Linksys, the connected home and business division within newly merged Belkin International and Foxconn Interconnect Technology (FIT) entity, released original survey data highlighting current trends and attitudes around small business’ early deployments of IoT as well as the state of their network infrastructure. The survey, conducted by Informa Engage, was released during National Small Business Week, an annual event dedicated to recognizing the nation's top small businesses and entrepreneurs led by the U.S. Small Business Administration. According to the findings, SMBs need to rethink their IoT strategy to include making the necessary network investments before implementation.
“The benefits around security, energy efficiency, and general productivity that IoT devices offer are just too important to ignore and we expect their proliferation to continue. Each IoT device continuously adds growing bandwidth requirements a network must accommodate. Older networks were not designed with this in mind and adding more IoT devices here can seriously impact the overall performance of the existing network. Therefore, it’s critical to have a robust network infrastructure that supports more capacity, better QoS controls, enhanced security, and more efficient WiFi to properly manage the additional traffic and ensure reliable operation with less downtime,” said Maggie Curran, vice president of sales, Belkin International. “As businesses continue to expand and grow into these integral new areas of technology, the investment need for network upgrades that guarantee critical business operations continue uninterrupted becomes key.”
“Most respondents (69 percent) believe leveraging IP-based building automation within the next three years is very important for their organizations. Unfortunately, half cite network infrastructure and management limitations as the primary deterrent to making progress in that arena,” said Kristin Letourneau, PhD, director of research, Informa Engage.
Six key takeaways for small businesses emerged from survey responses:
- Outdated Networks Won’t Support Endpoint Growth and Will Hamper IoT Implementations. The typical respondent reports managing an estimated median 98 endpoints on their organizations’ IP network, and anticipate adding a median 50 endpoints during the next three years. The survey also revealed that small businesses are using very outdated wireless networking equipment (eight years old) despite being in the process of adding more endpoints. For those who don’t upgrade their network, there will not be enough capacity to accommodate more endpoints, resulting in downtime and unexpected delays.
- Limited Investment in Network Infrastructure in 2018. While only 45 percent reported increasing network infrastructure budgets year over year (2017-18), virtually all (94 percent) will be adding endpoints by 2021. As small businesses add more endpoints and deploy IoT, it’s critical to expand the network with more management and better QoS controls in order to get to a level where IoT can be more acceptable.
- Limitations in Current Network Infrastructure and Management is the #1 Deterrent to Deploying Smart Office Solutions. 49 percent cited the main deterrent to deploying IP-based building automation solutions is concern with limitations in network infrastructure and management. Specific reasons cited include: network architecture and maintenance exceeds staff expertise or working capacity; network infrastructure not equipped for added power draw (PoE); network infrastructure is not sophisticated enough for QoS requirements; and network infrastructure can’t accommodate more endpoints.
- Office Safety is a Top Priority for Businesses. According to the survey, 69 percent of small businesses have immediate need or near term (within 3 years) consideration to deploy IP-based surveillance systems and 56 percent cited IP-based access control systems.
- Growing Interest in Energy Efficiency. Businesses also expressed interested in controlling the efficiency/consumption of power with 48 percent respondents looking to deploy IP-based power monitoring systems, and 34 percent expecting to implement IP-based lighting systems.
- Outsourced IT on the Rise. More than half of the respondents (59 percent) are currently in a partnership with an IT solutions provider or are interested in doing so in the near future. Small business networks are becoming more complicated, and as networks continue to grow and incorporate big data from IoT, businesses will rely heavily on IT solutions providers to navigate the complexity and challenges around IoT.