The IoT (Internet of Things) is a relatively aged concept at this point. Automatic cooperation between millions of devices connected through a global network has been a pervasive idea for about three decades.
However, advances in technology over the last decade or so have facilitated rapid developments in IoT applications. Business and industrial use cases are quite common, at this point, and smart devices, or IoT devices, have percolated into consumer markets.
IoT gadgets connected to local networks via IoT SIM cards offer plenty of convenience for consumers. However, the potential for the IoT to benefit businesses goes far beyond convenience. Implementing IoT can help build leaner, more efficient companies that deliver higher quality products and services.
Business Benefits of IoT
The benefits of IoT for businesses can be broken down into two broad categories: automation and connectivity.
Communication between devices and equipment, without the need for human intervention, enables all sorts of automation.
Large scale connectivity on a single IoT network offers easy access to high volumes of information.
Obviously, these two high-level benefits can be further subdivided into more specific benefits. So, without getting too into the weeds of industry-specific use cases, these are the benefits that IoT offers to all sorts of businesses.
1. Reduced Labor and Improved Staff Productivity
Automation has been used for industrial production for a long time. However, legacy automation technology was large and best suited for factories and large-scale production.
Now, devices are smaller and automation software has expanded the potential use cases for automation. IoT solutions enable mundane tasks, or at least parts of mundane tasks, to be automated.
This reduces the labor requirements and enables companies to allocate human labor to more complex tasks that require creativity, interpersonal skills, and ideation—activities which are currently incredibly difficult or even impossible to automate.
More efficient labor allocation puts people in positions where they’re most valuable and helps teams get more done.
2. More Efficient Operations Management
IoT devices are capable of collecting and tracking huge volumes of data. This is a huge benefit to management teams, because data points such as inventories, shipments, spare parts, and consumable resources such as fuel can be tracked in real-time.
Having this sort of up-to-the-minute information solves one of the biggest challenges in management: making time-limited decisions with incomplete information. Having more complete information on-demand enables management teams to make informed decisions at the speed of business.
3. Better Asset and Resource Allocation
IoT sensors and devices make it possible to monitor and schedule resource usage.
For instance, devices such as simple motion sensors, businesses can optimize their electricity usage. The same goes for other resources such as water, fuel, and even man hours.
This helps businesses reduce utility costs, optimize working hours and schedules, and increase productivity and environmental impact.
4. Improved Operational Efficiency
In any business venture, time always equals money. Sometimes time spent is apparent and easy to measure. Working hours, time spent in contract development, and similar time requirements show up on calendars.
However, one of the biggest drains on business resources is downtime that’s difficult to measure.
For example, in manufacturing, components often sit waiting to move to the next stage of the manufacturing process. Sometimes this is just a few minutes, but in an operation where thousands or millions of pieces are produced, these few minutes can add up to significant production delays.
IoT solutions can collect and present the data businesses need to identify these tiny bits of down time. That way business planners and operators can optimize processes and deliver massive gains in operational efficiency.
5. Safer Working Environments
IoT devices can be used to improve all aspects of safety.
Sensors can monitor all sorts of working environment conditions, from air quality to proper lighting. IoT devices such as cameras and motion sensors help improve security. IoT solutions can also track equipment usage and keep proper maintenance schedules.
IoT data also helps reduce human error at both the strategic and operations levels, because everyone will have better information to make better decisions.
6. Better Intelligence for Marketing and Business Development
As we mentioned earlier, smart devices have also made their way into consumer markets.
Customers interact with smart devices all the time, which creates a robust data collection ecosystem that gives businesses tons of information about how people use products, windows of high service demands, and all sorts of other user-specific data.
The level of data collection might be controversial to some people. However, the bottom line is that all this data is incredibly valuable for setting prices, targeted advertising, developing business strategies, and all other company growth activities.
7. Reduced Customer Churn
The previous benefit also helps businesses understand customer behavior and expectations. This makes for better sales strategies, customer service policies, and automating customer outreach.
This makes subscription models more efficient and profitable, helps keep customers informed of required equipment maintenance and updates, communicates about warranty periods, and so on. Also, with better intelligence about customer behavior, customer outreach can be scheduled so that it arrives when customers are most receptive.
8. More and Better Business Opportunities
Since IoT enables companies to operate more efficiently, with better information, IoT solutions enable businesses to take advantage of opportunities that may have otherwise been out of reach, especially in B2B markets.
Producing better products and services, and delivering better customer service also helps attract more customers and makes a company more attractive as a business partner for other businesses.
9. Improved Brand Reputation
A brand that properly leverages IoT solutions will develop a better brand reputation, at all levels.
Producing more and better products is attractive to customers, in both B2C and B2B markets. A safer, more productive working environment attracts better talent. Then, getting more customers and providing a better employee experience entices investors and business partners.
IoT Is the Future of Business
Right now, the capabilities and benefits of IoT are incredible. However, the adaptation of IoT solutions is only going to increase, and IoT technology is widely regarded as one of the most promising developments for the future of business.
If your business hasn’t started adopting or developing a strategy for implementing IoT solutions, it’s time to start. Businesses that are left on the trailing end of IoT adoption could find themselves scrambling in the coming years.