The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to everyday physical objects, such as vehicles, appliances, and other items, that are connected with the Internet through sensors and other software. This allows these objects from your watch to your coffee machine to send and receive data. While IoT may seem like something of the future, it is already commonplace among consumers, thanks to products like Apple Watch and Amazon’s Alexa. And analysts expect for IoT to have an economic impact of up to $11.1 trillion.
Small businesses can take advantage of the benefits that IoT have to offer. A Spiceworks study revealed that “20% of companies with under 100 employees are currently using IoT, and 17% more plan to utilize it in 2018.” There are a variety of ways that IoT can help small business owners work more efficiently, such ashelping them control costs, track inventory, and improve manufacturing and other processes. In this post, we will discuss the ways that small business owners can leverage IoT to improve the efficiency of their businesses.
Give Yourself a Digital Assistant
There are many digital tools, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, which can help streamline tedious day-to-day activities and give small business owners back valuable time to improve their bottom line. These digital assistants are gaining more skills by the day, and according to pcmag.com, can assist with tasks “From scheduling to productivity to email marketing and website monitoring.”
You can connect these tools to note-taking tools, project management systems, calendars, and even your social media channels. To learn more about how Alexa and other digital assistants can streamline your operations, take a look at Alexa for Business Solutions.
Multiple studies have shown that multitasking is usually inefficient and most of us are not very good at it. Luckily, there are various ways that you can setup workflows using IoT that minimize multi-tasking and allow small business owners to focus on their bottom line. There are a variety of tools from your email inbox, such as Evernote, Slack, and Trello, that allow you to customize workflows and fill the system with important alerts, sales data, and news. With the help of these IoT workflows, you will no longer have to lose time due to multi-tasking.
Automate the Maintenance of Your Office or Shop
As many small business owners may know, leaving the lights on through the night or forgetting to lock your business’s door can have seriously negative consequences. To mitigate this risk, you can automate some simple maintenance routines through IoT tools. For instance, you can install a smart lock security system in your office or shop, so if you forget to lock the door when you leave, you can simply lock it from your phone or computer. You can also purchase connected light bulbs. Even better, you can get a coffee maker that starts brewing the minute you walk in the door! With these types of devices, you can set up automations that will both close and open your business for you.
Improve Communication with Your Team
There is a big chance that you could automate many of the reminders you share with your team and employees. There are a variety of communications tools, including Slack and GroupMe, that allow you to automate updates so that your team receives the right information at the right time, without you having to remember. For instance, you can set up automatic reminders for your employees to log their time-off at a specific time each week. You can even setup reminders for yourself using these tools.
Analyze Your Competitors
As a small business, you may not be able to hire a PR or communications team to monitor your competitors. However, it’s important to always keep an eye on the competitive landscape to keep your business ahead. You can use various search and keyword functions on Twitter or even traditional news media, which will give you alerts when there’s any sort of update on one of your competitors.
It’s clear that IoT is all about giving you the tools to make your small business more efficient and helping you to do your job better. Take some time to consider which types of applications will fit well with your small business.