Hide this You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Unlocking Opportunities For Startups And SMBs With Digitization

Unlocking Opportunities For Startups And SMBs With Digitization
Image credit: Shutterstock
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Technology has changed the way we work and live. Businesses are becoming more efficient, consumers are making better-informed decisions and whole industries are being transformed as the real impact of technology becomes clear. From healthcare to transport and beyond, the shift to digital ways of thinking is helping to streamline processes, remove inefficiency and create better experiences for patients, passengers and the general public alike. 

Today, around a billion devices are connected worldwide– which is still less than 1% of the potential total. At Cisco, we believe that number will grow to 50 billion by 2020. From buildings to buses, energy grids to wildlife, everything is being connected. Almost everywhere, opportunity awaits– not just in tech-friendly vertical sectors such as energy and retail, but also in arts and entertainment, manufacturing, agriculture waste management, financial services, real estate, and education, to name a few.

The Internet of Things (IoT), the networked connection of devices where we are today, is the foundation for the next wave of the Internet of Everything (IoE), which will connect people, processes, data and things, creating unprecedented opportunities. These trends are introducing a new era of technology that will transform nearly every industry including the SMB segment to change the way we live and work.

BENEFITS OF DIGITIZATION FOR SMBS
IoT brings networking technology to places where it was once unavailable or impractical but the challenge for companies is to build the right infrastructure. Small businesses face changing requirements of scale and data management, and need standards-based infrastructure that is highly secure and interoperable.

The connection of devices, machines, and things allows small businesses to dynamically generate, analyze and communicate intelligence data, increase operational efficiencies, and power new and greatly improved business models. The IoE is creating value by lowering costs, improving employee productivity, generating new revenue avenues and enhancing citizen benefits. For SMBs, the benefits include improvements in innovation, supply chain and asset utilization.

To achieve the immense business benefits afforded by the IoE, SMBs need a highly robust and secure network infrastructure. They need to converge unrelated networks, scale to meet increasing traffic demands, employ advanced data analytics and inspire a new class of intelligent applications to increase productivity without sacrificing security.

In order for SMBs to develop business agility, they will need to deploy solutions to manage and store data in the cloud and data center that can improve productivity and operational efficiency today, while laying the foundation for tomorrow’s IoT opportunities. With IoT, organizations can expect new operational efficiencies, improved safety and security, distributed intelligence and control, faster and better decision making and new business opportunities and revenue streams.

The benefits of digitization and connectivity will be enormous -greater efficiency and economy, better end-user experiences, greater usage of assets and clearer views of the business- but they will be constrained by a global talent gap in ICT, unless the global community takes action to train and educate more people in the technical disciplines. Middle East governments need to deploy policy and training programs to help solve the region’s fastest-growing gap in networking professionals.

ROAD TO SUCCESS
IoE is not only a great leveler for businesses –small and large– but for consumers and governments alike. It’s a call to action- to be innovative, collaborative and ambitious. Once companies become digital they have the opportunity to completely reimagine their business models to connect people, process, data and things across industries, cities and countries to realize new economic value.

Ultimately, however, we believe the IoE will have a much greater impact on the world than the Internet did in its first 20 years. We think the possibilities of the IoE are limited only by imagination, and it will prove to be the most significant technological revolution in history.