The Internet of Things (IoT) is about big ideas built from lots and lots of tiny devices. But all the excitement around digital transformation fueled by connected systems and the immense amount of rich data they generate makes IoT seem like an opportunity reserved for the big players.
IoT initiatives can appear challenging—even daunting—to SMB clients who view the associated technologies and services as too complex for their current capabilities and too pricey to justify within their limited IT budgets. The truth is, however, that IoT isn't just for the enterprise.
Businesses of any size and type can benefit from IoT solutions. And MSPs are best positioned to deliver the skills and scale to help their SMB clients capitalize on IoT’s vast potential—and the valuable real-time data it generates—drawing on their comprehensive knowledge of their customers’ business needs.
Developing a successful IoT requires diligent planning and a well thought-out strategy. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Define what success looks like
For smaller organizations, a first foray into IoT will likely focus on boosting productivity and improving processes through IoT-driven automation or increasing sales of products and
services enhanced with IoT functionality. An IoT program should always aim to help companies achieve their business objectives and produce measurable returns on investment.
Determine what data is needed
Even IoT environments with a small number of sensors or embedded systems can quickly generate an immense amount of data that can overwhelm system storage and processing capacities. It's important to know what input is needed to meet the established goals, determine where the information lives and limit collection and analysis to only the data that serves clients' requirements.
Start small, but think big
IoT initiatives for SMBs work best when they begin as tightly defined pilot projects focused on a single solution in a limited environment. While it's important to keep trial IoT deployments manageable, partners should also build scalability into their IoT offerings, so they're ready to grow with customers' evolving needs and expectations. Standardizing on a limited set of vendor solutions for devices and networking infrastructure—and building IoT deployments on enterprise-grade cloud platforms with centralized management and built-in security features—will leave plenty of room for future growth.
Listen to the data with an open mind
Sometimes, the key takeaway from an IoT initiative is the discovery that a customer's current business processes are no longer adequate to support their strategy and aspirations for growth. Be prepared to show your customer not only the data that's being collected and analyzed in an IoT environment, but also how that data is being leveraged—and how new approaches and additional technologies might better serve the organization in the long term.
Far from being an enterprise-only space, IoT can be a force multiplier for SMBs. With the power of real-time data, deeper insights and increased visibility into a wide variety of systems and processes, IoT gives smaller organizations the tools to compete with even the largest global organizations. And MSPs with the right networking, cloud and analytic skills are the best equipped to guide SMB customers on this promising IoT journey.
To learn more about how to help your customers implement a sensible IoT strategy, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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