Internet of Things (IoT): Connected devices and machines in small and medium sized enterprises © Photo Credit: LuckyStep -

Internet of Things (IoT): Connected devices and machines in small and medium sized enterprises

The study results are based on a survey among employees from Mittelstand-Digital Zentren which are actively exchanging with numerous small and medium-sized enterprises on a wide range of IoT applications. The research brief outlines the potential and important areas of application for IoT, addresses relevant aspects of decision-making in small and medium-sized enterprises, and identifies the barriers that still exist to greater IoT penetration in the German economy.

The equipment of devices, goods, machines or entire production plants with sensors and their connection via the Internet is referred to as "Internet of Things" (IoT) and enabled by technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Cloud, and others.

The 111 employees from more than 25 centers in the Mittelstand Digital network surveyed for this study are convinced that the implementation of IoT technologies can significantly contribute to increase the operational efficiency and value creation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and improve their competitiveness. They assess that IoT is important across all business units and in a wide range of application areas, with a particularly high potential in production and logistics.

Compared to large enterprises, smaller companies have some specific challenges due to their limited ressources resulting in a lack of IT and management personal with know-how for the conception and implementation of IoT projects. Given their multiple tasks, SMEs are often forced to set other priorities and therefore postpone IoT implementation. Entering the IoT tends to be difficult for SMEs primarily due to a lack of low-threshold solutions and a lack of standardization. Any support in evaluating IoT potentials and offers for practical testing can lower entry barriers and reduce uncertainties.

The Mittelstand-Digital Zentren, which are located throughout Germany, provide comprehensive information and qualification offers for the IoT and have proven to be important contact points for SME from their initial orientation to practical testing.