IoT applications across industries

Exploring the impact of IoT across diverse industries. 


The Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as a technological breakthrough on many levels, connecting devices and objects to enable seamless communication and data exchange. For SME owners and directors, understanding the applications of IoT is important in order to understand how it can transform your business.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various IoT applications, from smart agriculture and retail to wearables and security systems, providing insights that might help you get the edge on your competitors.



How IoT is relevant for small businesses 


Whether you run a cosy coffee shop or freelance from home, IoT is a real asset for improving efficiency, productivity, and, most importantly, your bottom line. 

By automating everyday tasks, IoT lets you focus on what really matters in your business. Smart thermostats and lighting not only make your workspace more comfortable, they can cut energy bills too. And just like bigger businesses, IoT can monitor stock levels, enable contactless payments, and enhance security with affordable and scalable smart surveillance systems. 

When it comes to teamwork and project management, IoT-driven tools can be really helpful. They create digital collaborative spaces where you and your team can share ideas, track project progress, and ensure you're hitting those deadlines for a smoother, more efficient workflow. 

For SMEs, IoT can also level the marketing playing field. It allows you to automate emails based on customer actions, like abandoned carts or birthday promotions, and schedule and publish social media posts in advance.  

 And don’t forget that all-important data showing your customers’ behaviours, preferences and interactions. It all helps you refine your marketing strategies, deliver personalised, targeted content and tweak how you operate for the best possible returns.    

Where is IoT mostly used? 


At the moment, IoT is mostly used in various business sectors to enhance operational efficiency, improve decision-making processes, and offer innovative solutions. Some of the primary areas where IoT is extensively employed include: 


  • Manufacturing: IoT-enabled sensors and devices optimise production processes, monitor equipment health, and ensure quality control. 

  • Logistics and supply chain: Tracking and monitoring products in real time, from manufacturing to delivery, streamline logistics operations, and reduce inefficiencies. 

  • Energy management: IoT applications in energy help ​​monitor and control consumption, leading to improved sustainability and cost savings. 

  • Smart cities: Cities including Zurich, Oslo, Canberra, Copenhagen, Lausanne and London are leveraging IoT to enhance public services, manage traffic flow, and improve overall urban living. 

What is the most common IoT application?

One of the most common and widely adopted IoT applications is in the realm of smart homes. IoT-enabled devices such as thermostats, lights, security cameras, and smart assistants have become integral parts of modern households. These devices communicate with each other, offering homeowners unprecedented control over their living spaces. For instance, smart thermostats can adjust temperatures based on occupancy, and security cameras can send alerts to homeowners' smartphones in case of unusual activities.  However, there are more and more industries that are really starting to utilise all the benefits of IoT, and we've outlined some of the most prominent ones below.

IoT in retail  

The retail industry has witnessed a revolutionary shift with the integration of IoT applications.  Instead of spending valuable time on manual stock checks, shelves equipped with sensors alert you the moment an item sells out. White goods like fridges actively monitor storage conditions and raise the alarm if something’s wrong. They can also track products nearing their expiry date, so you can reduce prices in time to attract budget-conscious shoppers and, importantly, cut down on food waste.     

Smart payment terminals help time-poor customers zip through checkout with contactless payments or mobile wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay for a faster, more hygienic experience.  

And for a real touch of customer magic, you can actually track customers’ movements which can trigger sending promotions and buying recommendations straight to their phones, thanks to RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology.  

With IoT, you get the complete picture – your best sellers (and those unloved items gathering dust) and how customers move around, pinpointing your hot (and chillier) spots. The result? Real data-driven insights that can help boost customer engagement, loyalty and sales.  

IoT-powered beacons can also communicate with customers' smartphones, alerting them to a personalised offer whenever they’re geographically close to the store, for example. This personalisation has been proven to improve customers’ overall shopping experience, their sentiment about the brand, and increase profit. Additionally, smart payment systems and checkout processes are streamlining transactions, reducing waiting times and improving customer satisfaction.



IoT in agriculture 


In the agricultural sector, IoT plays a pivotal role in optimising processes and improving crop yields.  

Sensors and GPS connectivity can turn machinery like tractors, harvesters, sprayers, and other farm equipment into tools for precision row planting, targeted fertilisation and pesticide application, and plan harvesting routes that minimise overlap and waste, and maximise yields.  

Soil sensors can collect data on moisture, nutrient levels, crop health, and environmental conditions, giving a heads-up about potential problems. In a greenhouse, environment monitoring systems can track temperature, humidity, and light, triggering irrigation or adjusting settings to ensure your fruit and veg thrive. 

Drones are now a key part of crop monitoring and management. IoT cameras and sensors can map and assess the health of every inch of a field or orchard, detect pests and disease, and apply targeted treatments to minimise water waste, protect vital pollinators, and support sustainable food production. All in a fraction of the time it would take a whole team of farmworkers.  

Livestock management has also got a tech makeover. GPS or RFID technology tells you exactly where your animals are at any time, while sensors or wearable tech collect data on their activity levels, feeding patterns, and wellbeing. Moocall’s innovative collars can even tell when a cow is ready to breed and send a text message when she’s about to calve.  


