In the time it takes you to make your morning coffee, thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices have already collected significant amounts of data all around the world for unique purposes.
IoT is a term that references our growing connectivity through internet-connected devices and objects. These objects automatically collect and send data online, contributing to a mass network of information accessible from potentially anywhere. And whether that excites you or freaks you out a bit, ignoring the IoT revolution will soon be impossible.
The IoT Takeover
With on-demand streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, delivery apps like Grubhub and GoPuff, and customized product recommendations from online retailers, it’s no secret our consumer landscape is driven by convenience, affordability, and technology. IoT is the next logical step on that path, providing even greater convenience and instant access to anything you might need – whether at home or at work.
Devices like Alexa introduced us to the reality of objects as assistants and connected information sources with vast potential. But IoT isn’t just a consumer fad. According to most research, the greatest potential lies in the business sector.
IoT at the Office
It’s impossible to pigeonhole IoT as having one particular use or a strong point for organizations that employ it. Instead, we need to take a 360-degree view to understand the variety of uses for IoT and the roles it can play in organizational efficiency.
No one likes to feel like they’re doing menial labor, but the reality is that someone – if not everyone – on your team gets stuck with it during their workday. Smart printers are self-monitoring, letting you know when they’re low on ink or paper or need service (and yes, they can even make the refill order themselves). Similarly, smart vacuums handle the cleaning and let you know when they need to be emptied. IoT sensors can even provide a heatmap of your building, revealing overly congested areas, rooms where meetings are taking place, etc. These are just some examples of IoT seamlessly sharing the workload and helping you manage daily operations.
Of course, it isn’t just a helping hand at the office that IoT provides. The notoriously labor-intensive process of collecting, storing, and retrieving data can be automated using IoT sensors. In this way, IoT provides teams with a revolutionary capacity to use data for decision-making and become truly data-driven (without having to hire a huge team of data scientists to manage it all).
IoT for Capturing Data
From the minute details to the big picture, IoT has a place in any data-driven organization’s structure. Use cases from several industries are revealing some of the ways this technology is being put to good use.
For example, any in-person gathering – like an event a retailer holds for its customers, a company-wide training, or a networking event – can become a ‘connected event.’ With this use of IoT sensors, event-holders no longer have to rely on guesswork and qualitative data to determine if the event was a success. Sensor-captured data provides real insight into who was engaged in what activities, when, and where. IoT video analytics is also an emerging security trend, allowing you to monitor building activity and detect abnormal behavior in a given space.
Just as event-holders need real-time insights and control over their space, product-makers need an understanding of their customers’ experience. Tracking product deliveries is one of the simplest ways to monitor experience, along with inventory management. Some companies are finding they can reduce costs on overstocked products while making sure they don’t run out of best-selling products. It’s a delicate balance that is best left to smart devices rather than human guesswork.
In addition, IoT sensors now allow companies to monitor which product features customers are using the most. This opens to floor for tailored email communications, a more effective content marketing strategy, and design edits that enhance future product releases.
“Leveraging IoT has evolved from a connectivity strategy to a business transformation strategy, and has proven results, including increased profitability.” Currently, 45% report IoT has helped boost profits by 1% to 5%, and another 41% say the impact has boosted them by 5% to 15% annually.” source
Getting Started with IoT
Getting started with IoT can be intimidating, as it typically requires investing in new software or hardware and learning the ins and outs of new technology. Furthermore, getting team members on board may require training to allow for a more data-driven culture. You’ll need to consider which devices to employ based on your specific goals, which means you’ll need to consider things like battery life, scalability, and data processing capabilities. In addition, how you connect is a big consideration – cellular, Bluetooth, Ethernet, RFID, NFC, satellite, and WiFi are some of the many ways to connect IoT devices.
Thankfully, with the average cost of a sensor falling every year, implementing this technology will only become more affordable in the years to come. For both B2C and B2B users, possibilities abound. The IoT revolution is creating a web of ever-growing connectivity – and that means real-time information that yields insights you can act on.
In what ways are you most interested in employing IoT to work for you?