IoT Roadmap for Small & Medium Enterprises

by April 28, 2016 0 comments

The key to India’s manufacturing success lies in its SMEs and they form the backbone of Indian manufacturing. Yet, the contribution of the manufacturing sector to GDP is substantially lower in India compared to other rapidly developing economies. With aggressive focus by the Indian Government on ‘Digital India’, ‘Smart Cities’ and ‘Make in India’ to drive the growth and development of the nation, IoT is a powerful driver and force multiplier.

SMEs can reap rich dividends if they adopt technology in the early stage. Sadly, in India selling technology to the SMEs is a hard nut to crack. Dubbed as “silent revolution” by EIU, IoT has finally arrived. It can provide a lot of opportunities for SMEs and by relying on applications and technology SMEs and start-ups can be equally competitive.

Why IoT?

IoT applications can streamline supply chains, enhance customer insight and can manage energy consumption. Small-and medium-sized enterprises must learn to exploit the Internet of Things to make their businesses more responsive to customer needs. IoT presents an opportunity to measure, collect and analyse different variety of behavioural statistics, trends and actions that has the potential to allow businesses to better target their marketing along with overall operational control.

Manufacturing SMEs can use IoT for their logistic and planning process as they carry a huge amount of past data and with all this new information they can not only reduce their inventory costs but also the amount of capital required. Of course there are many challenges, including cost and the quality of human capital involved.

Vendor initiative

With falling technology costs and developments in mobile and cloud big vendors are offering many freemium models dedicated primarily towards small enterprises. Talking about the development of IoT-based products or services, IT and technology firms will lead the way, followed by manufacturing and healthcare, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

Google My Business mobile app aims to bring 20 million Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in India online by 2017. This app helps SMEs create and manage their business information online across Google in English and Hindi for free, without having to invest in a website or a domain. In the last five months of the pilot phase, over a million SMEs have already signed up for this service. Similarly, Microsoft has also launched its cloud adoption program for small and medium businesses in India under the Cloud Solution Providers (CSP) model. So, IoT based freemium services can be expected from vendors in the coming years. Recently, Infosys and GE joined hands for developing new Internet of Things solutions that will help manufacturers and other industrial enterprises to improve asset efficiency and build more intelligent linkages between design, production and field testing.

Investment in new technologies

SMEs need to invest in new technology development like barcode technique, infrared scanning, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and a variety of accompanying application software. Besides this, they need to concentrate on changing their business model and company growth strategies. Business application based on an IoT service allows the company to control the development of the whole industry chain.

When business assets get connected from sensors and other industry devices across enterprise’s infrastructure, then better insights can be generated by tapping into new and existing data streams.

IoT for Product Marketing and Design

Sensors can report exactly where, when and how a product is used to provide input to the design and marketing process. The process of collecting real-time data can be less costly, quicker and more accurate than customer surveys and market research.

IoT and Product Sales

Sensors enable regular monitoring of the condition and usage of connected components, thereby allowing the SMEs to predict when customers will need replacement parts and ensure that they have the right products available in inventory. Proactive sales of replacement parts can also prevent revenue loss to third-party vendors.

IoT for Product Engineering

Monitoring machine condition, settings, and usage allows for adjustments to improve the choice of product materials and design.

IoT for Logistics

Sensors can help SMEs to keep a track on their shipping containers by relaying real-time information on package location and handling condition to warehouse management system thereby increasing efficiencies, and improved customer service.

IoT for Predictive Maintenance

By monitoring the condition, settings, and usage of production equipment, issues that impact the output can be identified thereby increasing up-time and efficiency.

Integrated platform

SMEs should opt for an integration platform with in-memory computing capabilities to provide real-time fail-proof processing of the vast quantity of data produced by IoT systems. This data can be combined with SME’s back-end systems including their CRM, ERP, warehouse management, payment or customer support to automatically trigger notifications or to provide a comprehensive dashboard of all important information. SAP offers many ERP soultions for small and mid size enterprises to help them manage every aspect of their company – from sales and customer relationships to financials and operations.

Cost of IoT adoption

High cost is one of the most important concerns for SMEs when it comes to technology adoption but the costs associated with the IoT is expected to fall just like any nascent technology. The technology is already mature and cheap enough to make IoT products and services without the need for a big upfront investment.

Conclusion

Businesses around the world are piloting the use of IoT to improve their internal operations and stream of IoT-related products and services are being developed. It can unlock a world of potential for the SMEs if it’s adopted in the early stage but companies, which are slow to integrate themselves with it risk falling behind the competition.

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