“Internet of Things” is a term that encompasses an incredibly broad realm of possibilities. Because connected technology can be applied in a multitude of ways across countless industries, this growing — yet nascent — concept is generating a lot of interest and curiosity.

However, with this intrigue comes misconceptions and generalizations that cloud reality. Similar to an old-fashioned game of telephone, one isolated negative incident involving connected technology often ends up getting attributed to the IoT as a whole. And when that happens, businesses jump to conclusions and elect to avoid this potentially beneficial opportunity.

As one of my favorite sayings goes, “We do not fear the unknown. We fear what we think we know about the unknown.”

It’s time to clear up some misconceptions about the IoT that are preventing too many businesses from reaping its rewards. But before we do that, let’s better understand connected technology’s recent history and what its future holds.

Growing Pains

Similar to virtually every technological advancement, the IoT has experienced its fair share of growing pains over the years.

Most notably, early adopters of connected technology endured the costly sunset of 2G. Many business leaders who thought they were making long-term investments in IoT ended up scrapping their efforts altogether because they felt the technology failed them. And now, with 3G on its way out the door, people remain rightfully hesitant to get on board.

However, it’s important to understand that the IoT isn’t some bubble of hype that will one day burst; it’s constantly evolving, and network longevity and device scalability will soon be issues of the past. In fact, Ericcson predicts that IoT-connected devices will outnumber mobile phones by 2018.

Modern companies should view IoT as a necessary development that will inevitably change the industrial world for the better. It’s not just a passing fad.

The Reality of IoT

As it stands today, 57 percent of small businesses expect the IoT to significantly affect their bottom lines. Despite this, a shocking 71 percent fear they’re not yet ready to embrace it. Soon enough, however, there won’t be any other choice — before we know it, the IoT will play a pivotal role in every industry in every country.

Think about how the internet slowly disrupted industries over the past 20 years. Remember Borders bookstores? Instead of building its own web presence, the once-prolific company outsourced its e-commerce efforts to a small business called Amazon. Today, only one of these two entities is still around to tell the tale.

The IoT is the natural next step in the evolution of the internet, but it continues to be plagued by these three big misconceptions:

1. It’s new and unproven. Many company leaders believe IoT hasn’t been around long enough and is, therefore, a risky investment. They’d feel safer working with something that has a proven track record of success.

While “Internet of Things” as a term may be relatively new, the underlying technology and business model has been around for more than a decade, generating tremendous value for all kinds of businesses from all over the world. Connected devices have proven time and time again to be a great asset in aiding small business operations. In fact, a study by Boston Consulting Group found that small businesses that utilize IoT increase their revenue 15 percent faster than those that don’t.

2. Only big, rich companies can play. Another study found that nearly half of all small businesses believe IoT is too costly. These companies believe only large corporations with big budgets are capable of implementing and maintaining a connected infrastructure. While this myth can easily become reality if you choose the wrong partners, it’s worth noting that an IoT deployment doesn’t necessarily need to involve thousands upon thousands of devices and sensors; it can be as large or as small as you’d like it to be.

Further, smaller companies are actually better equipped to leverage IoT-driven opportunities because of their ability to move quickly and pivot when logical. The process of building and deploying an IoT solution when partnered with the right providers is really quite simple, and because small businesses are more flexible than larger ones, accomplishing this is far from arduous.

3. There are too many security risks. Security is a hot topic that seems to be negatively attributed to the IoT in different ways every day. According to one study, nearly 90 percent of IT professionals see connected devices as risky from a security and privacy standpoint, as they open up more chances for attacks on a company.

Simply put, security risks are an issue anytime something is connected to the internet, and these threats are no more omnipresent in companies with IoT technology than those without it. As with any IT endeavor, IoT security should be a top priority for businesses, and it’s easy to incorporate it into your existing security protocols.

Don’t let these misconceptions distract you from reality. The IoT is a viable, inevitable development that is poised to take over the entire industrial world. Those who prepare for it today will be the first ones to disrupt their industries tomorrow — while those who avoid it put themselves on the path to becoming the next Borders.