Personal Small Business Enterprise

4 Reasons Why Canadian Businesses Should Consider M2M Technology

It was only a matter of time before digital devices started communicating with each other and now it’s happening on a large scale. Machine-to-machine (M2M) technology has already taken the enterprise world by storm, and the small and mid-sized business market appears to be next. According to Analysys Mason, small and medium-sized businesses will increase from 14.6 per cent of all M2M connections in 2013 to 24.6 per cent by 2016.

For Canadian small and medium-sized businesses, M2M is poised to provide many opportunities to leverage technology to better serve customers and increase operational efficiencies. Let’s look at four different ways that these businesses can use M2M technologies to their advantage:

1. Mobile payment
With constant connectivity, today’s consumers are more demanding and discerning than ever. M2M point-of-sale options give your business the ability to provide better customer service through flexible payment methods that overcome traditional physical restrictions and boundaries. Whether you’re looking to take advantage of new chips inside credit cards, or enabling customers to use their smartphone for mobile payments, M2M benefits everyone involved.

For example, if you own a small deli sandwich shop, this means you can handle more customers during the lunch hour rush because you’ll spend less time processing each transaction. Customers get a secure form of payment (e.g. credit or debit card), while businesses benefit from being able to offer customers flexible and convenient payment options.

2. Digital signage
Businesses of all sizes need to communicate with their customers to promote in-store sales, new products, specials, and promotions. Research indicates that up to 75 per cent of buying decisions by customers are made in-store. However, as little as five per cent of advertising expenditures are made in store.

With M2M technology, your business can move away from print-based displays and utilize digital signage to deliver up-to-date, real-time messages to customers. By using a content management and distribution system on a computer, you can quickly create digital signs that can be displayed on high-tech screens in-store.  Plus, research also shows that buyers are 5 to 10 times more likely to notice and recall dynamic media as opposed to static media. That makes digital signage truly compelling for businesses.

Businesses can also adjust messaging based on location, time of day (e.g. breakfast special at a small diner), audience (e.g. senior’s special) and key calendar events (e.g. Back-to-School, Christmas). With digital signage, businesses can inform, educate and even entertain customers while increasing their buying potential.

3. Near-field communication technology
To compete in this ever-changing landscape, small businesses need to innovate by transforming into real-time, information-driven operations. One such opportunity is utilizing near-field communication (NFC) technology within smartphones to strengthen customer relationships. With NFC, one machine “reads” another device to communicate and send information wirelessly. For example, a token could be exchanged to authenticate a transaction.

4. Asset/Fleet management
Many businesses have difficulty managing business assets and inventory such as tools, supplies, equipment and vehicles. Considering the downsides of theft, loss, breakdown and delay in delivery, the appeal of M2M assets management is clear. Such a system could avoid financial losses, delays in production and increased insurance premiums. M2M technology can provide asset tracking solutions giving you real-time visibility of assets to reduce theft, recover lost or stolen assets and increase operational efficiency. Through GPS-based software, businesses can monitor the security and productivity of assets and receive regular reports on their usage and instant notification to track lost or stolen assets.

Look for M2M solutions that offer a single, cloud-based management centre for real-time access to assets and fleet management. Not only should you be able to gather business intelligence, the management centre should also allow you to automate key processes and help you make informed decisions on how to best use your assets.

The bottom line
M2M provides the ability to digitally network objects and systems that aren’t computers, phones or tablets. To many, M2M has the potential to be as revolutionary as the Internet because it allows both wireless and wired systems the ability to communicate with each other. The worldwide M2M market is already generating $10 billion in revenue worldwide, and is set to grow rapidly in the years ahead.

If you own a small or medium-sized business, now’s the time to start thinking about how M2M solutions can help you. Tell us how you plan on using M2M technology to better serve your customers via the comments section below.

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