Executives and market analysts from nearly every industry talk about how the IoT can revolutionize the world. Most of these conversations revolve around large corporations, even though more than 47 percent of all U.S. employees work for a small company. These organizations are vital but have limited resources. The IoT help them, too, but its implementation will look different.
Lots of industry professionals will tell you the IoT's benefits are almost endless. This may be true, but not every company can experience everything the IoT has to offer due to implementation costs. That said, even small businesses have a lot to gain from it.
What the IoT can do varies depending on resources and business type. For SMBs, you can sort these advantages into two main categories: efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Here are a few specifics within those divisions.
IoT devices can simplify and streamline many work processes to increase efficiency. Administrative tasks like scheduling are notorious time-eaters, so automating these can help businesses stay productive. Virtual assistants like Google Assistant or Alexa can handle these duties so employees can focus on more pressing concerns.
SMBs moving packaged goods need to optimize their warehouse organization to maximize efficiency. IoT devices like radio frequency identification (RFID) tags can help with that. These tiny sensors let employees find and track goods throughout the entire logistics chain.
In general, IoT devices make things more accessible. This accessibility leads to higher productivity for businesses.
The other primary advantage of IoT for SMBs is cost-effectiveness. IoT versions of standard workplace equipment often represent a substantial cost reduction over time. Even seemingly mundane gadgets like smart thermostats offer savings by reducing energy use and providing real-time monitoring tools.
A popular application of IoT in business is predictive maintenance, which allows companies to predict equipment malfunctions before they become problematic. By monitoring machines with IoT sensors, they can perform maintenance to prevent breakdowns. This practice helps companies avoid expensive repairs and equally costly downtime.
Implementing the IoT in SMBs
IoT tech can offer SMBs a lot of the same advantages as it does to larger corporations. That doesn't mean they can adopt it at the same rate or scale, though. Even though IoT can lower costs, some business owners may worry about the initial expense of buying and installing these devices.
Companies with more substantial budgets indeed have the advantage here. Still, SMBs can integrate IoT into their business without taking any significant economic risks. Through careful, thoughtful planning and implementation, they can experience its benefits.
Understanding Immediate Needs
When considering IoT adoption, small businesses need to think of what their immediate needs are. Any investment for a smaller company is time-sensitive, and this includes IoT purchases. With that in mind, small-business owners should find what areas can see the quickest turnaround with IoT.
If an SMB notices inefficiencies along their supply chain, then it should focus on relevant devices like RFID tags. Similarly, if utilities are a significant expense for a business, devices like smart lights or smart thermostats would be most helpful. The areas in most need of improvement often line up with the fastest returns on investment.
Given all the IoT's promises, it's tempting to apply it everywhere immediately. This kind of broad adoption may be possible for a multinational corporation, but not a small business. SMBs should slowly add more IoT devices as they begin to see returns from others.
More IoT devices can mean more savings, but SMBs can't afford to take on too massive an investment. A gradual approach is more economical, and will also help companies adjust to the new system. Adopting too much too soon can cause confusion and compatibility issues, which can be costly.
Ideally, a small business will grow over time. As it develops, it can add more to its IoT infrastructure, so SMBs should keep scalability in mind. Business owners should only choose IoT devices that are compatible with current ones, as well as potential future purchases.
To ensure everything is scalable, business owners can plan their long-term adoption process ahead of time. That way, they can make sure they only buy things that work on the same network. Without this consideration, businesses could waste money on incompatible equipment.
The IoT Helps Everyone
The IoT is vast, and it's always growing. This sheer variety means that any business, no matter the size, can find IoT solutions that fit their needs. Though large corporations may have an economic advantage, they're not the only companies that can benefit from IoT.
The IoT may be the future of business because it's so accessible. With proper forethought, even the smallest of companies can take advantage of it and join the industry of the future.