The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term used to describe all of the devices that connect to the internet. Although you may have read news stories about WiFi-enabled refrigerators, IoT has a lot more value to offer businesses. IoT devices include sensors, smartphones, smart home products, and wearable technology. The connection to the internet allows these devices to be controlled remotely and for sensors to report back data that can help businesses make better decisions. Manufacturing companies are using smart sensors to reduce waste on production lines and become more efficient. IoT devices and sensors are becoming more affordable to consumers and small businesses. Let’s examine a few ways IoT can help your business:
Improve Physical Security and Environment
Small businesses can improve access to their offices through “smart locks,” which make it easy to create or revoke employee access and log who has entered the premises. Affordable WiFi cameras with Cloud-based storage provide another layer of security for your offices and employees. Businesses can save on energy costs with smart thermostats. These devices can be programmed with an automatic schedule that reduces usage when employees are not in the office. One of the more popular smart thermostats, Nest, found customers saved an average of 10-15% on heating and cooling each year. Smart lighting, which often uses LED bulbs, can help businesses save on energy costs compared to incandescent, fluorescent, and compact fluorescent bulbs. However, smart light bulbs have higher upfront costs than regular LED bulbs, so carefully consider the payback period when choosing lighting solutions. Other environmental sensors can be used to detect hazards like water leaks or unusual heat changes.
Did you know Siri and Alexa are considered IoT? They can act as inexpensive, virtual assistants to help you handle research, take notes, and control other IoT devices.
Track and Manage Inventory
RFID tags are helping businesses track inventory more efficiently. They can even help companies to reduce losses by using perishable inventory before its expiration date.
Point of Sale Solutions
IoT is enabling lower cost POS systems like the ubiquitous Square credit card reader. These small devices plug into your employees’ smartphones and allow them to securely process credit card sales from the sales floor and offsite events, all within sight of the customer. This means fewer lost or forgotten credit cards for your customers too.
Things to Consider / Cautions
- Security. In 2014, and again in 2018, LIFX smart light bulbs were hacked to retrieve information about the WiFi networks. Both of the vulnerabilities that were exploited have been fixed in later versions, but it highlights the need for security when adopting IoT solutions. Be sure to change the default passwords on any IoT devices you use at home and in the office. And, more importantly, make sure your IT Department or IT Provider is involved with all decisions to utilize IoT Devices on your network.
- Standardization. Not all IoT devices use the same standards for communicating with the internet and each other, so disparate systems may not work well together out-of-the-box.
- Too Much Data. IoT devices can collect a lot of data, not all of which is necessary for your operations. Not all collected data needs to be stored indefinitely. Determine what data you need and how long you should save it. Also, be sure you know where your data is being stored. In some instances the manufacturer of the IoT device has default settings that store your data in their cloud service or guide you to setup an account that stores your data.
arielMIS is a Managed Service Provider (MSP) providing businessCARE™ IT services designed to keep you and your employees productive and safe. Contact Us if you're interested in learning more about our services.