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Internet of Things

IoT or “Internet of Things” is terminology commonly used in the technology/IT sector which simply refers to;

“a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.” (IOT Agenda).

So, whilst a strategic application of the IoT in business is a game changer, it can, and usually does, require both an experts involvement and expenditure in IoT friendly hardware.  You can see many examples of it at use at varying levels in both homes and businesses where it wouldn’t necessarily be thought of as IoT. Read on to learn more.

Within modern households, IoT has exploded recently, particularly with the meteoric rise of smart gadgets such as smart thermostats and heating systems like ‘Nest’ or ‘Hive’, smart health technology (think sleep monitors, smart scales) and also smart security systems like camera doorbells and locks. They have extremely clever technology which can adapt to the home it’s placed in and how the occupants use them – for example, if a room is rarely used, then the smart thermostat will (using the data it has collected from your home) make changes to the heating to turn it off in that room.

Another place you will find IoT is in modern cars; both from Infotainment systems that connect to the internet through to the safety devices which can alert the emergency services if you’re unfortunate enough to experience an accident.  In their simplest form, these are imagined as “smart keys” automatically adjusting the driver’s seat dependant on which key approaches the car.

It should be noted that almost all of these clever smart home gadgets are derivations of their larger, older, smarter, business based siblings. Smart heating for example originally evolved from Building management systems in businesses – a method for controlling and monitoring the power requirements of larger buildings.

Moving onto the types of IoT that you’ll see in and around businesses, many of these examples will already be in front of you every day.  Perhaps you won’t realise the use of IoT, or you may not realise the extent of the integration, but it’s there – and all around you…

For example, vending machines now utilise far more intelligent technology, even for simple purposes such as letting the supplier know that they are in danger of running out of certain products and therefore need to be replenished. All achieved without any interaction from a person.

An example that our Associates have recent experience with was the use of IoT in heating and energy at a multi-site leisure company; similar to the principle of smart thermostats available in houses, many companies, particularly in the leisure industry, will utilise building management systems like heating technology, lighting, ventilation, moisture measurement, Air quality, and hot spots which adapt to how busy the area is for example, and adjust the levels accordingly – simply meaning that companies are able to avoid the wastage of energy and therefore, wastage of money.

By now It is likely that you’re starting to think of other examples of the IoT that you’ve experienced or how your business or home can take advantage of this technology to either become more efficient or to save costs – Indeed, this is the intention of this article as there are so many possible uses of the IoT that it would be impossible to list them all here. So below,  let us show the 5 main benefits that you can get from a good strategic implementation of the IoT regardless of your specific business, industry or circumstances.

1).  Increased Productivity  

Put simply, using the Internet of Things drives automation – cuts out the middleman if you will.  Apart from the obvious benefits like relieving staff of dull manual tasks and reducing human error, productivity increases in other interesting ways. Studies show highly connected organisations show higher levels of creativity, thought to be due to less mundane tasks taxing the employees valuable time.

2). Increased Savings

Possibly the biggest driver for businesses wanting to implement an IoT strategy is the cost savings that become available from implementation. Exactly how your business saves money with IoT depends on the type of industry you operate in. Even if a business is not tech focused it can make cost savings from IoT, particularly if they have large premises or high numbers of staff.

3). Increased Safety

Safety and security in the workplace are two sides of the same coin and IoT can help with both.  A basic but specific example of this is security cameras linked to the internet, quickly notifying relevant staff members of any issues without security staff having to sit on the cameras 24/7 – which could also become a cost saving.

This goes further. To look after staff better in high-risk jobs, embedded sensors and wearable technology can be linked to software systems alerting supervisors immediately if there is a risk of harm or it detects any potential problems. Smart locks, video cameras, sensors and more are all great ways to improve workplace security and employee safety.

4). Improved Data Collection

Data collection is essential to ensure the success and smooth running of many businesses, especially in the retail industry. IoT can again be a huge help when it comes to this and it can actually go much further than just collecting the data.

With the right set-up, you can use IoT technology to not just collect data but also monitor and analyse it. With this, you can better predict trends and stay ahead of your competition and grow your business.

5). Increased Efficiency

Keeping your business at maximum efficiency is a constant battle and not one that every business succeeds. But by utilising IoT your business can improve its efficiency across multiple avenues.  Often whilst IoT can be used for cost saving as mentioned, by using, for example, smart thermostats, you often won’t just save your money on energy bills but can also benefit from making the work environment more comfortable.

Proper utilisation of IoT will also highlight inefficiencies within your business, particularly where there is a focus on technology  – subsequently allowing you to take action, which might not have been possible had IoT not highlighted the inefficiencies to you in the first place. This opportunity is very present in the manufacturing industry, where unplanned downtime would usually cost you thousands. However, there are many examples of businesses using a combination of IoT and machine learning to realise and predict these downtime trends, subsequently allowing you to address them.

The Verdict

It’s certainly worth having a think about how IoT can be taken advantage of for your business, if not to save costs, just for efficiency, staff well-being or to help your teams become more productive. This article was designed to help showcase the benefits that are available from IoT to help inspire business owners to consider how they might want to utilise it.

Here at Bailey & Associates, we are a group of experienced IT specialists with multiple case studies that showcase successful implementation of IoT. If you’re interested in how your business can make use of IoT or simply want to learn more about it, feel free to contact an associate.

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