Internet of Things (IoT), which is often interchangeably used with 'Industry 4.0', has been the buzzword of 21st century.
IoT promises paradigm shifts in consumer product markets and business applications.
Consumer IoT is everywhere and already a part your daily life. Wearables, smart sensors and monitoring devices are just a few examples of the IoT that you can think about. World-class corporations already use IoT to improve processes, reduce costs and increase productivity.
There's a huge market between these two extremes of the spectrum that is opening up to IoT's potential, and that's small businesses.
Gartner's recent study found that 80 percent of companies using IoT technology believe they are getting more ROI.
This guide will tell you everything you need about IoT and its relevance for small businesses.
IoT for Small Businesses - An Introduction
Any device that can connect to the Internet is an integral part of the IoT ecosystem. IoT is another dimension of information generation and recording. It's like non-living 'things' being capable of talking to you.
This allows for hyper-customization and precise process control which empowers businesses. IoT technology can be used by small business owners to improve the management of almost all aspects of their business.
Is IoT relevant for small businesses?
IoT devices can solve business problems and remove process limitations effectively. Businesses can optimize their processes, increase productivity, lower costs and do much more.
These are just a few of the 5 most common business requirements that IoT fulfills.
1. Access Control
Smart locks that are Internet-enabled can be used by businesses in both the manufacturing and retail industries. These smart locks are a perfect example of IoT solving real business issues, easily.
Businesses can control physical spaces with smart locks without having to use traditional restrictions. Smart locks make it easy to change passwords remotely, log all accesses and revoke access.
2. Security and Monitoring
Smart cams are another great example of IoT devices supporting small businesses. These Internet-enabled video cameras can capture high definition footage and upload it directly to the cloud. Businesses don't need to spend $1,000-$4,000 per camera. For any business that requires extended footage recording, the cost savings are too great to ignore. Recommended Products on Amazon: Kasa Smart Cameras Eufy Smart Cameras
3. Dynamic Inventory Management
Smart RFID tags can be of great value to businesses that deal in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). These tiny devices show how IoT can bring about incredible productivity gains for businesses.
These RFID tags are affordable and can be attached directly to products. These RFID tags can be attached to products and used to record sales, returns, quality audits, quarantine, and other events. This allows for store operations to be run more efficiently than ever before. Recommended Products on Amazon: Adhesive RFID Tags RFID Tag Reader
4. Equipment Maintenance
Many small businesses find downtime a major problem. Businesses need to spend several hours recovering from equipment failures. This costs them an average of $10,000 an hour.
Imagine being able to repair and maintain your equipment before it is even down! It sounds like magic! This is the power of IoT sensors.
IoT sensors are able to warn small businesses about a possible breakdown and schedule a technician in advance. This will help reduce downtime. It is much easier to handle the whole mess after a break-down has already occurred than it is to try and manage everything afterwards.
5. Energy Management
To reduce their costs, homeowners can use Internet of Things technology. Similar principles apply to businesses.
Small businesses have limited financial resources. It is possible to save significant amounts of money by reducing energy consumption and controlling temperature and light. These IoT devices can control the time that machines, equipment, or appliances are turned on and off. This optimizes usage, extends the equipment's life, and lowers operating costs. Recommended Products on Amazon: Amazon Smart Thermostat Google Nest Smart Thermostat Phillips Hue Smart Lights
IoT in Action for Small Businesses
Giants like Target, Amazon, and Tesla have already started using IoT to improve their business. These success stories are not popular with small businesses for some reason.
This is because the numbers are too large for small businesses to relate to. Is that to say IoT isn't available for small businesses? Not at all!
The 21st Century is all about equality. IoT service providers and manufacturers of IoT devices offer tailored solutions for businesses of all sizes.
The Google Nest Thermostat is an industrial version of the Nest Thermostat. This was created after the overwhelming success of the Nest Thermostat, which targets homeowners. The new industrial variant focuses on small businesses. This device can reduce your heating and cooling energy consumption by up to 12%, and in some cases as much as 15%, which could save you thousands of dollars each year.
These are just a few of the many success stories that IoT has given businesses. They can save money and manage their processes more effectively.
1. Millions of dollars saved on energy costs
EcoEnergy Insights was a top IoT service provider and made headlines in 2018. Why? It created a custom IoT-based energy management solution to American West Restaurant Group (AWRG).
The solution was so successful that AWRG saw a nearly 18% decrease in energy consumption across its Pizza Hut restaurants within a matter of months. This shows how IoT can bring the double benefits of a low carbon footprint and significant dollar-savings to energy intensive businesses.
2. Better Waste Collection
Garden City Sanitation Inc. provides garbage collection services in California.
What makes it different than other similar services? It uses the smart waste collection system WasteOS. This cloud-based platform for waste management reduces waste collection costs by up to 40%.
This solution analyzes real-time data using software and sensors. These data are used to plan the best routes for waste collection trucks.
Data from serviced dumpsters can also be used to optimize routing and scheduling. This allows the business to keep track of roll-off inventory as well as when each container was empty.
WasteOS even provides better customer service than the average logistics company.
Why? Because haulers know when clients require services well before they do. This makes routing more efficient.
IoT in Small Businesses: More Applications
Businesses will benefit from the decreasing cost of IoT device ownership. This practice will be a norm in the industry as more companies embrace smart devices for their routine business activities.
These are just a few of the many IoT applications that empower small businesses across all industries.
1. Management of perishable goods
Future prospects for the hospitality and food industry are bright. IoT provides insights that can improve food safety. IoT allows businesses to measure the temperature and humidity of cold storage units. This technology optimizes energy management in food storage. Cafes and restaurants can use alerts and heat maps to plan storage and usage.
2. Workforce Management
Targeted messages can be sent by companies to smartphones of their audience. The technology can also be used to manage the workforce as it is cheaper. Beacons could replace time sheets.
Employers can also be identified by beacons to ensure that they are wearing the correct safety gear. This is a major benefit for the healthcare industry. The beacons can be used to track workers on the floor and make sure they use proper protocols when handling equipment. This helps businesses comply with safety regulations. Recommended Products on Amazon: RFID Access Control System Smart Time Logger for Offices
3. Data goldmine
Small businesses often lack the resources to set up channels that capture data from consumers. The gap can be bridged by consumer IoT products.
The direct connection to customer IoT devices allows for access to crucial data about how end users interact with products. This allows device manufacturers to make truly innovative design improvements.
What should small businesses consider before jumping on the IoT bandwagon?
Small businesses can benefit greatly from IoT if they identify the processes that are most in need of process control.
The key to success is to find processes that can be improved.
Product design is key to your company's success. IoT can be used to collect data about the product being used by end consumers.
Cost control is the key to success IoT sensors can be used to control and optimize.
You can reduce manual labor costs by using IoT. You can automate your processes with the IoT.
Security measures should be a priority for business owners. Criminals can target these networks because they contain valuable and sensitive data. It is therefore important to protect all IoT devices and keep the network safe from cybercriminals.
IoT: A Threat to the Industrial Workforce?
IoT used to be viewed as a threat to industrial workers, just like artificial intelligence. However, over the last decade, IoT has proven to be an enabler and not a replacement to workforces.
IoT allows routine tasks to be automated. This allows employees to spend their time on more valuable activities. The claims that IoT would replace people are exaggerated. They are actually empowered by the technology to do better.
Global IoT spending is expected to reach $1.29 trillion by 2020. The burgeoning interest in IoT devices by small business owners is a major contributor.
Small businesses, regardless of industry, can reap the benefits from IoT in many different ways. To maximize your business's benefits, you must identify the best use cases for IoT.
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