When you think about Internet of Things, you might think about cool gadgets you can buy for your home. However, businesses can also benefit greatly from connected, “smart” technologies that provide, collect and analyze data and allow them to run their business more strategically and efficiently.

 

A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) analysis projects that there will be 25 billion connected devices in use by 2020, and that business adoption of IoT will be leading the growth. “IoT enables new business models and provides a range of opportunities from improved services to increased efficiency to enhanced revenues,” BCG writes.

But, as with any technology, it’s important to evaluate which IoT devices will provide the most value to your business while paying for themselves. Here are just five IoT technologies worth considering:

 

Voice assistants

 

“Alexa, join my meeting.” A voice-activated assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa for Business or Google Assistant can be synced with your electronic calendar, email and purchasing accounts and allow you to command it to organize and dial into meetings with your employees, schedule appointments, reorder supplies, keep track of to-do lists and access other business applications—among many other functions.

 

RFID tags

 

Retailers have traditionally had to manually track and monitor their inventory, which inevitably led to items becoming lost or unaccounted for. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags can now be placed on items that allow retailers to track and collect data on their inventory all the way from the manufacturer to the customer. Not only does this help prevent losses, but it provides data (such as how long merchandise sits on the shelf) and can be tailored for the needs of the business. An apparel retailer, for example, can let smart tags be scanned by someone’s smartphone in order to find out more about the product. A restaurant can use RFID labels to keep track of when foods expire and need to be reordered and thrown away.

 

Smart locks and doorbells

 

Businesses with physical locations that need to be locked at night or throughout the day can install a smart lock, such as August or Nest, that can be controlled via a smartphone app and automatically unlock when you arrive and lock when you leave. It can also provide access codes to particular employees. A smart doorbell can also let you monitor, via video streaming to your smartphone, what’s happening outside your business and see who rings the doorbell.

 

Smart lights and thermostats

 

Whether you run a hair salon or a manufacturing firm, you need light and temperature control. Smart lights, such as the Philips Hue lighting system, use LED light bulbs that let you adjust their brightness, color and warmth via a smartphone app. A smart thermostat, such as Nest, learns your usage patterns and will automatically adjust the heating or cooling of your facility to reduce your energy usage. Data from Nest shows it can save 10% to 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.

 

Fleet sensors

 

If your business relies heavily on driving cars or trucks, some fleet management IoT tools can help you reduce gas mileage and provide real-time tracking of delivery or service provider arrival times to your customers. While there are many companies offering fleet management technologies, Samsara and SyncUP FLEET from T-Mobile are two you might want to check out.

The price of IoT technologies is dropping as their capabilities continue to expand. It’s worth looking at how IoT can help your business save money and operate more efficiently and strategically.

 

Call to action:

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