As technology advances, more devices boast Internet connectivity. This expanding Internet of Things has the potential to alter the way we communicate, learn, go to the doctor, order food, and so on – almost every aspect of life. Designers and engineers strive to invent gadgets that will make a task easier and many items on the Internet of Things do just that.

As Walt Mossberg of Recode succinctly put it, "The broad idea behind these buzzwords is that a whole constellation of inanimate objects is being designed with built-in wireless connectivity, so that they can be monitored, controlled and linked over the Internet via a mobile app."

But it's more than trivial convenience – some devices will help patients reach specialized care or provide instant health metrics to their doctors. Others might allow a homeowner or business owner to monitor his or her building while on vacation or out of town. The benefits can be immense.

Retail to gain from the IoT
For small retail businesses, the shift toward Internet connectivity can also make a big impact. The influence may come in a number of ways. Some businesses will be able to grow their online presence – even to the point of eliminating their in-store transactions altogether, suggested Forbes. Others might leverage the platform to gain insights into their performance and identify larger trends to optimize business. Still others could incorporate Internet capability into the very transactions – using systems like Apple Pay to help customers make purchases more easily.

Most likely, it will be the combination of elements like these that will give business owners the most benefit. The nature of the IoT is such that the more devices that are connected, the more effective it becomes. The small business that will gain the most from the IoT is the one that will incorporate at every level of operations, from the customer interaction to employee efficiency to big data.

Some small retail shops are seeking advice from Watson – a cognitive analytical system designed to quickly understand data and then answer questions posed in plain English, Forbes reported. Watson won "Jeopardy!" against some of the best and brightest and now businesses are using it to help them become more efficient and optimized.

Office technology industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in office technology equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.