Is IoT relevant to your small business?

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04 Apr 2024

Is IoT relevant to your small business?

Whether you think of yourself as being a technology business or not, the odds are technology is part of almost every aspect of business today. It is likely you can easily think of numerous ways it has brought efficiencies and convenience to your working life.

But if you know this is true, then you should also ask yourself. Are there tools you’re not yet using that could prove equally valuable? If so, what are they? One might be the Internet of Things (IoT), a catch-all term for a set of technologies that has the capacity to revolutionise how businesses operate, big and small alike.

But what exactly is IoT? More importantly, if you’re a small to medium Irish business what can it do for you?

Understanding IoT

At its simplest, the Internet of Things refers to the growing network of devices connected to the internet, sharing and collecting data. This isn't limited to just smartphones and computers; it includes everything from smart thermostats and wearable fitness trackers to automated manufacturing equipment.

These devices gather and exchange data. Making them smarter and more responsive. Ultimately creating a more interconnected and efficient world. IoT's reach extends far beyond the confines of tech-centric discussions, permeating everyday life in ways that are often invisible yet impactful.

Take the examples of digital bus stops in Dublin providing real-time schedule updates to IoT-connected electric vehicle charging points nationwide. IoT technology is enhancing the way we live and interact with our environment. In the business realm, small businesses stand to gain significantly from IoT's capabilities.

For instance, initiatives to lower energy costs for SMEs through IoT-enabled monitoring of electricity consumption exemplifies how technology can drive sustainability while cutting operational costs. This not only aids in managing resources more efficiently. But it also promotes behavioural changes that contribute to energy conservation. There are also applications that extend beyond delivering commercial benefits. Such as contributing to societal welfare and safety. Innovations like smart life buoys monitored across Irish waters and smart disability parking spots in Limerick highlight IoT’s potential to make a real difference in community services and emergency responses.

What can IoT do for you?

For small business owners, making use of IoT means streamlining operations, enhancing your customer experiences and opening up new opportunities for growth. Here are a few ways you can do this.

IoT devices can monitor and manage various aspects of your business operations. From inventory tracking to energy consumption. These devices can generate real-time data that can help you make more informed decisions, reduce waste and save on costs.

IoT can enable businesses to offer personalised experiences to their customers. From retail shops, for example. Using beacon technology to send special offers to customers’ smartphones, to service providers optimising appointments and deliveries based on real-time traffic data. IoT can help small businesses stand out by offering unmatched convenience and personalization.

For businesses that rely on machinery or equipment, IoT can also predict when a piece of equipment is likely to fail or need maintenance. Minimizing downtime and saving on costly emergency repairs.

IoT devices provide data that can offer insights into customer behaviour, operational efficiency, and market trends. Small businesses can leverage this data to make strategic decisions. Identify new opportunities, and optimise their offerings.

Do you need to be tech-savvy to make use of IoT?

It would be easy to assume that IoT solutions might only be for those businesses with deep pockets or extensive technical knowledge. However, many IoT solutions are designed with user-friendliness in mind. Offering plug-and-play functionality and intuitive dashboards that require minimal technical expertise.

Moreover, the cost of IoT technology has been steadily decreasing. Making it accessible to businesses of all sizes.

The future is connected

The beauty of IoT lies in its scalability and applicability across different sectors. Making it a potentially serious asset for small businesses looking to innovate and compete. As 5G network connectivity continues to improve. The potential for transformative change in how cities and businesses operate is immense.

From enhancing public services to enabling sustainable urban development. IoT is at the heart of the future we're building. It's not just about staying ahead of the technology curve; it's about embracing tools that can make your business more efficient, responsive, and competitive. The question is no longer if IoT is relevant to small businesses. But rather how quickly you can harness its potential to drive your business forward?

If you need help with applying IoT to your own operations, or any other aspect of your business, get 1-2-1 support by speaking to one of our V-Hub Digital Advisors.

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