Three key enterprise IoT opportunities for business

We all know about the security risks associated with unchecked IoT, but business owners should be aware of the potential benefits for themselves and their customers


Business owners everywhere are being bombarded by claims that the IoT is presenting a myriad of market opportunities ripe for commercial exploitation. Everyone knows the security risks that IoT poses to businesses if left unchecked, but many entrepreneurs have little to no idea where to begin when it comes to locating and tapping into the opportunities. This is likely due to the fact that many business owners have outsourced any and all IoT-related work to their IT specialists, which is a terrible mistake given that leaders need to become intimately familiar with the IoT themselves if they are to profit from its continuous growth.

McKinsey estimates that the IoT will bring a minimum of $410bn to retail environments by 2025, but it is not only retailers who can benefit. Here are three key enterprise IoT opportunities for business which are worthy of your consideration.

Connect your assets

The first and most obvious IoT opportunity that most businesses face is the opportunity to connect your assets in order to exert greater control over your operations than ever before. Many business owners have grown tired of hearing endlessly about the IoT without ever really understanding what it is; the term "internet of things" is quite apt because it succeeds at elucidating how the IoT is fundamentally about connecting a myriad of small devices so that they form one massive web of useful gadgets. Connecting the assets around your office will not only make your company seem forward-thinking but will also go to great lengths to help you cut down on the everyday costs of doing business.

When it comes to monitoring your energy usage so that you can cut down on your office power bill, for instance, embracing the IoT is immensely helpful and can result in huge savings for your company. Smart factories can create real-time analyses of energy usage and monitor symptoms of motor performance; thread manufacturer Service Thread estimates that their IoT solutions reduce the operating cost of each spindle by 50%.

This strategy can doubtlessly be applied to your business; have you considered something as simple as a smart thermostat, which can help you better monitor your office's energy consumption when it comes to your HVAC system? Motion-sensitive bulbs and other cutting-edge innovations can also go to great lengths to lessen the overall amount of energy your business needs to keep churning forward. Keep this IoT opportunity in mind if you are sick and tired of grappling with steep energy bills every month.

Bolster the consumer experience

If you have not mulled the way that the IoT can help you bolster the consumer experience, you are allowing a fantastic opportunity to go to waste while enabling your competitors to gain a leg up on your business. Of all IoT devices,  8% are used in retail, and for good reason; customers want personalized shopping experiences.

If you understand the ways that the IoT is revolutionizing the consumer experience in retail, you will come to realize that you, too, can offer a more personalized and streamlined service to customers by digitizing your operations and collecting data on them in a non-invasive fashion. Being able to accurately predict what kind of products or services consumers are looking for will render customers and clients more likely to return to your company in the future. Innovations like the real-time tracking of your inventory will help you cut logistical costs while ensuring you don not suffer from a critical shortage when business is booming.

One of the key ways IoT can directly benefit retailers is through beacon technology, which can offer personalized deals to consumers who pass by to one of the retailer's stores. According to Swirl Networks Inc., 70% of customers reported that content sent by these beacons increased their likelihood to make a purchase in store. Once customers reach the store, barcode scanning apps can theoretically provide shoppers with mobile access to information about alternative colours, sizes or versions of products that are available but temporarily out of stock, for example.

Elsewhere, automated checkouts not only incentivize rushed consumers to use your stores, but are already well under way to reducing cashier staff – and therefore costs – by up to 75%, according to predictions made by McKinsey.

It is important to understand that the changes you make cannot simply be superficial; embracing the IoT must be done with full gusto if it is to have a positive effect on your business. Do not think that you can throw IoT jargon around in your marketing campaign and successfully lure in consumers – to really bolster the experience of your average customer, you need to invest properly in personalizing their shopping experience.

Revolutionize your logistics chain

Perhaps the finest aspect of the IoT for the average business is that it enables them to revolutionize their logistics and supply chain, which can go a long way towards saving you money. Furthermore, a smooth and transparent supply chain will help convince customers that your business is worth revisiting, as everyday shoppers love to be reminded that their products are en route or that their order has been received and is being handled.

Digital inventory tracking also helps to reduce inventory loss and human error while providing real-time stock updates. Drones and robotics are also a solution, as Amazon has shown with its warehouse robots that are capable of picking and packing online orders in a safe and efficient manner. Amid employee job concerns, Matt Yearling of yard management system provider PINC argues that drones are not necessarily used to replace people, but to drive employee retention by making the picking and packing process more engaging for retrained employees.

You should embrace smart location management systems which enable your business to keep track of arriving deliveries, vehicles in transit and the overall status of your customer's delivery. Furthermore, adding small, inexpensive sensors to your warehouse can help you keep track of valuable cargo and expensive equipment which may otherwise go missing. Take this route and soon you will realize that one of the key IoT opportunities most businesses are ignoring is the ability to master the logistical process.

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