Is the IoT going to save your business this year?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Eleanor Hecks

Internet of Things devices — new, “smart” gadgets that use the internet to communicate with each other and the cloud — started as consumer tech. Over the past few years, dramatic growth in the IoT industry has led to significant innovation and a wide range of business IoT tools and devices.

Now, businesses across the economy — ranging from major logistics companies to small businesses and solopreneurs — have access to IoT devices that can help them streamline work and simplify business management.

Below, we’ll cover how new business IoT products are reshaping industries across the economy, plus how adopting IoT technology could help improve your business this year.

Smart building management

As the number of IoT devices on the market grows, smart building management with IoT technology has become increasingly practical for building managers.

For nearly every building system, there’s a piece of IoT tech that can enable automatic management. For example, smart thermostats can adjust building temperature, automatically turning off the heat when no one is in the office or compensating for an open window. Smart HVAC systems can communicate with building air quality monitors and alert building supervisors when dust particles start to build up in the office — signaling it might be time for a filter change.

For building managers, this tech has two remarkable benefits. First, it can make buildings much more comfortable for workers. By automatically adjusting lighting, temperature and humidity, it can be easier to maintain optimal working or living conditions for the building’s tenants.

The devices can also improve an operating budget’s bottom line. Cutting the lights when no one is in the office or turning down the thermostat over the holidays can reduce operating costs over time. As a result, smart tech can also have significant sustainability benefits.

With enough data, some smart systems may help building managers identify inefficiencies in building design or layout. For example, they might find an area where natural lighting may make artificial lighting unnecessary, or an area where the arrangement of furniture and interior walls has led to inadequate acoustics.

Manufacturing and logistics

The manufacturing sector and the supply chain have been some of the earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of technology like augmented reality and the IoT. There, IoT sensors and a range of new, internet-connected robotics have paved the way to track raw materials and finished goods.

For logistics businesses that have struggled with an unpredictable supply chain in recent months, the IoT can provide an invaluable information source. Sensors attached to containers of shipped goods can give businesses a stream of real-time data. This information can include GPS data on where the container is, as well as any environmental conditions it’s getting exposed to — like light, heat, vibration and humidity.

Over time, this information can also help companies identify weak links in the supply chain — transportation methods or shippers that tend to result in damaged or spoiled products. With this information, companies can make process changes that help ensure their products make it to customers unharmed.

For manufacturers, IoT devices can offer similar benefits on a smaller scale. Smart factory technology can help supervisors visualize the flow of goods around a factory — providing them with data they can use to optimize factory layout, reducing bottlenecks or adjusting areas that may be slowing workers down.

IoT devices can also communicate with the latest generation of factory robotics, like some autonomous mobile robots. These robots use AI-powered tech to navigate the factory floor by themselves, doing work like moving raw materials from storage to processing.

Factory systems can also use information from IoT devices to change these robots’ behavior on the fly, shifting them to different tasks based on the flow of raw materials and workers around the factory. This automated management style can help factories maximize efficiency without investing in additional tech or resources.

Sensors attached to robots and factory machinery can also create a predictive maintenance strategy. These sensors can track data like vibration, heat and acceleration. Often, it’s possible to see machine failure coming by tracking this information and looking for opportunities to reduce downtime, cut maintenance costs and prevent costly machine failure.

Small businesses

New IoT technology can also do a lot to streamline business interactions and make buildings easier to manage — making the tech practical for small businesses wanting to cut costs and improve customer satisfaction.

For example, mobile card readers and smart payment terminals are a sought-after small business investment. These tools allow you to complete a card transaction from nearly anywhere — simplifying customer payments for businesses that don’t have a traditional point-of-sale system.

IoT technology can also help businesses manage inventory loss. For example, IoT devices attached to essential equipment or products can allow business owners to keep track of these items at all times — reducing the risk of loss or damage.

The same technology that helps building managers create “smart” buildings also applies at a smaller scale in an office or store.

Smart locks and smart camera systems may also be a major asset for businesses that are worried about their physical locations’ security.

How new IoT technology can save a business

For businesses wanting to cut costs and streamline their work, IoT devices can be an invaluable asset. You can implement the right sensor or device for a massive range of applications — like making buildings easier to manage, simplifying transactions or tracking goods.

Over time, data from these devices can help businesses identify weak points in their operations. With these details, they can save money and make their work even more efficient.


Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a prominent digital marketing agency prior to becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.

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