5 opportunities the Internet of Things will present for start-ups

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the way we live and interact with our environment, as everything is about to be connected, from your refrigerator to your wristwatches and even a mirror. As stated by Roland Moore-Coyler,Increasing amounts of everyday devices are finding ways to make use of the Internet and the data that flows along it, to have an effect on the lives of both consumers and corporations”. Along with it, is a big market with an estimated 30billion devices to be connected by 2020 and revenues of about $14.4tn to be generated, according to Cisco. The huge bucks lies in the big data that comes from having several ‘things’ connected and communicating over the Internet. As quoted in the Financial Times, few companies are cashing in on the idea at the moment, which leaves a lot of room for you as a start-up entrepreneur, to join the many start-ups that are already flocking to the IoT bandwagon. The following five areas are receiving attention globally as the IoT gathers momentum and as a result, they present opportunities for innovative startups to tap into and provide value while creating new sources of revenue streams:

Security

With increased data that will result from the interactions of people, services and things, hackers will definitely target the IoT to exploit vulnerabilities in devices or systems. According to Ben Lazarus of ft.com, “The easiest [IoT] device to hack is a system that controls door locks, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, garage doors, lights, alarm systems, cameras, and a number of other devices”. The author went further by stating that present developers are yet to address these security issues which could give an hacker a chance to infiltrate the physical realm of a person either by tossing around with light switches or tampering with the security system of a home. There is a lot of revenue to be generated for you as a startup entrepreneur if you can come up with innovative security solutions that helps protect the data shared, not only within people or services, but also within things. As explained by securityinfowatch.com, “Security companies that have grasped this opportunity (that IoT presents) and can demonstrate how improved ROI can be achieved through making businesses and institutions operate more efficiently are growing fast and profitably.”

Data Analysis

If the real money is in the data that will be generated from having everything connected to the Internet, analytics is very critical to its success. According to Roland Moore-Coyler,all these devices transmitting and receiving data are all but useless unless that data can be analyzed and turned into insightful information. Such information can be used by an organization to either identify new revenue opportunities or optimize operations.” The author noted the emergence of smaller business offering product analytics, services and consultancy thereby challenging the services of big IT firms in an article titled“ Analytics critical to success of the Internet of Things”. Consulting opportunities abounds for entrepreneurs with analytical skills and expertise in determining what type of data is important for individual businesses. Also startups that can innovate tools that translates and extracts useful information from noisy data stands a chance of reaping the rewards provided by this trillion-dollar market.

Website hosting, development and design

As written in my previous post on “How to use social media platforms as a start-up entrepreneur”, 3-5billion people are predicted to come online in the next 5years due to the world becoming increasingly hyper connected. This implies opportunities for startups that can provide services, which will assist people in having an online presence. Also, new businesses without a website will have to set up one to make their products or services available to these diverse range of people. Existing businesses will be redesigning their websites to make it more user-friendly and appealing to a much wider audience. As various objects or things are having a place in the Internet now, having a website out there, that offers a product or service, increases your chances of being discovered by these objects in other to make smart decisions. Fridges that can spot a missing or shortage of items and places an order has been cited as one of the many visible examples of the IoT, if your startup offers the product missing in the refrigerator, you need to be on the internet for the device to find and patronize you.

Source: Doug Laney

Marketing

For marketers not worried about being overwhelmed with data, because there will be lots of it as the IoT gathers impulse, providing and receiving value in return is about to get bigger and better. As stated by Monique de Maio in business2community.com, “Marketers have access to an unparalleled amount of information about the habits and interests of their customers, but with the IoT, the data available today will be dwarfed by what will be available to harvest and analyze.” With billions of additional devices and people making their way to the Internet, learning about customers or prospects and tailoring marketing strategies to best meet their needs will become much easier. The ability to connect with a customer on an emotional level, thereby providing the ultimate customer experience will be boosted by the data the IoT will make available to marketers. There will be several channels to reach end users or customers due to the Internet of everything creating more opportunities for e-commerce and more ways to interact with your brand.

Software Development

As various things will be connected to the Internet, there are possibilities of having different software for different use cases. An increase in the number of devices, with smartphones taking the lead as noted by Sally Davies of ft.com, comes with an increase in the number of applications that will run on them to take full advantage of the IoT. According to Sally, “Specialised software and clever algorithms have the capacity to “turbo-charge the IoT”. The author also went further by stating that whoever can successfully chart the relationship between people and stuff might win big just as Google was successful from mapping the world’s websites. According to appdevelopersalliance.org, many opportunities presented by the IoT depends on apps but lack of industry standards, interoperability, data management and integration, are the challenges faced by developers in taking full advantage of the IoT offerings. With several bodies already leading the way in standardizing IoT protocols and languages, chances for huge financial success abounds in building service-based apps rather than device-based apps, as there are potentials for startup developers to charge continual service fees rather than a one-off download fee of device-based apps. Also, opportunities abounds for startups that can get creative in building software that enables the intelligent management of physical things.

These five industries will be massively impacted as the Internet of Things takes shape. The question for startups is no more about when, as the IoT is here and it’s already impacting every home and businesses, it is about how to take advantage of the opportunities it presents and innovate their way to success.

Please do share your thoughts on the IoT, these industries and any other area you feel the IoT will have an impact on, through the comment section below or your preferred social networks.

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