them create new products and services that reduce cost and increase efficiency.
A practical example would be remote monitoring applications, which can dramatically increase productivity by removing the need to perform lengthy manual checks to find the source of a fault. This can allow production to continue around the clock, including overnight.
These applications have a very wide range of uses and can even be deployed in the healthcare sector. In this field, the ability to remotely collect and share accurate medical data from an individual with medical practitioners, in real-time, means increased safety for patients. It also means a substantial reduction in cost and an increase in the number of people supported over a period of time.
Asset tracking is another illustration of the great advantage IoT can offer mid-market businesses interested in digitalisation. Inventory management, as well as tagging applications aimed at reducing loss, theft and spoilage can efficaciously tackle some of the most time-consuming, and costly, issues small and medium businesses face.
As the use of IoT becomes widespread and smaller businesses leverage its potential as a catalyst for digital transformation, it is clear there is a need for high quality, cost-effective and secure IoT applications that are more accessible and easier to implement.
Just as clear is the demand to bridge the gap between the obstacles and the opportunities when it comes to IoT adoption.
That is the reason behind Vodafone Business App Invent; a connectivity-powered platform able to combine a wide range of standardised functions within a rapid application development environment.
A platform where end-to-end IoT solutions can be built and deployed faster, with more functionality and, crucially, less risk than ever before.
Just like the e-commerce platforms did in the 1990s, Vodafone Business App Invent works as a truly accessible launchpad to make it quicker, safer and faster to create IoT applications with connectivity as a base component.
The vision of App Invent for me is a level playing field, where owners of business of all sizes can have the opportunity to access rapid development tools backed by an in-depth understanding of IoT, the marketspace and the regulatory environment.
An effective platform should make their IoT digital journey quick, secure, efficient, and most importantly, possible.
With App Invent we want to take the complexity away from IoT enabled digital implementation. We want to unbox the potential of this technology, making transformation accessible and profitable for businesses of all sizes on a global scale.
The Invent mission, ultimately, is to enable more users to take advantage of the benefits digitalisation offers in terms of data access and process, enabling them to achieve better business outcomes and keep growing.
IoT is so much more than connecting things. Unboxing its power and making it available to more businesses should be the ambition of every leader in the field and it certainly is mine.
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