By Matthew Cordasco, MyCrowd QA

There are numerous ways to get an edge over your competitors, from offering better pricing to making a higher quality product. One way that’s increasingly interesting is by putting the IoT, or Internet of Things, to work to enhance your business processes or final product.

Over the last decade, the Internet of Things has gone from a technologist’s dream into a reality for tens of millions of people. If you use an Internet-controlled alarm, lighting system or heating system, you’re part of it. If not, the chances are very good that you soon will be.

A huge amount of content has been written about the Internet of Things, the vast majority of it from a consumer’s perspective. Journalists have extensively covered how the IoT can improve life at home, save time, reduce costs, make life more convenient and improve security.

There’s also another side to the Internet of Things — a side that can make your business more efficient, enhance your product and improve your value proposition.

That’s the side we’d like to explore — the side that isn’t reported on as much, but could have the biggest benefits of all. From products to internal processes, the Internet of Things can give your business three significant advantages over its competitors.

A smarter, more efficient way to do business

In November 2013, Tesla carried out its first over-the-air (OTA) software update, sending its car owners updated ride height adjustment software. The software wasn’t delivered in a package or updated at a dealership, but pushed electronically to the car’s internal computer.

A few months later, Tesla did it again, sending an update that prevented charging systems from becoming overheated. The software update, which was delivered automatically, fixed a bug that could have potentially grown into a major safety risk for owners of Tesla vehicles.

Tesla’s use of the Internet of Things has changed the way vehicle manufacturers look at product updates. It’s also massively changed the costs of modifying a vehicle after it’s sold to improve its safety or design.

What was once solved with a multi-million dollar (or for top-selling vehicles, a multi-billion dollar) recall is now a simple process. By keeping its cars connected, Tesla is only ever a patch away from fixing safety issues, enhancing driver experience and improving their vehicles.

The result is a win-win for owners and Tesla. Owners benefit from automatic updates without the inconvenience of visiting a dealership, while Tesla has reduced its risk of facing a costly product recall through a smart, amazingly simple software update system.

If your business sells a physical product that’s constantly connected, it may be able to use the IoT in a similar way to Tesla. From updates to improvements, the IoT is a major asset for auto and technology companies seeking to become safer, smarter and more efficient.

Smarter, more detailed usage and product status reporting

Tesla isn’t the only automotive company that’s put the Internet of Things to work to improve its products. Rolls Royce, a company most people would view as far more traditional, is also using the IoT to improve its products and become a more profitable business.

Famous for its airline engines, Rolls Royce faced a problem: it was one of the most respected aircraft suppliers in the world, but it wasn’t profitable. To improve its business, Rolls Royce has turned to the IoT and became a leader in big data.

Modern Rolls Royce aircraft engines include a feature called “Engine Condition Monitoring” — a real-time monitoring system that sends performance information from planes in flight to a Rolls Royce research and development center for analysis.

By reviewing data for thousands of flights, Rolls Royce can discover ways to make its engines safer and more efficient. This analysis has real results; when used on an Airbus A330, the Rolls Royce Trent 7000 is 14% more fuel efficient than its nearest rival.

This ability to dig into operating data and improve efficiency has given Rolls Royce a stronger value proposition than its competitors, most of whom market their engines as commodities. In part due to its usage of IoT technology, Rolls Royce is now the number two ranked company in the aircraft engine industry.

Do you sell a product that can be improved through usage data? From thermostats to vehicles, many products benefit from being more efficient than their competitors. The IoT makes big data analysis far more manageable, letting you discover inefficiencies and opportunities to improve.

Better, more appealing products for end users

The Internet of Things has obvious benefits for businesses. It has even more obvious benefits for customers. From improving usability to reducing costs and increasing convenience, the IoT can improve almost any electronic product.

Thermostats, once controlled using confusing, user-unfriendly internal times, are easier than ever to program. Many homes have automated lighting that’s more convenient and much less wasteful than anything before it.

Embracing the Internet of Things doesn’t just make your business more efficient; it also helps you create an improved product that delivers a better experience to end users.

QA Testing the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is massive in scale, making it a serious challenge to test IoT products and applications. The traditional QA testing approach just doesn’t work, and no integration is comprehensive enough to work for an IoT product.

One way to test for the IoT is through the crowd. Platforms like MyCrowd QA, which have massive audiences of thousands of testers and devices, let you access the huge device diversity that’s required to accurately do QA testing for the Internet of Things.

Can the Internet of Things help your business?

The Internet of Things has grown dramatically over the last decade, rapidly moving into domains that few expected it to. Eventually, it will reach yours. Is your business positioned to benefit from the Internet of Things, or are you unprepared for its arrival?

Matthew Cordasco is CEO of MyCrowd QA, a self-service QA testing platform for companies to test their mobile apps and software.