Here’s Why Your Small Business Should Be Using IoT
It’s not just the playground of mighty corporations; the ‘everything connected’ business arena can work wonders for organisations of all sizes!
IoT Streamlines the Flow!
The IoT of the small business workplace is one that embraces simplification and cuts down on time-wasting multi-tasking. A good example of its implementation is establishing workflows that channel the information you need every day into a single place.
Examples of tools include, Google Drive, Trello, Slack and One Note. Once decided upon, you can tailor your tool of choice to channel all your news, stats, financials and sales data.
Businesses that have implemented this form of IoT into their workplace have reportedly gained up to 40% back of the time previously spent multi-tasking activities.
Plug in Your New Assistant
Fancy an office assistant you don’t need to pay a salary to? Well they’re readily available and you probably already have one at home. Amazon Echo and Google Home devices are now proudly strutting their IoT stuff in small business offices up and down the country thanks to their ability to schedule meetings, book meeting spaces, broadcast directly to conference rooms, set reminders, send messages and even order office supplies.
Amazon has the upper edge over Google right now however with its recent introduction of Alexa for Business, which allows additional skills such as the ability to review the latest sales data, or to check on the inventory levels in your warehouse.
To access its range of services you’ll need to join up to Amazon’s AWS services. This works as an IoT utility, giving access to numerous cloud services including Alexa for Business and, like any utility bill, you only pay for what you use. Getting Alexa on board using this new service costs around £5 per month per device, with an additional ‘cost per user’ of around £2.
Amazon is also developing user access to business information on employee phones using the free Alexa app, making it a great remote working tool in its own right.
Radio frequency identification (RFID), which uses radio waves to automatically identify goods or people, is becoming increasingly popular in terms of IoT small business adoption due to its very low cost to implement. It’s most often used in the retail and manufacturing sectors and works by storing a serial number on a microchip that's attached to an antenna.
The chip and the antenna combined are termed an RFID tag. Small business are attracted to the fact that tags cost as little as 20 cents each and, unlike a barcode, which requires ‘Line of sight’ contact, RFID tagging allows assets to be identified simply by proximity, which varies in range according to the tag type, where it is, and the underlying wireless technology it uses.
There is also NFC (Near Field Communication) technology that enables a mobile phone with the Android operating system to operate as a scanner. The phone can scan an RFID tag, decode the data and display it, this means that specialised scanners are not required giving large cost savings.
The tags can be used for numerous purposes such as supply chain tracking, where business owners are able to analyse transport routes to evolve and improve the efficiency of deliveries and provide essential purchasing data for maximising production and stock levels.
Office Maintenance IoT Style
We all know how easy it is to forget to turn off the lights at night or to ensure a door is securely locked, which for a small business, can have disastrous consequences both in terms of costs and of course security.
Today’s range of smart IoT devices can allow business owners to ensure that energy is used efficiently at all times, by enabling lights to be monitored and controlled from anywhere, office and conference room temperatures can be set at optimum levels for productivity and doors can be securely locked and monitored overnight.
Small offices can even do away with the cleaning lady (or gent) by investing in an AI powered floor cleaning device such as the iRobot Roomba, which thoroughly vacuums floors at a set time each day and then dutifully return to its charging unit when the job is done.
Keeping your business fit
The use of personal wearables has grown exponentially over the past few years, with many of us choosing to track our daily steps or check up on our heartrate while on the move. For businesses of all sizes, ensuring the health of our staff is a prudent one as healthy, happy staff will take less sick days and be more productive in their daily endeavours.
With this in mind, many businesses are investing in staff wearables to not only allow staff to keep track of their daily fitness levels but to enable business to keep tabs on where they are. This is less ominous as it sounds as wearables are great ways of gathering locational data for say sales visit analytics or for sending notifications and instructions to workers on the fly.
For small business looking to leverage the power of technology in order to evolve and remain on top of their game, there’s no doubt that the incorporation of IoT technology into the way of working paves the way towards future growth.
There’s no better time to get on board and start embracing digital transformation within your business structure so what are you waiting for?