TIPS & TRICKS
15 Effective Ways to Use the IoT for Your Small Business
As a small business owner, you might not have enough hours in the day to scope out how new technology can save you time and money. Luckily for you, we do! The Internet of Things has many use cases beyond the home and your small business could benefit enormously from being smartened up. Some of the core benefits of employing IoT devices include:
Saving money on reduced electricity consumption
Increasing security with entry systems and cameras
Streamlining processes with tedious tasks automated
Optimizing climate control for increased comfort with less effort
Tracking an array of metrics relevant to your business
If you’re not familiar with the Internet of Things, perhaps it sounds like something reserved for huge corporations with the deepest pockets. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you replace “IoT” with “smart devices”, you’ll see that you can install tech throughout your business and reap enormous dividends. All you’ll need to get started is your business WiFi network and any device-specific apps. Installation is usually plug-and-play in its simplicity. We’ll get started right away and walk you through 15 great ways to use the IoT for your small business.
How to Use the IoT for Your Small Business
Smart Security System
Temperature and Climate Control
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Water Leak Detectors
Mobile Card Readers
RFID Tags for Inventory
Supply Chain Data Monitoring
1) Smart Lock
Smart locks offer many benefits for SMBs and should one of your first lines of defence. The more employees you have and the larger your premises, the more chance there is of keys going astray. Not only is this remarkably inconvenient, but it also presents a significant security risk. Bypass physical keys or swipe cards and issue virtual codes instead. A smart lock also helps you to track workplace comings and goings. You’ll also get an alert any time the main door is opened or closed. Stay fully connected with your business around the clock by investing in an intelligent entry system for 2020. Whatever the nature of your business, leverage the Internet of Things to make your life easier, safer, and much more convenient.
2) Video Doorbell
There’s more you can do at the entryway to your small business to streamline procedures. If you have a video doorbell at home, you’ll appreciate the additional layers of security and convenience it delivers. Why not install one in your small business, too? While video doorbells can be beneficial across the board, appointment-only businesses are a great use case. Stop passersby from dropping in if you’re running the kind of business where you don’t want walk-in trade. Since your video doorbell will record footage to be stored in the cloud, you’ve got evidence in the event of any security breach. If you run a small business from home, a video doorbell makes sure you don’t miss any potential customers. Chip in using the video and two-way audio even if you’re out.
3) Connected Cameras
With your lock and doorbell uprated, it’s time to turn your attention to wired or wireless security cameras. Security cameras are available for both indoor and outdoor use. While some cameras offer subscription services offering you more cloud storage, costs are reasonable. If you compare the cost of smart security cameras to a traditional CCTV system, you’ll end up making dramatic savings with superior results. Choose wireless cameras to completely eliminate cables. They also simplify installation. Whether you’ve got a sprawling series of buildings and warehouses or a single home office, keep an eye on everything remotely while capturing security footage. As with all IoT devices, success is predicated on a strong and dependable WiFi connection so make sure you have this handled. Our advice for maximum robustness is to employ a mesh WiFi network. You’ll get radically improved reliability as nodes – much like mini-routers – hose signal out with no flat spots.
4) Smart Security System
If you have a business, you have an investment that needs protecting so don’t skimp on your security system. There’s no right or wrong approach to smart security systems. The majority of these systems will cover all the main bases for you. Expect sensors to monitor doors and windows along with motion sensors to detect unexpected occupancy. Some systems throw in heat and leak sensors… more on those below. You’ll also, of course, get security cameras along with an alarm. Most major players in this space offer professionally-monitored solutions if you want everything out of your hands. Costs vary significantly from provider to provider so do your due diligence. Time spent before committing to a contract could save you a huge headache later down the line.
5) Smart Lighting
If you have even the faintest interest in home automation, you’ll be well aware of the benefits of smart lighting. Reap all these advantages and more by smartening up your workplace lighting. By going all-in with energy-efficient LEDs, remote control, and motion sensors, you can make a serious difference to your ongoing energy costs. Smart lights more than most tech represents an investment rather than an expense. Get it right and watch those utility bills drop by perhaps 10% monthly. As an added bonus, if you have a larger workspace, LED bulbs last far longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, too. There are benefits to smart lighting beyond the economy, though. You’ll also find controlling your lighting remotely gives you more freedom to manipulate brightness levels. Using lighting correctly can help increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
6) Temperature and Climate Control
If you’re looking for another way to generate savings, a smart thermostat allows you to optimize and easily manage climate control in your business. Opting for one of the better thermostats like Google Nest Learning means your thermostat will use AI to “learn” behavioural patterns. Reduce the time you spend programming and fiddling around and let the thermostat run things for you. Most decent smart thermostats are widely compatible with other smart devices. This gives you a broader scope to automate multiple devices according to the needs of your SMB. For many reasons, automating heating and cooling in the workplace is more challenging than doing so at home. You could consider a commercial-grade thermostat for more control. Climate control harnessing the IoT can also be useful if you need to keep close tabs on storage facilities packed with perishables. Why leave things to chance when you can automate it instead?
7) Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Fitting smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your small business is a matter of safety and could save you from the horrors of fire damage. The majesty of WiFi-enabled smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is the fact you’ll be able to respond to alerts out-of-hours. Look for detectors packing split-spectrum sensors. These intelligent sensors can distinguish between fast-burning and slow-burning fires. Protect your small business around the clock for a very nominal investment with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
8) Water Leak Detectors
Just like a fire, water leaks can wreak chaos in a workplace if they remain undetected. Why take such a huge risk when you can install some WiFi sensors without spending a fortune? Installation is as simple as popping a sensor or two near any devices liable to leak. Plug the sensor into a wall plug or use a wireless sensor. Then hook up the device to your business WiFi and stay aware of any unwanted moisture accumulating. Act promptly to save your company from a stinging insurance claim and the nightmare of water damage. Water leak detectors can typically pick up on unexpected temperature changes, too. Combine sensors with water shut-off valves for even more comprehensive cover.
9) Digital Assistants
Smart speakers and smart displays are arguably even more useful in the workplace than at home. Right off the bat, you get a superb method of controlling all your other connected devices hands-free. This alone should be enough of a selling point. Beyond voice control, you can also schedule meetings, search your emails, and organize your day without lifting a finger.
If you have any kind of small business, chances are you’re always pushed for time. Why not consider implementing a chatbot on your Facebook business page? Automating responses to routine queries is not purely the domain of large enterprises. Never miss the chance to help a customer again even if you’re away from the office. Your chatbot can do more than respond to basic and frequently asked questions, though. From analyzing the data collected to automating sales, we’re truly excited to see how AI progresses with regard to chatbots.
11) Mobile Card Readers
mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) devices have taken the retail world by storm. We might not yet have a cashless society but we’re certainly pushing in that direction. With more and more consumers using cards, make sure your business is prepared. Although you might benefit from not needing to hold as much cash on the premises, mPOS devices can be vulnerable to fraud and hacking just like any connected device. Make certain you keep your system fully updated. Put a firewall, two-factor authentication, and endpoint protection in place. It also goes unsaid you should employ sound password management.
12) RFID Tags for Inventory
RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags combined with the Internet of Things can help you to build out a smart store but what does this entail? From inventory tracking to automatically updating stock, you’ll get your business running more efficiently saving you time and money. RFID tags are not only for the likes of Amazon. They work equally well in small businesses, too.
13) Supply Chain Data Monitoring
If you’re looking to gain deep insights into your supply chain, connected devices allow you to analyze data with ease. Devices can also be installed for the purposes of monitoring emissions and cargo management. Take full advantage of all that data at your fingertips and get your business running just the way you want it.
14) Shipping Trackers
If your business deals with long-distance shipping, using the IoT gives you end-to-end visibility of all your deliveries. Remove the guesswork from the equation. Not only do shipping trackers allow you to closely monitor critical deliveries, but the 30,000-foot view you’ll get of your business also has other benefits. You can use the information at your disposal to identify any inefficiencies in the supply chain making changes as necessary.
15) Occupancy Sensors
Last but certainly not least, occupancy sensors can help you to bring down your utility bills. Kiss goodbye to heating, cooling, and lighting empty rooms. Usher in automated climate control and lighting to match occupancy. If you have a small business that’s rapidly growing, you might run into problems when you’re trying to schedule meetings. Which rooms are vacant and most convenient? With occupancy measurements in place, you can easily determine who is likely to be where and when. Streamline scheduling and make your life easier with occupancy sensors.
Whatever the nature of your small business, hopefully, today’s glimpse at applications of the IoT has given you some inspiration. There’s no need to limit home automation to the home. Simhome is equally useful in the workplace. Be sure to come back regularly, too. We update our content daily throughout the week. If you’re eager for even more home automation help, why not sign up for our email newsletter?