IoT is revolutionizing homes, cities, vehicles and large enterprises, but it can also have a powerful impact on small businesses.
A recent Gartner survey found that 80 percent of companies that have implemented IoT technology feel that their return on investment has been better than expected.
And introducing IoT doesn’t mean overhauling your whole operation, investing a huge amount or fundamentally changing the way you do business.
IoT sensors embedded in physical objects can gather and transmit data about almost anything, whether it’s energy consumption or chemical composition of the air. They open a whole host of opportunities for small businesses.
There are plenty of pre-existing, off-the-shelf IoT software solutions, with proven track records that can help you save money, cut waste and provide a better service.
1. Monitor your stock
Stock taking: one of the most tedious, time-consuming but important tasks for any business (or at least any business that requires regularly restocking inventory).
But what if instead of having to do it manually, it could be done automatically, with all the data easily compiled, stored and managed at no extra effort on your part?
With digital shelving, you install an IoT sensor that understands the level of inventory by reading smart tags on products. This means always knowing exactly how much stock you have, where it is and how much has been sold at any given time.
That is the opportunity IoT sensors offer for stock monitoring. It can even make orders to restock your inventory when you’re running low, freeing up your time to focus on less easily automated demands.
And if installing digital shelves is too much of an investment, there are also simpler sensors you can use for asset tracking and monitoring of specific kinds of inventory.
2. Track your fleet
Fleet management used to track little more than speed, hard braking and acceleration.
Today, IoT sensors can monitor and provide detailed information on every aspect of fleet management: vehicle diagnostics, driving behavior analytics, real-time car tracking, roadside assistance, media connectivity and more.
Fleet managers will be able to identify and resolve issues—like vehicle wear and tear, and substandard driver behavior—before they become problems that damage your fleet’s efficiency.
In short, this means not only invaluable insight on how your fleet is operating, but also increased productivity and reduced costs.
3. Save energy in the office
Even with every employee working their hardest to reduce energy usage, there’s always room for human error: AC running over night, lights left on and applications not switched off. Saving energy is important, but no one wants to be nagging people about it every day.
IoT sensors can be employed to control energy-consuming systems like lighting, AC and heating. Energy devices can even be tied to your access control system, so when the last person signs out with an electronic pass, the whole site is using the minimum energy possible.
These devices can help you keep bills down (and save the environment) without needing to regularly check in on every person and every room.
Results vary depending on the building, your business, your starting point and the required level of energy consumption. But IoT sensors can help reduce energy usage by anything from 8 per cent in the first year to 20–30 per cent from the second year and onward.
4. Supercharge your security
Whatever your business, protecting your assets is always a top priority. And while traditional motion sensors or alarm systems may be effective for detecting intruders, their IoT equivalents offer the same service—but supercharged.
If they detect a threat, they can automatically alert you by SMS. Or email. Or with a desktop notification. Or it can trigger an alarm. Or it can make a spooky voice shout at whoever or whatever is there “Leave right now, or there’ll be trouble!” followed by a terrifying cackle (if that’s the sort of thing that you think will drive away potential threats).
The point is, the choice is yours: IoT security sensors allow you not only to protect your assets, but to do so in the way you want, and believe will be most effective.
Make no mistake: IoT is changing the way businesses work
And a lot of the things that look like innovations today will become standard practice. There are already 15 billion IoT connected devices in the world, and that number is only set to skyrocket.
The IoT opportunities are there for small businesses. It’s time to make the most of them.