Published February 13, 2017 on Inventopreneurs“How the Internet of Things is Shaping the Competition in Your Industry”

If there’s any one particular phenomenon that should be on the minds of every single business owner, regardless of their industry, it is connectivity. Coined, “the Internet of Things,” or IoT, this trend refers to the virtual inter-networking of products, devices, structures, vehicles, or anything else in the physical world.

Connectivity between objects and devices is made possible with a wide range of electronics, sensors, software, and network connections. This technology is rapidly infiltrating every aspect of day-to-day life for both businesses and their consumers.

Connectivity is the Future of Nearly Everything

Forward-thinking businesses are advised to start considering methods for plugging into this increasingly hyperconnected world of products and services. Here’s just a small sampling of the ways that the Internet of Things is shaping the world we live in, from small scale to large:

  • With wearable sensors and implanted medical devices, consumers quantify information about their own bodies, such as vital signs or physical activity, and track this information to make smarter lifestyle decisions.
  • Homes are becoming “smart homes” with interconnectivity between security systems, light fixtures, garage door openers, thermostats, and so on. One fixture or appliance can communicate with the others, and all of them can now be controlled from a mobile device.
  • Companies are getting more efficient, accurate, and automated thanks to connectivity among their devices, equipment, and products.
  • Connectivity within a business can reduce or eliminate numerous manual data exchange processes. This automation allows businesses to increase production and reduce labor costs.
  • “Smart cities” benefit from the Internet of Things with sensors embedded in structures such as highways, parking lots, and buildings. These sensors transmit information about things like traffic, parking availability and structural stability.
  • “Smart grids” drive down the cost of powering communities.

From media, to infrastructure, to environment, to manufacturing, to medical, to transportation, the Internet of Things will continue to make everything smarter and more connected.

How to Stay Competitive

The IoT will inevitably cause profound shifts within your industry or reshape it entirely, if it hasn’t already begun to do so. So what can you do about it?

How the Internet of Things is shaping competition

Smart technology can empower you to both serve others and serve yourself. Start investigating opportunities for your business to either meet a need in the market using smart technology or to improve your own productivity using smart technology.

The most important questions for you to consider are how the IoT will impact your particular industry and what actions you need to take in order to stay competitive. Here are some examples of the types of IoT related questions you should be considering for your business:

  1. Can I increase efficiency within my business by making my equipment or devices more connected and my data collection or exchange more automated?
  2. Could I benefit from some type of BI software or sensors that collect intelligent data about my business and customers in order to help me make smarter business decisions?
  3. Do I have a product or service that could be more appealing to my customers if it was “smarter,” more intuitive, and more easily controlled?
  4. Should I look into custom web app development and offering a smart product?
  5. Are my IT personnel ready to take on the extra workload of making sure that the influx of interconnected devices within my business stay updated? Will all the extra data generated from those devices be securely stored and backed up?
  6. Does the Internet of Things have the ability to threaten my business offerings or make them obsolete?
  7. How can I take advantage of this technology to disrupt my own industry before someone else does?

If you’re struggling with the thought of keeping up, just remember that these technological developments present tremendous growth opportunities for your business. Over the years of working with hundreds of mid-sized companies to develop business solutions, we’ve seen time and again that those who embrace the challenge to reinvent themselves continually reap the rewards.

With the sevenfold growth in global internet access between 2000 and 2015, and projections for 5 billion users by 2020, the possibilities for business growth, new businesses and industry disruption by IoT are virtually unlimited. Furthermore, more web app development tools are available now than ever before, making the promise of new web-powered products and innovations more accessible than ever.