Do you remember when iPods were the size of today’s smartphones?
That would be the early 2000s, back when the real world implementations of the concept known as the Internet of Things (IoT) began in earnest.
Having been on the tips of all our tongues for the last couple of years now, the IoT today is so much more than a concept.
The number of connected devices we use is increasing exponentially every year, and there will be 200 billion of them by 2020.
From smart thermostats to connected household appliances, our personal lives are certainly made more efficient thanks to the IoT.
Our refrigerators and cars are smarter, but what about our businesses?
Let’s explore five ways businesses have benefitted—and will continue to benefit—from the IoT.
1. Data collection.
This one is almost a no-brainer. The success of the IoT hinges upon the collection of data—completed via connected sensors—and the quality of the insight organizations are able to derive from it.
Consider manufactured products, for example. If you’re able to discern how (or even how frequently) a customer uses a product—and in real time, nonetheless—you can apply that insight to product development, marketing, and a whole lot more.
2. Employee health and education.
A recent survey found that more than two thirds of U.S. employers offer wellness programs, and sensor-driven devices like wearables can be used to incentivize those increasingly popular employee health initiatives.
In addition, there is no shortage of applications for the IoT in education. Smart technologies can be used in office settings to make trainings and continued education more efficient and accessible.
3. Better communication in an organization.
At its core, the IoT is all about communication—that’s a good thing, because communication and collaboration are what make businesses work.
For example, sensors communicating data to drive insight on factory floors and IoT-infused meeting spaces can both promote operational clarity in the enterprise.
Smart technologies are adept at monitoring devices and room usage, aiding in reserving and scheduling rooms, and even managing energy consumption.
IoT-enabled team management tools like chat applications and video conferencing—many of which are accessible from today’s omnipresent mobile devices—can prevent miscommunications and increase employee productivity.
4. Inventory tracking.
Because the IoT allows communication from machine to machine (M2M), devices can now alert operators about inventory status, such as location and condition.
A sensor on a vehicle or vessel transporting products, for example, can send a notification when it is at maximum capacity, making the inventory cycle more cost-effective and streamlined.
5. Robotic machinery.
Pair the IoT with artificial intelligence (AI), and you get some serious advances when it comes to robotic machinery—put that on an enterprise scale, and we’re talking a lot more than those robot vacuums that clean your carpets while you’re at work.
Forbes reports that 56.4 percent of developers are working on building robotic apps today, and 45 percent say that the IoT is critical to their organization’s digital strategy—that’s not a coincidence.
Robotic machinery has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing, including materials tracking, equipment uptime, equipment optimization, and facility energy efficiency, just to name a few.
Off the factory floor, AI-enabled robots can soon even learn from one another and work together to solve problems.
Smart technologies have already made our lives better both at home and at work, and that’s just the tip of the IT iceberg.
To say that the connectedness of the IoT is promising for the enterprise is a gross understatement—I’ve given you five examples of that above.
Can you think of any additional ways the IoT is making running your business easier?
How do you currently utilize the IoT within your organization, and what has your experience been? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Dale Bottcher is the senior vice president, sales & marketing at AVI-SPL.
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