Perhaps you’ve heard of the word “convergence” in regards to today’s digital technologies. Convergence describes the correlation and alignment of key capabilities in the areas of Big Data, Internet of Things, mobile, and cloud to provide more powerful solutions than each technology can provide by itself. This transformation, in turn, helps to drive all kinds of new business models and opportunities. We hear a lot as well about the way enterprises are adopting these technologies, but what about the small business or startup? What can be said about their approach to Big Data, Internet of Things, mobile, and cloud?
In this two part series we want to look at the Big Data, Internet of Things, mobile, and cloud nexus from two perspectives, first as digital technologies that provide clear business value in and of themselves, but then also as integrally related and connected technologies whose business value is greater than the sum of their parts. Let’s unpack what this all means for a small business, and how their leaders can leverage these convergent technologies to drive new levels of business value and innovation.
1. Big Data is not too big for the small business
There remains a common but unfortunate misperception that Big Data is only for large enterprises with big budgets that can afford to invest in data scientists and all the tools and shiny objects to extract the latest insights. The commonly held view is that when the volume, velocity, and variety of your data exceeds your capacity to process, then you have a Big Data problem. The underlying assumption here is that small businesses don’t have a big data problem because they don’t have enough data to worry about. Nothing could be further from the truth! As one analyst has well stated, “Big data is a relative term. Every organization has a tipping point, and most organizations – regardless of size – will eventually reach a point where the volume, variety and velocity of their data will be something that they have to address.” Small businesses indeed can be active participants in the Big Data space, and there are no lack of tools on the market to help them move the needle forward on their strategy plan.
2. Internet of Things is even bigger than Big Data
Ask any IT insider today what’s the biggest tech innovation since sliced bread and they will say Internet of Things. It grows and grows and there’s no end in sight. In fact, as big as Big Data has been, IoT is sure to be bigger. Here’s why. We’ve reached an inflection point in technology development where social, mobile, analytic, and cloud (or SMAC) have made ubiquitous computing possible. Smartphones and sensors and RFID chips are interconnected and integrated in ways never thought possible, giving users instant real-time updates on everything from home heating and cooling to car performance metrics to health fitness numbers. The ability to receive real-time awareness of our physical world and interact with that data through touch-based, wearable, and augmented reality are just some of the many ways that the Internet of Things will exert wide-ranging and disruptive impacts on all levels of business and society. We often hear stats about the number of objects expected to be connected to the Internet by 2020; estimate vary but the point is that it will be in the tens of billions. Internet of Things is huge and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
3. Small businesses are going to the Cloud
Cloud computing has exerted more influence on the business side of IT than any other single technology. Now any business unit with a credit card can connect to a cloud-hosted service in less than 5 minutes for a fraction of the cost and no setup headaches. The impact across IT is truly revolutionary and we can expect this to continue exponentially. Research, in fact, shows a significant level of cloud adoption among SMBs, and this level is growing steadily. The SMB cloud market is expected to reach $32 billion by the beginning of 2016, representing a 19 percent year-over-year growth rate from $18.9 billion early in 2013. Onboarding your organization into the cloud will be a key differentiator that will help keep an edge in today’s fast-paced market. If your business hasn’t adopted cloud yet then it’s already behind the curve. It’s not too late to catch up, but you’ll need to act fast!
4. Mobile is the future of small business (and all business for that matter!)
Mobile is the future of small business and perhaps the future of everything. It’s such a fast moving target and there is so many innovations happening in the industry that it’s hard to keep up with everything. The industry fortunately has moved beyond the well-hashed out debate of Native vs. HTML5 (HTML5 has won the day!) and is now focusing on more central concerns. “Mobile First” is now the paradigm that businesses are adopting, realizing that responsive web design by itself is not enough. In addition, user experience and design for alternative form factors is getting a big push from the wearables market, which got a big push in 2014 and is continuing steadily with the recent release of Apple Watch. Mobile voice apps are also a major trend right now and may well make SMS text a thing of the past. Finally, the mobile market is also going to be heavily impacted by the Internet of Things (already mentioned) and the commoditization of more “endpoints” coming online, which will need to be managed in a more holistic and integrated manner (something called “Unified Endpoint Management”). The mobile space is full of dynamic and exciting changes right now and there are ample opportunities for the small business to innovate here.
Please join us tomorrow as we continue the discussion in part 2.