The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase that’s being bandied around a lot recently, but it’s not just a snazzy catch phrase for connected devices; it can have a real impact on businesses. In fact, IoT will revolutionise our operations and processes by helping to reduce business costs and boost profits.
When looking into the implementation of IoT it’s clear that it could have a hugely positive impact on small businesses. By connecting devices, small business will be able to save money. This will put them on a more level playing field with the larger companies who previously were able to monopolise the market. The extra money saved on things like energy and labour costs give small businesses the chance to invest in areas they previously were unable to.
Despite the fact that IoT is still evolving, it’s fast becoming a staple part of our everyday lives. A study by logistics company DHL and IT specialists Cisco predicts that the IoT will save businesses close to £1 trillion in productivity costs alone.
So, in what areas of business can IoT help small businesses reduce costs?
Security cameras as we know them are changing drastically. We’ve previously relied on physical video tape to record hours and hours of footage, but no more. Using IoT, cameras can be viewed remotely meaning business owners no longer need to fork out for reams and reams of video tape or additional hard drives. These cameras don’t need to be connected via wires as they can access an internet connection via an M2M SIM card. This allows them to be put (and moved) anywhere; you can even use them on vehicles as mobile security cameras! It’s also easy, and cheap, to implement systems where premises access is tracked via finger print and badge scanning systems.
Previously, to change the temperature of our offices we’d have to go from room to room adjusting the thermostat. Thankfully this is no longer the case. Many businesses have already introduced smart thermostats that can be controlled remotely; often from a staff member’s mobile phone. This gives businesses the option to turn off the heating/lights etc in parts of the building that aren’t being used. They can also limit thermostats to certain temperatures, and even schedule when and where the heating comes on. Smart energy meters are going to be huge in the next few years, not only for businesses but in the consumer market too.
Save on labour costs
For businesses that monitor equipment or regularly have to repair products for customers, IoT is a game changer. Prior to the age of the Internet of Things, companies would have to physically send a person out to site in order to assess the situation; unsurprisingly, on most occasions the equipment is in perfect working order meaning the engineer wasted their time making the trip. Nowadays data and alerts can be sent directly to your PC detailing the state of your equipment or a customer’s product. Due to this you can decipher what the problem is without actually having to leave your desk.
Continuous revenue stream
As well as saving on labour costs, using trackers and sensors on your products can also be used to generate a continuous revenue stream. By equipping products with some kind of sensor that alerts you if something goes wrong, you may be able to charge the customer a monthly fee to monitor the state of their product. This kind of model works particularly well for businesses that provide machine based products; think vending machines or payment terminals.
Depending on the size of business, maintaining inventory levels can often be a big job. By linking up sensors to products it allows you to remotely monitor your stock levels; meaning you won’t get caught short. With some products (such as vending machines) it’s even possible to automatically order more stock when it’s running low.
On top of the above, IoT can also help reduce business costs in other areas. Safety compliance, stock loss and employee time management are among the popular saving areas.
For small businesses the way technology has developed is no doubt a good thing. The automated processes that are now available thanks to IoT have somewhat levelled the playing field; giving smaller businesses a chance to get a foothold in the market.
Whether this continues or the larger companies’ can somehow spin this to their advantage remains to be seen. But for now, IoT is having a great impact on all businesses.
If you’d like to find out more on how your business can reduce costs and save money by automating time consuming processes then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.