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September 26, 2016updated 30 Sep 2016 12:37pm

UK SME’s embrace IoT as a way to outshine their competitors

How UK SMEs are turning to IOT to take on the big boys

By Hannah Williams

As the Internet of Things market growth continues to soar businesses have begun to take it upon themselves to cement their place as IOT experts.

Reports show that the IoT ecosystem is estimated to reach a total of 27.8 billion connected autonomous things by 2020.

Today many UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are effectively adopting IoT, which they have identified as a money maker and a way to take on bigger competitors. Some are even seen partnering with each other, all in the name of IoT.

Adoption rates of IoT comes are surging with four in 10 organisations already run fully based on IoT.

Organisations such as Digital Catapult, who recently launched the start of its Things Connected Platform, have begun to make an impact towards the adoption of IoT among SMEs.

The Things Connected platform has an initial focus to support London-based organisations and SMEs, with the network utilising 50 IoT gateways to establish a LPWAN covering Zone 1 across the capital.

Digital Catapult aims to create a national innovation support programme around LPWAN test beds in different UK regions and provide UK SMEs, entrepreneurs and communities with the knowledge and skills to harness the technology.

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At the company’s recent ColLabfest event, methods that would be used to offer help to smaller businesses were addressed.

Ian Collier, Director of Operations at Catapult said: “The HMVC is trying more and more to make assets that are relevant to all SMEs. We’re trying to guide people, and help them not waste their time.”

Collier added: “The HMVC is about building and manufacturing in the UK. There are over 18,000 companies and over 60 percent are all SMEs.”

Beecham Research is working with Digital Catapult to develop the Open-LPWAN Initiative and will be one of a number of other government, industry and academic partners to drive the initiative forward.

Jeremy Silver, CEO of Digital Catapult said: “By enabling the testing of IoT innovation, Digital Catapult Things Connected will enhance the quality of life for those across the capital and further empower London’s impressive and innovative tech community. London is the start, we plan to work with our partners to implement Things Connected in cities across the UK, to help ensure as a nation, we experiment and realise the full potential of the IoT.”

IOT adoption can help imrove the bottom line by cutting costs and opening up new revenue streams.

Despite this, however many businesses are still unsure of how IoT can benefit the business.

In an interview with CBR, Craig Foster, Managing director at HomeServe Labs said: “The benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) are becoming increasingly obvious, especially for consumers, as devices such as smartwatches, smart glasses and even smart thermostats become part of our everyday lives. Applications of IoT technologies are nearly infinite – from securing buildings, controlling thermostats and even detecting leaks, the IoT is also starting to permeate our business surroundings.

Foster added: “However, organisations, especially start-ups, have not yet fully understood the incredible possibilities the IoT could mean to them. Already, small businesses can cut costs by adopting technologies that help them operate more efficiently every day. Yet, in most small businesses, people expect printers and screens to be connected, not their pipes, coffee machines and air-conditioning units.

These smart technologies can help small businesses make significant savings in their day-to-day running, allowing them to reinvest in other more valuable areas, such as hiring and cutting-edge office technology.”

Although, as Vodafone’s recent IoT Barometer suggests, many businesses are beginning to place the Internet of Things at the heart of their operations.

The research, which was conducted among a total of over 1100 companies from around the world has found that a growing number of organisations were using IoT to deliver new products and services, with that number expected to double in the coming year.

An interesting finding from the research is that more and more, the adoption of IoT continues to move from big, global companies into a growing number of small businesses, looking to increase their revenues.

By 2020, it is predicted that LPWANs will provide 26% of the total IoT connectivity market with 345 million connections.

Robin Duke-Woolley, CEO at Beecham Research said: “What is important for the IoT market at this stage pf evolution is that companies can make informed investment decisions based on accurate market information and achievable growth targets and timescales.”

A recent report from IDC shows that 55% of respondents see IoT as strategic to their business as a means to compete more effectively.

More than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of IoT by 2020. This shows that a wide scale of SMEs envision the Internet of Things as a rise in the market scale.

One of the many benefits of IoT is the ability to offer additional services and to also build an on-going relationship with their customers. As a result, IoT deployments are now more accessible to SMEs.

Erik Brenneis, Director of Vodafone Group IoT said: “2016 is the year the Internet of Things entered the mainstream.”

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