As smart devices like Fitbit and Google Nest Hub bring the Internet of Things into more people’s homes, the next generation of connected devices is also providing businesses with new levels of control over their operations. IoT systems are particularly valuable to small businesses, given the business optimization and cost-saving benefits they bring. These connected devices offer a way for companies big and small to increase efficiency and productivity through real-time monitoring and reporting of critical business conditions and external information.
When it comes to cost savings, it's often all about system servicing. Instead of long wait times for an on-site technician, especially during COVID, remote monitoring and troubleshooting can lower expenses and support successful maintenance. Instead of having multiple service checks and repair schedules, IoT can help businesses be proactive by continuously monitoring for issues and in turn spend fewer resources to solve problems. Even boring old software upgrades get a boost from IoT technologies -- with these kinds of systems, both employees and managers can easily push over the air updates without extra assistance instead of waiting for an on-site IT person to complete them.
Which types of devices can be managed and updated remotely? The list is long and varied, and the relevance of any given product will vary based on the nature of your business. Let’s take a coffee shop, for example. Within the venue, you might find a plethora of IoT-enabled devices:
- Bean grinder
- Drip coffeemaker
- Espresso/cappuccino machine
- Refrigerator and freezer
- Trash compactor
- POS system
- Credit card/NFC reader
- Employee check-in/check-out system
- Security system
- Digital signage (and/or digital menus)
Some of these products may run an IoT software stack that the device maker built from scratch, while others may be leveraging a commercially-available solution like FireCast M2M Edition.
Let’s dive into a more specific example. Say you own a restaurant that derives a large portion of profits from takeout and delivery orders at dinnertime, and customers tend to crave your house-made lemonade in the summer. You might configure your refrigerator to check the weight of inventory in the bin where you store the lemons, and if it drops below a certain threshold, notify you so you can order more lemons before the evening rush. In this case, the system helps streamline existing customer service models by helping you provide better service and increase loyalty.
At the end of the day, IoT devices in business environments can reduce unnecessary service visits, improve operating efficiency, and increase the likelihood that customers get the products and services they want.