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How can IoT technology go from buzzword to reality?

Companies may be seduced by IoT technology, but ROI for SMBs in particular will come from understanding how the data will be used first.

The first 20 years of the Internet were about people and applications interacting with it, which is nothing new for businesses today. The next 20 years is about things, devices and inanimate objects, whether that's sensors in lights, video cameras or industrial machinery. But all of the things being connected is the real difference here.

Businesses are trying to make their buildings smarter and make their manufacturing processes more efficient, and they question whether this data is driving a new business model or revenue stream. You've got to get into that actual, specific industry vertical use case: What are you connecting, why, what data has been created and what are you going to do with it?

Internet of Things (IoT) technology is going to create exabytes of new data. If all of that gets back to the cloud or the data center, many companies won't have the network bandwidth to process and analyze it. Most of the data in its raw state is not that useful, such as a notification of a light bulb going on or off. It's really about the data changing its state or the interaction of one state of data to another -- for example, the light bulb went on for 10 seconds because someone walked in a room and the motion sensor got it -- that becomes useful because you can track it. If you can save 20% to 30% in energy costs, even in a small building, that's huge savings and can increase production yields.

How do small businesses buy IoT technology and then reap the efficiency benefits? Small businesses should be asking, "Am I going to get left behind in my business model if I don't look at IoT?"

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