The Internet of Things, or IoT, is an interconnected network of data-collecting and data-sharing devices. Many of us use IoT devices in our day-to-day lives. These include smart watches, home security cameras, GPS units, and more.
In our previous post, What is IoT?, we went into detail about IoT’s meaning, how IoT works, what IoT devices are, and more. In this post, however, we want to focus on what IoT means for businesses. We will share how IoT business intelligence and solutions will shape commerce for years to come.
But first, let us take a look at what IoT in business looks like today.
How IoT is Shaping Business Today
As expected, providers of IoT devices like smart watches, GPS units, and more have been harnessing the power of IoT for years. However, IoT business solutions are not limited to companies centered around these devices.
For example, many businesses use IoT devices to track assets and inventory. As parcels are shipped and delivered, business owners can pull their real-time location on command. This reduces confusion around items that appear to be lost in transit.
Another way businesses are using IoT devices is to gain insight into and improve the customer experience. For instance, a warehouse manager who manually pulls data reports from devices every day might benefit from an automated daily reporting function.
As IoT devices gather preferences and data for all of a business’ customers, this IoT business intelligence can be used to improve products and experiences. The tradeoff, McKinsey points out in Ten Trends Shaping the Internet of Things Business Landscape, is the need to prioritize cybersecurity for both the business and customers.
Which Industries Benefit from IoT?
While many industries benefit from IoT business intelligence and solutions, there are a few in particular currently getting the most out of the technology:
According to IoT For All, IoT fleet management solutions are reducing costs and saving lives. Thanks to telematics, predictive weather analytics, and safe driving behavior detectors, the IoT ensures that vehicles are efficiently and safely reaching their destinations. IoT devices can even increase fuel efficiency and alert fleet managers when maintenance is needed.
Logistics and Operations
Similar to fleet management, IoT business solutions are helping to improve safety in logistics and operations. IoT devices can detect machinery in need of maintenance, and wearables can even alert managers to critical changes in employees’ vital signs.
IoT business intelligence is assisting logistics and operations with other concerns, as well. IoT devices can control who has access to warehouses and, as mentioned earlier, can track assets if they go missing. Accumulated data on employee and asset movement can also bring attention to bottlenecks and redundancies in operations, saving the business time and money.
Many employees took their work home in 2020, pushing more remote businesses to truly leverage IoT business solutions. For most, the ability to work and meet from home has been a matter of safety and health. For example, as scholarly journal Jamia reported in Telehealth Transformation: COVID-19 and the Rise of Virtual Care that wearable devices like blood sugar and pressure monitors assisted doctors in treating patients at a distance.
This reach isn’t limited to healthcare providers. IoT business intelligence is leading to developments in workforce training, remote security, and more. The future of work-from-home is powered by the IoT.
Much in the same way that IoT devices can clue managers in to the need for machine or vehicle maintenance, so too can they inform businesses when something goes awry with a customer product. This enables proactive customer service; businesses can reach out and offer help or possibly even solve the problem before the customer ever knows something is wrong.
Customer usage data captured and transmitted by IoT devices can also provide business intelligence for proactive marketing, sales, and customer support. For instance, if usage of a product or service is surging in a certain geographic area, it might be time to push an ad campaign there.
As mentioned earlier, security is a major concern when it comes to IoT devices and the data they share. However, many IoT business solutions are increasing security. As Security Magazine points out in How the Internet of Things Can Improve Public Safety, IoT devices can identify unstable buildings and structures, locate people who are lost or in danger, and keep places of business sanitary with monitored trash collection, pest control, and more.
The potential of IoT business intelligence in the security space is endless. IoT devices and technology have the ability to track movements of people and assets in real time, monitor spaces with IoT-enabled cameras, and use data to identify and predict security weaknesses.
How to Integrate IoT into Your Business
Now that you have explored what IoT is and what it can do, you may feel ready to integrate it into your business. To do so, you’ll need to complete a few steps.
First, ensure that your team understands IoT and what it’s capable of. Ideally, you’ll have team members who already know how to implement IoT business solutions. If not, you may need to consider hiring an IoT specialist or partnering with IoT professionals to assist.
Next, make sure your network, budget, and security team can accommodate the demands of an IoT network. Again, an IoT business solutions partner may be your best asset at this stage. Be realistic about where your business stands and what it can achieve.
Then, create an IoT testing environment and define what success looks like for your business. Once you’ve deployed IoT devices across your business and/or customer base, it’s hard to get them back for updates or improvements. Test small first, measure results, and repeat until you have the perfect solution.
Finally, determine who will update, maintain, and make decisions around your IoT network and compliance. That may be you, but if you feel someone with more expertise should be calling the shots, then be sure to seek out professionals with a background in IoT business.
Future of IoT
The future of IoT is vast. IoT devices are slowly expanding into spaces outside of our homes, cars, and workplaces. Cities, transportation systems, and even our own bodies are more interconnected than ever before thanks to IoT innovations.
For businesses, this means even more opportunity to leverage developments like artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, 5G, and more. With an eye for security and opportunity, astute business owners can use the IoT to facilitate rapid company growth.