Understanding the “Internet of Things” for Small Business Owners

by / Wednesday, 17 December 2014 / Published in Technology For Business

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Along with the introduction of the plural generation, mobile payments and pre-election year politics, 2015 also promises more development of the “internet of things”, a concept that small business owners may or may not be already familiar with. According to a Wired.com article on the IoT, the name refers to the increasing spread of networks as well as the proliferation of “smart” devices capable of using the internet to receive and collect information, bridging the gap between the internet and the physical world. How does the internet of things relate to small business? There are many ways that businesses both large and small could be changed by the increasing connection between the web, interenet enabled devices and people in the next few years. Here are a couple that business owners should take into account.

Mobile payment technologies. The news that Apple will be moving into the mobile payment space brought the possibility of widely adopted seamless payments back into focus, as the challenge of balancing retailer concerns with customer calls for privacy has seemingly been addressed by a proprietary app called Apple Pay available on IoS 8. While it remains to be seen whether Apple Pay will break through the barriers mobile payment solution providers have faced in the past or if they will be forced to go back to the drawing board, it seems clear that mobile payments are something that major corporations will be working towards perfecting as mobile devices continue to become more ubiquitous and powerful.

Customer preference information. The internet of things represents the means for marketers to capture an unprecedented amount of specific consumer information culled from their activities in the real world. Location sharing, the concept of “checking in” at businesses, mobile browsing and shopping habits and increasingly, data pulled directly from appliances or apps have the ability to create a much more comprehensive and measurable picture of how customers relate to products.

Integration of mobile, e-commerce and physical storefronts. A business that has more options for customers can reasonably expect more sales opportunities. The better those opportunities are acted on depends partly on the data your business has on the customer gathered from both analytics and interpersonal relationship building. Seamless integration between websites, mobile apps and a wired physical storefront means opportunity for small businesses in the future to present a customer experience that is comprehensive and available 24/7.

The development of a truly wired society based around the internet of things may not be possible within the next five years, but business owners should certainly be aware that mobile and the leap into the physical that it represents for the internet will bring fundamental changes to many aspects of modern life. By being attuned to industry and technology news, business owners can stay on the leading edge and integrate ground-breaking tech into their own business plans.

Photo Credit to Jeremy Keith on Flickr

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