Everything is connected, interconnected, cross-connected, wifi-connected, and so on and so on. It seems like every object we come into contact with on a day to day basis is now wireless, hands free, and responds to voice command. Soon, we will have completely automated driverless cars, robot drone deliveries, and maybe even humanoid butlers. This is the world of IoT… the Internet of Things. But how will IoT affect your bottom line?
The Internet of Things in simplest terms represents the interconnection of devices, large and small, through the internet that allows the transfer of data and information.
Small businesses are also taking advantage of the IoT to better connect with customers but also to improve efficiency throughout all business processes. Here are a few examples of how IoT can directly affect your day to day operations:
Management of inventory is built on a foundation of various bar-coding systems, but some of these older systems still require a worker to physically scan individual parts to keep track of product count and location. With IoT smart sensors that utilize cost-effective radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, companies can now efficiently and effectively remotely monitor real-time visibility into product locations and quantities. “Built-in GPS can even allow an organization to pinpoint an item’s location during shopping” 
Many farms in the US are utilizing this IoT technology to better track the conditions of their greenhouse crops and ensure quality control. According to Business Insider, “IoT device installations in the agriculture world will increase from 30 million in 2015 to 75 million in 2020, for a compound annual growth rate of 20%” . One such IoT smart farm platform, called OnFarm, conducted studies to find that the average US farm saw yields increase “by 1.75%, energy costs dropped $7 to $13 per acre, and water use for irrigation fell by 8%” . These are concrete results showing the power of IoT.
Virtual Personal Assistants
Free smart assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri, can help you manage your day to day schedule with a simple voice command. These voice command systems are often connected to an ecosystem of IoT devices that manages your home and work life. From smart device enable speakers, TV’s, lights, and thermostats, to ordering food and groceries, take advantage of these free services to increase your productivity. Some companies even offer a robust business voice command service like Amazon’s Alexa for Business which can be connected to all your office IoT devices from conference room displays to personal devices.
Even banks are starting to utilize Virtual Assistants as a way of servicing their international clients. For example, Standard Chartered Bank (SC) is creating a VA named “Stacy”, as a way to “streamline the customer experience for SC’s large, global, multilingual customer base” . In Canada, TD Bank is planning, creating, and implementing “Clari, a conversational AI-based virtual assistant that provides service to TD customers” . The applications appear to be endless for services industries.
Work from Anywhere
One of the greatest influences on our work life that IoT devices have made is the removal of physical office space and barriers to work. Now, with high speed internet available for most smart phone devices, improved teleconference video software, and even more devices to conduct business (laptops, tablets, even smart watches etc), the workplace can now be anywhere the user chooses. This can provide benefits like help workers balance in their lifestyles but can also have a stressful effect on worker’s lives as “turning off” of work can be even harder when everyone can be reached by text.
The “Internet of Things” is ultimately here to stay and as more elements of our day to day lives are automated in new and innovative ways, be sure to keep a lookout for how IoT can help your small business grow!
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