In the early days, IOT a network of connected devices & sensors was a new concept for the people and only being understood by academic & business researchers in terms of its potential.
Fast forward three years, and the world not only has accepted IoT; it’s fully embracing the use of in-home IoT devices such as digital assistants Alexa and Google Home, Wi-Fi doorbells and thermostats, and appliances. Today everyone is willingly connecting their daily life to the manufacturer apps.
What is the Internet of Things?
IoT is one of the most popular technologies of the 21st century, often used interchangeably with ‘Industry 4.0’. Through IoT, businesses get connected to the innovative devices and provides you money-saving process as well as valuable information. Not only can the big giants of the industry but also the SMEs use plenty of devices to run their business more efficiently & cost-effectively through IoT.
Nowadays consumer IoT is all around you, & already a part of your daily life as we have talked above such as thinks wearable, smart sensors, monitoring devices, & more. Many big tech-giants are leveraging the power of IoT to optimized processes, control costs, & improve productivity.
Between these two ends of the spectrum, there’s a massive market that’s warming up to the IoT’s potential – that’s small businesses. As per the Garter, the study shows more than 70% of companies implementing IoT technology feel that they are getting more ROI than expected.
IoT for Small Businesses – An Introduction
Generally, any device that can be connected to the internet, is a part of the IoT ecosystem. In short, IoT is the dimension of information generation, recording, & analysis. It’s the equivalent of non-living things being able to talk to you!
This permits hyper-customization and minute process control, which then empowers businesses. SME’s can use IoT to manage every aspect of a better business.
How is IoT Relevant for Small Businesses?
Through IoT devices, you can also solve traditional business issues & eliminate process constraints effectively. It also let the business to optimize everything, enjoy more productivity, and reduce costs, so on.
We’ve listed the top IoT technologies for small business in 2020.
Access and security
SME’s get increased convenience & the ability to manage building access from any device and security with the help of smart locks. Many times employees lose keys, which causes an inconvenience as well as a major security risk. But with smart locks, you and/or employees can control locks from phones or other devices.
Smart devices such as unique access codes allow SMEs to manage & track who enters a building and this is most effective when used in conjunction with smart cameras & alarm sensors.
Security cameras have been in operation for decades and are becoming more powerful and less expensive all the time, especially when used in tandem with smart locks. Today, connected cameras allow business owners to remotely monitor offices, warehouses, entrances, and other areas.
In the cloud, footages can be saved often limitlessly as compare to the expensive limited storage devices. Connected cameras use Wi-Fi so don’t need cables, allowing them to be placed anywhere as long as they have power. Also, their reliance on Wi-Fi rather than cables does however mean they required a good wireless internet connection. Their ease of installation is part of what has implemented the technology so affordable.
Operations, inventory and logistics
Mobile card readers
Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) devices have revolutionized retail. Increased card payments have reduced the need for cash, increasing convenience, helping to reduce accounting errors, and, with less cash on-premises, reducing the risk of theft.
While experts say that cards are more secure than cash, mPOS devices and systems can still be vulnerable to hacking and fraud. The advice to businesses is: keep your systems up to date, ensure the latest protections are in place (firewalls, two-factor authentication, and endpoint protection) and practice good password management.
Inventory and stock control
Many small businesses are already using barcodes, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, and IoT devices for inventory control. The IoT can be combined with RFID to create ‘smart stores’ that are equipped with sensors and cameras to allow remote and centralized inventory management, including automated restocking. Shortly, small businesses will begin to adopt IoT robotic carts to make delivery fully automated and controlled by a central app or system.
Also, a big industry giant Amazon has revealed that its unmanned, automated warehouses use barcodes, software, and connected machines to manage deliveries without the need for people.
IoT provides you end-to-end visibility of deliveries, especially in long-distance shipping. Where you can track the devices feed into transportation management & supply chain platforms to give you critical information’s at the package & pallet level. With increased visibility of what happens at the various stages of a journey, businesses can work with internal and external partners to create efficiencies and improvements – giving them a competitive advantage.
Supply-chain data monitoring
Similar to the above, IoT offers deeper insights into the supply chain with data about the condition of stock – especially perishables – allowing businesses to verify the quality of deliveries.
This data can be used to provide businesses with information about specific shipments, do data-led risk assessments, or improve specific aspects of processes. Connected devices within shipments can also be used to gather data such as emissions to keep them in line with regulations and allow logistics firms to proactively manage cargo as needed. Devices can also monitor security, reducing crime, loss, and damage.
Temperature and climate monitoring
Temperature and climate monitoring technology is already benefiting farmers and growers. Weather can make or break businesses. Live data and predictive modeling can help farmers better manage their crops and protect them against things like excess precipitation or high temperatures. IoT solutions also help businesses cut costs, yield higher crops, & prevent over as per their needs.
They are also helping farmers make more informed decisions about pesticides and disease prevention. Fields and farms can now be equipped with connected devices that track rainfall, wind, air pressure, and humidity, all of which can be used by software to provide recommendations.
IoT also monitors the storage facilities to help businesses with temperature control & ensure perishable are monitored, flag issues when required, & maintain compliance.
Voice assistants have improved as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP) software develop. Basic voice assistants can take notes, set reminders, and deliver alerts. In more advanced products or services, voice recognition software works with apps to do certain tasks. This list of functions is continuously growing and ranges from delivering audio search results to booking flights and controlling remote security.
Apart from the productivity benefits for individuals, businesses are using voice assistants to offer better customer service and increase revenue by reducing the costs associated with a sale. Many businesses are integrating or optimizing their products and services for assistants such as Siri and Alexa to improve products and services or reach new audiences. Chatbots have been much lauded and continue to deliver efficiencies as well as valuable data to businesses. Generally, smart lights, connected lights, & lighting systems have a range of benefits for businesses such as reducing costs to increased security.
Modern smart lighting products can help businesses monitor various premises and their environment, increase staff safety (including on-site traffic safety for depots and parking lots), and even deliver location-based services such as smart parking. Smart lights can be controlled from mobile phones or other devices to help achieve sustainability goals and give a measurable return on investment.
Smart thermostats and HVAC
Thermostats are almost a primitive precedent to smart devices – managing heating based on a preset temperature – but IoT will expand businesses’ ability to manage environments across large premises remotely. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) can all be monitored and controlled centrally and remotely for added convenience and to maximize energy efficiency. As the technology develops, some devices can even implement machine learning to increase efficiency and cost savings even further.
It’s estimated that global spending on IoT will hit $1.29 trillion by 2020. However, the deepening interest of SMEs in embracing IoT devices is going to be a contributor. Above are the benefits of IoT in many ways for small businesses, and the key to success is to identify the right use cases for IoT to maximize business benefits.