Technology helps businesses run more efficiently and automates repetitive tasks. The Internet of Things (IoT) benefits for businesses are numerous, and continue to grow as new apps and devices hit the market. You’ve likely noticed features such as ordering fast food via your mobile device or companies pinging you when it’s time to reorder. Those little personalized details are thanks to IoT.
Statista predicts connected IoT devices will hit 30.9 billion units by 2025. The pandemic accelerated the number of people shopping online and utilizing various technologies to limit contact. Once people saw how convenient utilizing various apps was, they began to use them more. The use of IoT continues on an upward trajectory for the foreseeable future.
IoT benefits for business are numerous, but which ones work best depends on your industry and the maturity of your business. We’ll look at some of the different options and how best to utilize different features to your advantage.
How Can IoT Help Small Businesses?
IoT benefits for business aren’t just limited to mega corporations. There are many ways to utilize new technology to expand your small business, no matter your size. There are programs you can use from day one to improve processes and excel in customer service.
Here are the main benefits of IoT for smaller companies.
1. Track Merchandise
If you run an e-commerce store or carry any type of inventory, loss of assets can cost your company a lot of money. Utilizing IoT technology, you can add a tracking device to palettes and find out where they are any time they go missing or are delayed.
If you run a bigger operation, it’s easy to misplace a palette behind others, for example. You’d simply pull up the tile with the RFID tag and figure out the exact location so you could find the merchandise you most need just when you need it.
2. Minimize Downtime
IoT benefits for businesses also encompass ideas such as minimizing downtime due to equipment failure. For manufacturers and construction professionals, IoT is a game-changer. Instead of waiting for equipment to break and having to stop everything to repair or replace, devices send reports about everything from temperature to how much the machine shakes.
Doing maintenance before something goes wrong saves time and expensive repair bills. Workers won’t be paid to stand around while you attempt to get the machine running again. Of course, no one can predict every possible malfunction, but IoT can reduce issues significantly.
3. Improve Customer Experience
IoT benefits for business include figuring out what customers want and how to give it to them. Customer experience (CX) is one of the things that can help your company stand out from the competition. You can tap into consumer behavior by running analytics that pull from different databases, for example.
You can also use various programs with artificial intelligence to automate customer communications. Send them a discount email on their birthday, let them know about new products they are most interested in and completely personalize the experience so your clients feel like more than just another number.
4. Increase Sales
Nearly everyone in developed nations carry smartphones. BankMyCell reports 6.648 billion smartphone users in the world. If you can get your customers to download your app, you can ping them when they pass by your store and remind them of special sales, to come in and see you or anything else you’d like.
You can also track how often they visit your store, what they buy when they come in and pop up offers and specials for them. Because they’re connected to the internet via their cell phone, you have instant access to your customers 24/7. One of the biggest IoT benefits for business may simply be in the increased and more targeted communication opportunities.
5. Ensure Worker Safety
Some industries create numerous dangers for employees. For example, construction workers have a high incidence of accidents. Some manufacturing jobs are also risky. Enter IoT benefits for business and new ways to protect your staff.
Whether you’re suffering from the current labor shortage, or you simply want to be a better employer and protect your employees, you can add devices that detect environmental issues or report when one of your staff is in distress.
For example, construction workers can wear a vest that sends an alert if someone grows overheated or their respiration is off. Other sensors can report on potential equipment or structural failures that might result in deadly accidents.
6. Save Money
IoT benefits for business also include the many devices you can use in a workspace. Even office settings benefit from smart thermostats or devices that turn the lights off when no one is around. You can program such devices or automate them to sense movement.
For example, adding a device that turns off bathroom lights unless someone comes into the room can save on energy costs. Keep a handle on every section of your building, too, with various devices.
For example, if half your staff works remotely every other day, you might install systems that turn off lights and heat in empty parts of the building.
Tips and Strategies to Leverage IoT for Business Growth
Now that you understand the immense benefits of IoT in business, consider implementing these tactics to achieve company growth.
