t’s easy to understand how an entrepreneur working on a start-up in certain sectors would be well-advised to pay attention to the evolving Internet of Things. After all, particular industries have been at the forefront of increasingly excited discussions about the possibilities of the IoT, from utilities, to organisations involved in the development of smart cities, to transport firms.
But the truth is that the IoT touches – or will touch – almost every type of organisation, no matter what its scope, scale or sector. Entrepreneurs who consider the impact of the IoT from the start will be those who are best-placed to harness its benefits and think creatively about how it could be useful for them.
Here are just some of the benefits that the IoT can drive for entrepreneurs across a wide range of contexts.
Visibility across the fulfilment process
For retailers, both B2C and B2B, the IoT can enable businesses to track orders throughout the entire process from order placement to delivery. All it takes is a simple location sensor on the goods. In turn, this opens up possibilities for far more open and transparent customer communications, and better intelligence on the efficiency of logistics.
Intelligent inventory management
Currently, supply chains tend to be managed through barcode tracking. It’s an established technology and it works – but it also means that different goods and groups of products are managed separately from each other. The IoT can bring all of an organisation’s devices and products onto the same network, meaning that inventory can be tracked holistically and in real-time.
Proactive hardware maintenance
For any business with valuable hardware to look after, the IoT offers fantastic opportunities in terms of monitoring and managing that hardware. A few simple sensors to measure key indicators of equipment health, and businesses can move from a maintenance programme reliant on engineers making regular trips around the premises and spotting issues, to a proactive and automated strategy of being alerted by the sensors when something needs looking at.
Automatic product feedback
Connected products offer businesses unparalleled possibilities for gathering intelligence on how their products are being deployed and how they are performing – en masse. For any entrepreneur whose business makes tangible products, this is an extraordinary opportunity for moving to a more proactive and agile means of product developing. Improvements and enhancements can be made to products on the basis of hard data as to how they are performing. No more reliance on those customers who actually get in touch with the manufacturer or vendor – gold-dust data is there for the taking.
Efficiency and organisation
The IoT has myriad applications inside offices, factories and other business premises. From smart thermostats and lights which can drive greater energy efficiency, to automatic service reminders and low-supply alerts, the IoT can remove the need for numerous manual checks and interventions, and drive even the smallest businesses towards greater automation and efficiency.
Individual health and wellness
An oft-neglected but absolutely critical element of effectiveness as an entrepreneur is self-health. Here, the IoT has numerous possibilities, from wearables for fitness tracking to apps helping to enable a better night’s sleep. After all those ways of harnessing the IoT in the office, many a savvy entrepreneur will also think about how the IoT can help them at home.