How to Implement IoT into Your Small Business
This year is as good a year as any to start thinking about ways to deploy (IoT) technologies in your small business. According to Vodafone’s IoT Barometer 2017/18, IoT is currently used by 29% of organizations across all industries. Some industries, such as retail, healthcare, and manufacturing, have been leading the pack when it comes to adoption rates. Other industries, such as energy and utilities, or the automotive industry, are catching up quickly.
The overall picture shows that you can start using IoT today and still not be too late for the party. In fact, you might be getting there at the time when things are heating up. According to the Cradlepoint Business Intelligence Report “The State of IoT 2017-2018”, 69% of companies already use IoT or plan to do so in the next 12 months. If you see your small business among the two-thirds of businesses who are getting serious with IoT, here are some things you should keep in mind.
Think About Staffing
The Internet of Things is a disruptive technology. By deciding to use it, chances are that you’re signing up for a change in the way you do business. That’s great because the desired outcome of disruption is an improvement. But as technology allows us to get more efficient, it also decreases the demand for some types of work. This usually leads to the elimination of lower-paying jobs, and creation of new, higher-paying ones.
But you shouldn’t start laying off people right away. In fact, you might not even need to fire anyone at all. Your business can grow and even out the number amount of people it needs. You can promote people or train them for the new, advanced jobs. The way to handle this is up to you and your circumstance. However, it’s important to understand that you’ll need someone with a completely new skill set who will guide your business through the implementation.
Many new professions emerging from IoT don’t have a job title yet. You can even look at websites that provide sample cover letters, and you won’t find a single reference. Still, the position that’s critical for you to fill early on is what is sometimes described as an IoT Business Designer. Simply put, you’ll need a person who will find the areas that can be improved using IoT. A person who will analyze the cost-effectiveness, and design implementation. Without such a person, your business will be in danger of being too cautious and missing out on opportunities. Or, it can end up with a lot of tech that does absolutely nothing for it.
Take Security Seriously
The number one concern with IoT is security. Most members of the industry are keenly aware of it, and so are the businesses that have already implemented IoT solutions. IoT is an attractive target for malevolent individuals and groups for the same reasons that make it great. IoT uses a large number of relatively cheap sensors to monitor a large number of variables. Hackers use a large number of devices to launch DDoS attacks. IoT networks gather a staggering amount of data that are used for tracking and analytics. Hackers can use the same data to steal or damage property. IoT devices allow control and automation of processes. Hackers use the same devices to disable those processes.
IoT security is one of the main reasons why IoT adoption hasn’t been as quick as it was predicted a couple of years ago. The threat is real, and the industry hasn’t been quick enough to respond to it. But that doesn’t mean the industry has been quiet. Every major manufacturer has been looking into ways to beef up the security of its devices. Service providers have been doing the same. In the United States, the government is getting involved with legislature proposals.
There are two components of IoT security — the human and the technological. If you want to stay as safe as possible, you need to address both when implementing IoT solutions. Using equipment from manufacturers with a good track record is one thing you can do. Ensuring your network is protected by a firewall in another. Using safe storage options for the data you collect is also in there. But so is remembering to change the usernames and passwords on the devices you own. That alone would have prevented the Mirai attack, for example. And finally, you should develop an interest in IoT security and follow news about latest attacks and latest security features.
We are already seeing that IoT is a technology that can help businesses run more efficiently and grow. In general, IoT solutions have a decent return on investment. But if you want IoT to do the same for you, you can’t just dive in head first and hope for the best. Your implementation needs to be precise and deliberate. And it has to be performed in a way that doesn’t leave gaps in security.