Aligning IoT Strategy With Business Goals
When integrating IoT into your business operations, understanding your core objectives is critical. Consider a local grocery store aiming to enhance its inventory management. By aligning their IoT strategy with this goal, they could employ smart shelves with weight sensors. These IoT devices alert staff when stocks are running low, streamlining restocking procedures and reducing the risk of out-of-stock situations.
Similarly, a tech startup with a goal of maximizing workspace efficiency introduces IoT-powered smart lighting systems. They can increase productivity, as automated lighting systems reduce unnecessary power usage and create an optimal working environment.
In both instances, aligning IoT strategies with clear business objectives leads to significant operational improvements. So, it’s essential to pinpoint what you hope to achieve with IoT — whether it’s enhancing efficiency, refining customer service or pioneering products — and draw up an IoT roadmap that directly supports these goals.
Choosing the Right IoT Technology
With many devices and applications in the IoT space, choosing the right technology may seem overwhelming. Even though most companies may be all about having the latest tech, it’s picking what aligns with the business’s needs, budget and size that truly matters.
Let’s say you run a small retail business. Your primary concern may be inventory management. In such a case, IoT solutions like smart shelves and RFID tags could be a good fit since they provide real-time inventory tracking.
Or perhaps you manage a large manufacturing unit, and equipment maintenance is your Achilles heel. Industrial IoT sensors would be a wise investment, as they’re capable of monitoring machine health and predicting failures.
Therefore, consider sifting through the IoT spectrum with a clear understanding of your specific requirements. That’s the key to choosing the right technology for your business.
Implementing Pilot Projects
Integrating IoT technology into your company can be a significant investment of time and resources. Therefore, the best strategy is to start small by implementing pilot projects. This approach allows you to gauge the impact of IoT on your business operations and customer experience without a massive initial delay.
For instance, take a small restaurant aiming to optimize energy usage. They could start a pilot project with smart thermostats in the kitchen. This trial run would provide valuable insights into potential savings and identify any operational issues before a full-scale rollout.
Similarly, a logistics company might initially test IoT-enabled tracking systems on a few vehicles. By monitoring the pilot’s success, they can troubleshoot problems and understand the potential impact before expanding to the entire fleet. Hence, pilot projects are an effective, less risky stepping stone toward full IoT integration.
Investing in Employee Training
While successful implementation of IoT is about choosing the right technology, it also depends on how your team utilizes it to its full potential. Therefore, employee training is a must.
Consider adopting a blended training approach. An e-learning module could provide a better understanding of the IoT technology you plan to implement, its benefits and functionalities. This approach offers flexibility since employees have the ability to learn at their own pace.
The hands-on nature of IoT also requires practical training. Engaging IoT consultants for interactive sessions can give your team a real-world feel of the new technology.
Having an adequately trained workforce will smoothen the transition to the new technology in addition to accelerating the realization of its benefits.
Prioritizing Security in IoT Implementation
As beneficial as IoT can be for businesses, keeping the associated security risks in mind is crucial. IoT devices can be gateways for cybercriminals to breach data and disrupt operations.
The first step to secure your IoT infrastructure is ensuring regular device updates. These updates often patch security vulnerabilities and protect your network from potential exploits.
Data encryption is another powerful tool. By encoding data, you make it harder for unauthorized parties to access sensitive information, even if a breach occurs.
Lastly, develop a response plan for potential breaches. A well-structured plan that outlines steps to isolate affected devices and restore normalcy can greatly minimize damage.
Prioritizing security is a necessity for all businesses using IoT systems because it protects them from cyber threats and maintains client trust.
IoT Is the Wave of the Future
We are in the middle of the wave of the future with the IoT and how connected everyone and everything is today. IoT benefits for business will continue to grow over the years. There’s no telling what new devices will impact companies.
Smart cities will continue to keep a handle on traffic and sanitation and create better opportunities for brands to connect to everything imaginable. Pay attention to what helps your industry the most, and implement the things that help you grow and improve your business model.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.