For small-to-mid-sized businesses, the Internet of Things (IoT) can feel like technology reserved for larger companies with bigger budgets. But that’s far from the case. In fact, two-thirds of SMBs report that they’re already currently investing or plan to invest in IoT solutions.
The evolving technology combines connected devices with cloud-based software and data analytics to improve everything from inventory management to energy use. And as more devices come online, taking advantage of what the IoT has to offer has never been easier. Here are four ways that SMBs can put IoT technology to use:
1. Controlling inventory. SMBs of all sizes are already exploring how the IoT can help them better monitor their inventory—and streamline its management. Putting sensors on shelves is one of the most common examples. Such sensors can denote when inventory is low, and share real-time data. When connected with an inventory management system, that data can then be used to help automate the re-ordering process. Companies are also implementing RFID tags on products themselves to track their journey and deliver insights through the supply chain. The opportunities here for SMBs are myriad. Even on a small scale, finding a way to fine-tune inventory management with IoT data allows you to respond better to demand in real-time, improving customer experiences and saving the cost of having too much or too little of your products.
2. Elevating video data. Video analytics applications will likely be one of the most common business applications of the IoT, according to a recent report by McKinsey. An obvious use is surveillance. Video analytics can be used to assess worker productivity, enhance customer demographic information, monitor in-store traffic and, of course, improve security and loss prevention tactics. The report notes that SMBs are more interested in the latter two—but the potential for greater insights via video is infinite.
3. Increasing energy efficiency. Saving on operating costs is one way to give your bottom line a boost—and energy savings offer a quick hit. IoT tools such as the Nest Learning Thermostat aren’t reserved just for homes. You can use them in your office to monitor and track heating and cooling systems, lights and major appliances. The data provides insights into easy ways to cut back on energy consumption, whether it’s updating aging equipment or turning off lights when employees leave the office.
4. Boosting remote work. The IoT is built off connected devices, software and platforms that increasingly make remote work possible, and even preferable. Mobile phones and laptops are the tools that make staying connected with the business easier than ever before. But they are really just the beginning. The IoT allows remote workers to access devices in the office, store or manufacturing plant. From printers to inventory sensors to security cameras, your employees can connect with and monitor key aspects of your business no matter where they’re located.
The rise of the IoT only stands to benefit small businesses by providing additional data that makes them more competitive, more productive and ultimately more profitable. Look for easy ways to leverage the data from your company’s own connected devices—and let the IoT give your SMB a boost.
Check out Epson’s business solutions to help as you scale your business.