As a business owner, there is a decent chance that you have heard of the phrase "Internet of Things" or maybe its abbreviation IoT. A big problem is that it is difficult to derive a meaning from the phrase itself. What exactly does it mean to be a part of IoT and how can you benefit from inclusion?

At its core, IoT is used to describe the process of connecting to remote sensors to make your life easier. Businesses developed off the back of IoT include the popular Nest Thermostat, WeMo Switch Smart Plug and Philips Hue Smart Bulbs. These are products that allow the user to control devices by way of remote sensors and through WiFi connections or otherwise. Think about your vehicles and home devices embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and connectivity that enables those objects to connect and exchange data. That's IoT in a nutshell.

The cost of developing IoT products used to be prohibitive for small businesses, but that is changing with time and enhancements in technologies, making it possible for many small businesses to more seriously consider getting in on the act. IoT data is important for small businesses, because having exponentially more data around the products, services and customers increases customer interaction and retention. Customers are beginning to expect that you know that your product has failed before they do, which is made possible with IoT. Furthermore, data collected by companies from IoT sensors can earn decent money from the information that is collected.

One real-life application is being played out by a company called Databroker DAO, which is a decentralized marketplace for buying and selling IoT sensor data using blockchain technology. By harnessing its power, a small business may be able to turn generated data into revenue streams. Small and large businesses are both getting in on the act.

"The intersection of IoT and blockchain is enormously promising," says Patrick M. Byrne, CEO and founder of Overstock.com. "For sensor-owning organizations, the ability to use an immutable ledger to store data, ensure its integrity, and provide a clear path to data monetization, is a stellar example of the promise of blockchain. The magnitude and potential value of a marketplace for data-hungry third parties for IoT data is staggering."

Byrne says that the value of the IoT sensor market is more than $600 billion annually and is expected to double within the next 3 years. As such, the potential value of a marketplace for third-parties desperate for data as well as those small businesses providing the data is significant. He is also a firm believer in Databroker DAO to facilitate that growth and new revenue streams.

"I believe that what online retailers like Overstock.com have done for making physical goods accessible online, DataBroker DAO will do for sensor data," adds Byrne.

The opportunity is no longer only in owning IoT sensors and developing applications based on data collected, but also exploiting the data as a new form of revenue in itself.

Published on: Jun 4, 2018