In the last decade, the internet of things has grown both in popularity and applicability. Today, there are more than 15.4 billion devices connected. According to Intel, this figure could jump up to 200 billion devices that are connected by the year 2020.
Such an increase is set to affect the business world in numerous ways– especially for small businesses. It is set to bring new opportunities that EVERY business in the food chain can take advantage of.
Large IoT manufacturers, of course, will gain more market share from distributing the devices. Massive corporations will be using IoT for inventory tracking and other large-scale tasks.
But here's the truth many small business owners don't understand: you don't have to be a major corporation to take advantage of the IoT! Small businesses are being presented with opportunities to expand and become more efficient. IoT can be used in any size startup to generate revenue and to make tasks more efficient.
Here are some of the ways that IoT can help small businesses:
1. Automate more tasks
IoT can help enterprises to automate more tasks. Automated business functions lower the costs of production. This ultimately helps to keep the price of products low and affordable. That is true at any scale! A small business usually has a small budget. To keep a firm's doors open, the business owner should aim to run at minimum costs. With a little scheduling software and Google Assistant, many tasks that historically have required a secretary can be streamlined and automated. Check out IFTTT.com for some easy examples of automation through virtual assistants. Also, consider using apps such as PomoDoneApp which is a great resource for tasks!
IoT also helps small firms to keep a low budget by using strategically placed sensors. These sensors count products and keep a digital record that would otherwise need to be manually observed and recorded. Don't incur unnecessary costs hiring people to perform tasks like these. Many tasks can be automated, including door keeping, accounting, and even some HR functions.
2. Improve security
Security is an issue for businesses of any scale. Small businesses can sort out security issues early through IoT devices. Guards are often too expensive for a business of small and moderate size. A system of cameras and sensors, however, can be just as effective as and replace the cost of employing security personnel. Besides it, IoT devices should buy SSL certificates and enable it for data transfer to make communication encrypted between two ends. Without SSL, an attacker easily intercept ongoing information.
Small firms can also improve their security systems using smart locks. Smart locks rely on sensors and software to identify, grant, or deny access and keep the records of all entries and exits.
IoT devices are largely only as powerful as your creativity. Take Sherlock Bike, for example. The company produces a small GPS tracker so their customers can recover lost or stolen bicycles. Creativity is often key for unlocking the power of connected devices.
3. Improve efficiency
Small businesses can leverage the power of IoT to improve efficiency. By deploying a wide array of sensors such as heat sensors, small organizations can determine the most used areas at each time and the least used ones.
The business can then use the information gathered by these devices to know which areas have the most traffic at what time. The firm can then use such information to reorganize rooms and resources according to demand. The data can also be used to relocate resources when the data shows they are not utilized.
IoT devices should be viewed as an extension of the other digital small business tools already in your arsenal. Look at what process you already have and explore options for maximizing productivity through connected devices.
4. Track processes more accurately
IoT can be used as a business tool to improve accuracy. Small retailers, for instance, can use smart chips to know the precise location of things in the production chain. This information helps administrators to plan and predict when the products are ready and at what stage of production they have reached.
IoT can also help firms to track their shipments. Smart chips can be put into consignments that are on transit to tell where they are and at what stage are they in.
Some have expressed security concerns with digital tracking of all their business processes. There are many companies like IOTEC or The Things Industries that can help you keep your IoT network secure.
5. Improve customer experience
IoT can be used to research and improve the customer's experience. One of the most critical resources in a new business is its customers. The customers that come to a business can help build or break it.
If the customers enjoy their experience at the firm, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends and family. If the experience was terrible, however, they are likely to discourage their friends and family from visiting the premises. Business owners can use IoT devices and cameras to monitor the level of customer services and experience. They can also use the data gathered to improve their practices.
Getting Educated on IoT
Often the largest IoT hurdle for small businesses is knowing where to start. If you fall into this category, there are many quality education options. Look through online blogs, courses, or even consider attending the Startupbootcamp IoT if you are looking for in-depth education on implementation. This knowledge can only benefit you and is such a key part of developing a great business. Find something that will educate you about it whether they’re from the ideas stated above, or even just talking to someone that has already implemented it into their business.
Don’t let a lack of knowledge prevent you from optimizing your business.
IoT is not an exclusive world anymore. By applying the principles used by large companies, your small business can improve its service. Don't lock yourself out of such a huge advantage because you think you aren’t “big enough”. There are so many benefits behind it and this is something that can help your business thrive at its fullest. Get educated on IoT and get started today! It’ll be of great worth!
About the author:
Kevin Gardner graduated with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA from UCLA. He works as a business consultant for InnovateBTS where he helps companies integrate technology to improve performance. He shares his knowledge and expertise not only with his clients but with his fellow bloggers and readers. .
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