The vast majority of small businesses in the United States--82 percent--believe the Internet of things (IoT) will bring fresh opportunities to their businesses, according to a study released by security software specialist AVG Technologies.
However, the study, which surveyed more than 2,000 small businesses in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, also indicated there is much more to do to help them understand what IoT actually means.
For example, just 58 percent understood IoT to mean a network of connected devices that are able to communicate with one another.
The top reasons respondents associated with the IoT that are preventing small businesses from buying and implementing smart devices were security (51 percent), cost (48 percent) and fears about government monitoring (27 percent).
"The Internet of things is one of those nebulous bits of jargon invented by the IT industry, and many people I meet are confused as to what it actually means," Mike Foreman, AVG’s general manager of SMB, said in a statement. "With this study we wanted to show how the IoT can bring opportunity to small businesses."
More than half (54 percent) of respondents think the IoT will result in their organization being more open to security breaches or hacking, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those surveyed agreed that security software aimed at IoT would put their mind at ease.
Complexity and cost also weigh on the minds of small business owners, as 48 percent thought data security would become more complex, and 34 percent felt backups would become more complex. Forty-four percent said additional cost is the reason they haven’t yet invested in IoT.
Small businesses said they felt the main benefits of IoT would come from increased access (65 percent of respondents) and faster access (66 percent) to more data along with productivity gains (69 percent).
The majority (56 percent) said it will help customer satisfaction, and 51 percent expected it to help them be more profitable. The vast majority (80 percent) of respondents reported IoT as being relevant to their business to some extent.
"Another aim of the report was to highlight key areas of difference between countries," Foreman said. "For example, it was significant that U.S. respondents were the only ones to put government monitoring ahead of lack of demand when it came to factors holding back IoT adoption."
Respondents were of the opinion that the top 5 devices that could present a security threat were: IP phones (66 percent), closed-circuit television (42 percent), factory equipment (34 percent), sensors (31 percent) and actuators (28 percent).