The Internet of Things: How it can save your business money
Is your business ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)? The IoT promises to disrupt the way we do business; IoT-ready businesses will be adoption leaders who could gain an edge over competitors.
The IoT offers exciting opportunities for businesses regardless of industry, and one of these is the potential for massive cost savings. One study suggests the IoT will generate US$8 trillion in value over a decade, and major tech brands are already saving big on utilities with IoT.
Experts are predicting the IoT will bring about a fourth industrial revolution. The IoT will see billions of devices connected to the internet and talking to each other. By 2020 more than half of new businesses will be using the IoT. Everything from fridges and fitness bands to industrial tractors and production lines can be IoT enabled.
How to cut your business costs
The IoT is in its infancy, but it’s already enabling businesses to save in ways not available before. Sharing data across networks to control how a device works can deliver incredible benefits. For example, IoT-enabled cell towers can sense when usage is low and enter sleep mode to save energy costs.
Business can maximise just-in-time inventory management practices with the IoT. Organisations can monitor inventory levels and reorder only when stock is at a critical level, gaining better control to meet customer demands. IoT sensors make it easy to track stock in real time even if you’re geographically dispersed, so centralised planning is easier.
Compliance and safety
Compliance can be onerous for small businesses without a big risk management budget. An IoT platform could eliminate the need for costly consultants and personnel. Smaller organisations can invest in inexpensive sensors to keep track of things like temperature and air quality, logistics companies can track driving speeds, and food companies can even check employees are washing their hands.
IoT cameras allow instant remote monitoring of sites, making it easier for business owners to monitor their premises. Security companies can save on labour and eliminate in-person checks with IoT cameras.
Maintenance and repairs
Businesses can assess products under warranty without sending personnel to the customer’s site. The IoT-enabled equipment communicates with your network so you’re notified as soon as problems arise. Businesses with extensive service and maintenance operations could end up with massive labour cost savings.
Utilities and overheads
Integrated devices can empower employers to track remote workers and save on onsite overheads. Smart IoT devices can automatically power down according to demand. For example, an IoT thermostat can detect how many people are in the room and power down if the room’s empty. Responsive technologies like these have already saved some businesses 70% in lighting costs and 30% in heating costs.
Marketing and product strategy
Businesses can use IoT data to understand customers and how they consume products. The data ready at hand allows businesses to save on expensive market studies and product redesigns. It could reduce customer churn and automate personalisation in marketing.
As the IoT trend drives a shift from products to services or outcomes, businesses might find it easier to retain customers. For example, rather than selling a thermostat, the company sells a temperature-control service guaranteeing comfort. This can help companies generate ongoing subscription-based revenue while saving on customer retention costs.
The IoT holds potential for improving manufacturing processes. Manufacturing plants have numerous moving parts, and a small failure can shut down an entire production line. Collecting data on IoT-enabled production lines empowers predictive maintenance. This leads to less unplanned downtime and supports better production flow. For example, a basic vibration sensor can alert staff to do preventative repairs.
The IoT allows managers to find new cost efficiencies, including utilities. Enabled devices can be connected to produce a seamless network in a secure and efficient way. The IoT’s potential for manufacturing applies to any asset-heavy industry where you’re keeping track of facilities, hardware, and inventory. Monitoring, whether for safety or productivity, can be fully automated.
The freight industry and businesses with fleets can leverage IoT platforms to cut costs and enhance efficiencies. Sensors can be used to detect everything from pick-up demands to traffic conditions. Drivers can be rerouted to save time and petrol costs.
IoT sensors can notify businesses when maintenance or repairs need to be done, so there’s less need for maintenance reviews.
Businesses with complex order-fulfilment procedures will save big with the IoT. For example, IoT systems can be designed to deliver data on inventory, vehicles, delivery to the employee who needs to manually process the order. If the order processing requires checking multiple departments, the IoT can eliminate this step. The employee can work out whether the order can be fulfilled at a glance and notify the customer immediately.
Payment and tracking usage
Retail operations could eliminate labour costs by using IoT payment systems. For example, restaurants can register customers when they arrive by using smartphone pay systems. Customer pay automatically when they order their food through a device, and the system sends them an e-receipt when they leave.
Gyms can use the IoT to charge by usage. Sensors will track how long the customer stays and the system can generate a bill and process payments as they leave. The same concept can be applied to carparks and public transport.
The healthcare industry can also save big by using the IoT. Doctors and nurses can remote monitor patients and save on labour and time spent on in-person checks. IoT devices can check blood sugar readings and heart rates. These devices can collect lifestyle data – ranging from sleeping patterns to exercise levels – and help doctors make recommendations.
Smart home products like automated living room lamps are only the start. As the IoT continues to disrupt the technology landscape, businesses will have options to save big on expenses and improve efficiency. If you started preparing for the IoT now, your business will be able to take advantage of significant cost savings.
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