How the IoT Benefits Small Businesses

how the iot benefits small businesses

The Internet of Things, or IoT, is growing rapidly in the United States, with millions of new devices going online every month. More than six billion IoT connections will be in our country in five years. The IoT has become one of the driving forces of growth, efficiency, and cost savings for millions of businesses in various industries. In a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 6 in 10 small business owners said the IoT helped increase employee productivity and collaboration, and 44% said it helped reduce energy costs.

Although corporations and middle-market companies make up the most significant pieces of the IoT pie, small businesses are making inroads. However, many small business owners do not fully understand the IoT. So, Balboa Capital created a blog post that explains how the IoT benefits small businesses.

What is the IoT?

You are reading this Balboa Capital blog post from either a computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you did not have an Internet connection, this would not be possible. The Internet is a technological marvel that lets you buy products, watch movies, turn alarms on and off, read books, listen to music, and more – anytime, anywhere. This brings us to the concept of the IoT, which is relatively simple.

The IoT is the idea of connecting any device or machine, such as a smartphone, smart device, alarm system, smart car, or airplane engine, to the Internet over a closed network. With IoT, devices equipped with special applications and data-collecting technologies can communicate with one another. For example, your business’s information technology (IT) department can use the IoT to gather information about hardware, software, and cloud-based security systems. Or, your office manager can use IoT to determine when office supplies are running low and order more automatically.

Types of IoT solutions.

The IoT might seem overwhelmingly complex, depending on what you have read or heard. The IoT is an extensive and multifaceted collection of tools and technologies that collect information and create algorithm-based solutions. As a small business owner, you do not need to know how the IoT architecture is set up or learn how hardware, software, and firmware communicate together. Instead, you need to identify areas of your business that could use some improvement and look at the available IoT solutions. Industry-specific packages, lower price points, and easier implementation processes make the IoT more accessible to small business owners.

Small businesses nationwide deploy IoT tools such as smart locks, smart thermostats, voice assistants, chatbot technology, smartphone shopping, RFID inventory tags, data-driven pricing solutions, and shipping trackers. For equipment vendors and supply chain businesses, among others in the B2B sector, the IoT can help fulfill orders on time, provide real-time inventory analytics, and improve the customer experience. The IoT is also transforming the healthcare industry. For example, physicians use the IoT to monitor their patients’ health and gather real-time data to help diagnose health concerns at their earliest stages.

Example of the IoT in action.

The manufacturing of products, equipment, and goods is essential to consumers, businesses, and our nation’s economy. Manufacturing is one of the biggest and most competitive industries, and it adapts to new technologies when they become available. Here is an example of how one manufacturing company uses the IoT to take its business to the next level. The company was dealing with a big problem affecting its bottom line and reputation. It had machinery that would periodically malfunction without warning, causing production to halt.

Therefore, its management team invested in an IoT solution that uses sensors and analytics to forecast when its machines will reach their peak and need maintenance. Since deploying its IoT solution, the company has its equipment checked and serviced long before potential problems occur. This helps reduce downtime and boost productivity. Moreover, it helps prolong the lifespan of the manufacturing equipment.

Where to begin.

Before investing in the IoT, you should determine how it might benefit your small business from an operational and financial perspective. For example, how will it be implemented, and at what cost? Will it improve your company’s current processes? Will it save money? Will it drive revenue? Will your employees embrace it, and will they use its data?

No two small businesses use the IoT the same way, so do not go with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Instead, consulting with your IT manager or an IoT solution provider will help you tackle the challenge of determining where to begin.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.