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The success of IoT, or the Internet of Things, began with personal devices. But to pigeonhole phones, tablets, and watches is to lose out on the power they can bring to your business. As your company’s digital landscape expands, consider how much IoT matters—and what it can bring to the table.
In June, I wrote about how we should think beyond smart phones regarding the IoT. Smart devices—not just telephones—make businesses more adaptable and create an easier transition for businesses already embracing the digital revolution.
Harness the Power of IoT
Internet of Things was coined to describe the evolution of electronics that send and receive data amongst devices. That seems pretty broad, but IoT is special because it doesn’t require any human-to-computer action in order to function. The device gathers its information independently and from there can cause another linked device to take action. A smart watch, for example, could remotely start your coffee pot in the morning when it detects your movement and change in heart rate.
A smart watch can start your coffee pot, but what can it do for your business? A lot, it seems. Consider these five ways the IoT is driving digital transformation:
- IoT gathers massive amount of data. This data is being used to shape business strategies across all industries. Using reporting tools, these gadgets build patterns and statistics for just about everything. Some of this information is unlike anything we’ve seen before, and it gives entirely new insight into customers’ habits and buying patterns. For example, a retailer can track a customer’s path and time spent in sections of a store using a smart device. The device can then provide the data for reports to help fine-tune product placement. If the information shows people skip over products on the ends of aisles, then companies can get a better idea of how to arrange their goods. And that’s just one of infinite potential uses.
- Rapid deployment of decisions. Quick decision-making means increased productivity, which is good for any business’s bottom line. Advancements are opening doors for such instant decisions. Each action that IoT devices perform shaves seconds or even minutes from work time. Imagine something similar to how a smart home runs—it’s efficient and self-regulating. No one needs to spend time making decisions about what temperature it should be at 7 a.m.; once a temperature has been decided, each morning the thermostat adjusts. Imagine your entire office adjusting in such a way—decision-making is streamlined and your processes run smoother.
- Predictive maintenance and advanced diagnostics. New technologies are more than just simpler alternatives. They’re also much more dependable. These advanced products are inherently more resistant to malfunction. In addition, many of these smart devices can send alerts when they detect problems. Choosing to upgrade technologies means fewer issues and repairs. When things do go wrong, IoT devices make finding a solution easier. With their built-in diagnostics, there’s less time spent searching for answers. This is more than time saved—it’s also less energy wasted on processes that have little to do with running your business.
- AI and robots make for ultimate efficiency. It’s simple—using technology leaves little room for human error. Artificial intelligence and robots have been making strides in industries for decades—think driverless cars and automated checkouts—and I’m seeing signs that those are our humble beginnings. AI is constantly becoming more efficient and capable. Manufacturing is the most obvious industry that comes to mind when considering AI, but don’t stop your imagination there. Almost any field can be improved by artificial intelligence and automation—and smart devices are the first step when a business wants to dips its toes in the virtual water.
- Improved company culture and employee engagement. The final way that IoT technologies are driving change is through employees and how they interact with their colleagues. Allowing employees to use their own devices for company purposes provides greater integration of personal and work life. Strong BYOD polices drive company culture; when a device isn’t solely for work, it will likely be next to a person more often than if it was solely a company device.
Consider how products like wearable health trackers could transform company culture and increase engagement. A healthier employee, such as one who tracks exercise routines with wearable tech, will be less likely to take days off and will accrue fewer health care costs—making whatever incentive you give for such a program well worth it.
Start with What You Have
In 2016, it’s estimated there will be 6.4 billion IoT devices in use across the world. That’s an impressive number and nearly matches the population of the world (around seven billion). What’s even more astounding and exciting, however, is the prediction for 2020. Experts anticipate 20.8 billion IoT devices by this time, which will impact every aspect of our lives, including both personal and business pursuits.
For businesses that have been on the fence about fully embracing the digital transformation, see how you can start with the devices employees already have in their pockets. Start there, and expect your business to thrive due to its embrace of the digital transformation.