Many small business and startup owners mistakenly believe that taking advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) is prohibitively expensive. The truth is that doing so is easily within the grasp of every business, regardless of size. The trick is to focus on cost-effective IoT-enabled solutions.
One of the most important qualities of any great business leader is the ability to spot and exploit opportunities to grow or improve their company. These opportunities typically do not just present themselves. Occasionally, innovative new technologies come along that require a lot of time to understand. It can also be difficult for many business owners to understand its proper use. IoT is one area where it’s actually quite easy to wade in regardless of business size or budget.
Below is a brief IoT explainer along with two potentially advantageous applications to consider.
What exactly is the Internet of Things?
In its simplest terms, the IoT is a collective term for devices that connect to the cloud when providing their basic functionality. These devices use the cloud to store data, receive updates, and run reports. Amazon’s Alexa is perhaps the most widely-known example. However, there are now millions of devices like this worldwide. They are all part of a global network of cloud-backed IoT products.
This means that an increasing number of core business functions can be automated and connected to a large online server. Previously localized items such as fire extinguishers, light bulbs, music players, or even driverless vehicles can contain “smart” capabilities.
There are many benefits to moving legacy systems over to the IoT. Devices attached to an online server are continually updated without the need for human intervention. Processes and performance improve automatically over time. IoT devices also feed data back to the server that benefits the whole network.
To find out more about the Internet of Things, read this.
1. You can use the Internet of Things to help you with security.
If your business has a lot of valuable equipment stored on site and you’re worried about the chances of a burglary, then the natural solution is to install CCTV cameras. However, CCTV systems only go so far. You still need to pay a guard to monitor multiple camera feeds and make sure that nothing suspicious takes place.
Many CCTV systems cost a great deal of money, as does adding another full-time staff position. Unless your worksite is relatively small, it’s unlikely the guard will be able to do anything other than call the authorities.
Leaning into IoT tech, you could choose to install smart cameras. These devices are programmed to alert the authorities and appropriate staff members when problems arise. Similarly, you could choose to invest in AI-backed cybersecurity software. These packages serve a similar purpose. They can monitor your online network and notify your IT security people whenever something suspicious happens.
2. You can easily automate time-consuming, legacy business processes.
The number of available IoT-enabled solutions increases on a daily basis. There are already too many to list individually. Instead, it’s best to think about its overall potential to automate processes. Take an inventory of your time-consuming processes and consider how the IoT might benefit your business.
For example, if you run a logistics company, it might be worth investing in driverless car and truck technology. These devices are becoming more sophisticated and more efficient with every new product release.
Alternatively, if you own or manage a company that is conscious of its environmental footprint, you could install smart light bulbs and heater controls to automate your office environment. This will automate turning on lights only when necessary and managing heating and cooling within parameters that are the most energy-efficient.
Whatever the use case, it’s definitely worth considering how the Internet of Things could improve your business. IoT solutions can help any business or startup owner stay competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.