It’s no secret that the Internet of Things (IoT) has exploded in recent years. In 2015, there were roughly 15.4 billion connected devices, and according to IHS, this number will reach 30.7 billion in 2020, and 75.4 billion by 2025. Intel thinks that number will be even larger, predicting 200 billion connected devices by 2020.
Global spending on IoT is astounding as well. In 2016, global spending in IoT across industries was $737 billion. IDC forecasts that by 2020, this number will reach $1.29 trillion, a compound annual growth rate of 15.6 percent. According to General Electric, the IoT will add $10-$15 trillion to the worldwide GDP growth by 2030, which is the current equivalent of China’s entire current economy.
From wearables to connected cars to sensors, there are numerous ways IoT can help make life and business easier. But many wonder if the IoT is just for big companies who can afford to invest large sums of money into this innovative technology. Currently, there are many ways that small businesses can use IoT technology to improve everyday work-life. From free assistants to smart offices, here are four ways that the IoT can help small companies work more efficiently and productively.
1. Free assistants to make the day easier.
For those who cannot afford a human assistant but still need the extra help, Google Assistant is there. Alternatively, some people prefer to use Amazon Alexa or Siri, but what really makes these devices stand out is when they are connected to reminder and task management systems and calendars. These devices can control other smart devices, eliminating menial tasks such as scheduling and research, helping create a more productive day.
2. Smart locks and connected cameras instead of security guards.
Companies like August have created a smart lock system so anyone can “give access, not keys” and control and monitor a door from anywhere. Furthermore, the Smart Lock can tell if the door has been left open and users can opt for the package that includes a doorbell camera to see who is at the door before opening.
Alternatively, or in addition, small businesses can invest in connected cameras to monitor security footage in various places around a company location. Instead of having to hire a full-time security guard, these IoT options ensure a safe surrounding.
3. Learn to improve space efficiency.
Small businesses don’t have the budget for wasted resources, but IoT can solve this problem by maximizing office space. Installed sensors can pick up activity and heat to monitor what area or areas are used the most in an office. These sensors do not have cameras, so they do not watch who is where and when which impedes on employees privacy.
This information then relayed to management or HR can illustrate when conference rooms go unused or if office restructuring is needed. Maybe certain departments need to work closer together, or additional smaller workspaces are necessary for meetings; sensors can tell all of this information so that small organizations can maximize space. Coupled with smart thermostats and smart lighting, IoT-based offices will maximize productivity and savings.
4. Smarter transport and delivery of goods.
For companies that have a lot of shipments coming in and out, the IoT allows for much better tracking in real time. The implementation of smart tags and sensors mean that anyone with access can track the transport and delivery of packages with precise information, which is incredibly valuable for small businesses sending sensitive information.
For the retail industry, sensors and smart tags are a game changer. These IoT devices can track where each and every item is in real-time, even if the item is sitting in a warehouse somewhere. This means much more efficient stocking and inventory tracking and maximum use of resources.
According to Business Insider, business spending on IoT solutions will reach $6 trillion by 2021. The report notes that companies will spend so much in IoT because of the technology’s ability to lower operation costs, increase productivity, and help companies expand to new markets or develop new product offerings. IoT not only helps a company’s bottom line, but it also improves the quality of work-life for employees.
The IoT industry will improve the way we work, making more efficient use of resources and space. For small businesses trying to grow and compete with larger enterprises, this efficiency is crucial. As the IoT continues to automate certain offices tasks, such as customer service and resource management, small organizations should take advantage of the offerings to stay competitive in the market.