There’s a lot of talk today about the Internet of Things (IoT) and its ever-increasing benefits in the world of business — providing new insights, boosting efficiency, and allowing companies to make more informed decisions. But what exactly is IoT? How does it work? And is it really important for a small business like yours?
What is IoT?
Exactly what it says on the tin, IoT is everything connected to the internet. In the past, we only connected computers and smartphones to the internet. But today, we can do the same with an extraordinary number of devices and objects so that we can interact with them from afar as well as gather useful data from them.
You most likely own an IoT device and not even realize it. From smart washers that detect the weight and fabric type of the clothes you load in it to wearable fitness devices that track the number of steps you take in a day, everyday objects can be IoT devices.
How does IoT work?
IoT devices have mini processors that react to data collected by built-in sensors via machine learning (ML). This is what makes IoT devices smart. ML is a type of artificial intelligence that gives computers the capability to learn the way humans do — by gathering data from their surroundings. This data helps a device learn a user’s preferences and allows it to adjust its actions or processes accordingly.
This doesn’t mean your smart speaker will engage you in a lengthy discussion of the latest news. Rather, your IoT-enabled alarm clock can adjust your wake-up alarm if it knows the weather’s going to be awful or if your train to work is going to be delayed. This makes sure you get to the office on time.
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Is IoT important for small businesses?
IoT takes advantage of the ubiquity of smart devices and the internet to transmit data in real time. Incorporating IoT in your small business can enable it to:
1. Boost productivity
IoT offers a variety of ways to collect better data, which allows business owners to make more informed decisions. For instance, a restaurant owner can use IoT devices to collect information about peak times in their establishment and help them tweak employee scheduling to maximize productivity. Or a business leader can use data collected from employees to pinpoint their most productive hours, and accordingly delegate important tasks or schedule meetings during these times.
Another great feature of IoT is its ability to share information in real time. This is especially useful in tracking inventory and supply as well as immediately identifying production bottlenecks, therefore minimizing hiccups and delays.
2. Reduce operational expenses
IoT can be used to detect potential issues before they impact processes, allowing businesses to save on maintenance costs and avoid downtime. For instance, you can use smart sensors to pinpoint exactly which devices or machines need recalibration and prevent them from breaking down and disrupting operations. Not only that, but sensors can also help turn your workplace into a smart office that automatically optimizes lighting and temperature to conserve resources.
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3. Generate new business and revenue
While the most obvious benefits of IoT revolve around process monitoring, efficiency, and productivity, IoT also provides businesses with significant insights into their operations and how their customers use their products or services. When a company understands how its customers use its products and services, it can find better ways to fulfill their needs and improve customer experience. What’s more, this understanding can enable a company to explore other ways to attract new customers and generate more revenue.
These are just a few of the numerous benefits that IoT can bring to your small business. When combined with other emerging technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality, you can unlock new competitive advantages, produce higher-quality products and services, and provide enhanced customer experiences.
Let our experts at Prosum help you leverage technology to propel your business to success. You can start by downloading our no-obligation eBook to see the specific strategies and technologies we can deploy to maximize your business’s productivity.