And just like in our homes, IoT can monitor and adjust temperature, humidity, and air quality to create the best possible living conditions for happy animals. 


IoT in hospitality 


The days of battling temperamental thermostats and fumbling for key cards are numbered. Thanks to IoT, hotels are evolving into more intelligent havens for that home-from-home feeling.  

Smart thermostats, lights, and connected appliances like smart speakers can learn guests' preferences – adjusting room temperatures, creating ambient lighting and playing welcoming music from personal playlists with a simple voice command.  

While lifelike robots on reception desks remain a novelty (for now), digital check-ins are reducing queues and waiting times. Wearable devices are also increasingly being used to give guests contactless access to rooms and amenities. And there’s the bonus of tracking guests’ movements for valuable insights into the most popular places and revealing the peaks and troughs to help effective staff planning.  

For bars and restaurants, like retail, smart sensors in coolers and fridges keep a vigilant eye on stock levels, so you never run out of the favourites. In the kitchen, AI-powered ovens and fryers can help ensure culinary consistency, while guests browse interactive menus, order and pay digitally. And to keep service running like clockwork, wearable tech for your staff ensures quick and easy communication so everyone’s always in the loop.



IoT in tech industries 


The tech industry is the heartland of IoT innovation, so it’s no surprise it practises what it preaches.   

In prototype testing, IoT can monitor everything from temperature to pressure to user interactions, gathering data that allows engineers to fine-tune new tech faster and more efficiently. It also enables designers to bring 3D models and prototypes to life in a shared virtual space, where teams can make changes on the go, share ideas and picture new products. 

Affordable IoT platforms and tools mean even small start-ups can now tap into the power of connected devices. This opens up exciting possibilities for disruptive innovation, letting anyone with a great idea bring it to life without needing deep pockets. 

IoT-powered factories are also becoming a reality, transforming manufacturing as robots and machines communicate to speed or automate production. IoT can also anticipate faults or flag service requirements to prevent downtime, while AI-quality control can monitor and analyse the finished product for the tiniest flaw, so customers receive nothing but the best. 


IoT applications in healthcare 


In the healthcare sector, IoT applications have the potential to revolutionise patient care and treatment. Wearable devices equipped with health monitoring sensors enable continuous tracking of vital signs and health metrics. This real-time data allows healthcare professionals to monitor patients remotely, providing timely interventions and personalised care plans.

IoT applications also extend to smart medical devices, such as insulin pumps and pacemakers, which can be remotely monitored and adjusted as needed. 


IoT applications in security 



Security is of paramount importance for businesses, and IoT applications offer innovative solutions. Smart surveillance systems equipped with IoT sensors can detect unusual activities and send real-time alerts to security personnel.

Access control systems using IoT technology provide enhanced authentication measures, ensuring only authorised individuals gain entry to secure areas. In addition, IoT-powered smart locks and alarms offer businesses advanced tools to safeguard their premises. 

Advantages and disadvantages of IoT 



While every industry has unique challenges, the hurdles in implementing IoT are quite common. A seamless integration of IoT into your business doesn't just happen. It needs thoughtful planning and precise execution. Be prepared, though – the initial setup and the technical expertise required for an IoT system can be a bit steep, especially for smaller businesses.  

In today's data-centric world, protecting customer information and securing transactions is also critical. It's not just about protecting data. It's about preserving trust. Security breaches can have serious consequences, ranging from financial hits to legal troubles, and damage your business reputation. So, it's crucial to opt for devices equipped with robust security features, such as encrypted communication and strong authentication methods.  

The key is to ask for advice if you need it. And for businesses who embrace the challenge, the rewards can be well worth it.   

Personalised experiences and contactless convenience make your customers happy and keep them coming back for more. Real-time updates on what’s in stock, with smart systems looking after your heating and lighting, help you save money and reduce waste. IoT also helps free up your time, by automating those thankless, repetitive tasks so you can look at the bigger picture, boosting efficiency. And you can access valuable data that’s gold dust for making savvy decisions that help you stay one step ahead of the competition. 

The great thing about IoT is that it’s for everyone. And with new tech and apps constantly popping up, the sky’s the limit. Whether you’re an established player in your field or just starting out, IoT opens up a world of opportunity for growth and success via a smarter, more sustainable, and connected future.

The future of IoT



The future of IoT holds immense promise, with continuous advancements in technology and its integration into various aspects of business and daily life. SMEs can expect the following trends to shape the future of IoT applications: 

  • Edge computing: Edge computing will become more common, where data processing happens on local devices or nearby servers to reduce time lag and bandwidth, and speed responses - helping to enhance real-time decision-making. 

  • 5G connectivity: The rollout of 5G networks will provide faster and more reliable connectivity, enabling a broader range of IoT applications and services. 

  • AI integration: The sheer amount of info and data IoT devices produce can be overwhelming. Artificial Intelligence acts as a powerful interpreter, linking to IoT and transforming raw information into easy-to-understand, actionable insights. 

  • Expansion in healthcare: IoT applications in healthcare will expand, with the development of more sophisticated wearable devices and remote patient monitoring solutions. 

How could you use IoT?



As IoT applications continue to evolve and proliferate, SME owners and directors have a golden opportunity to use this technology to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and stay ahead of the competition. From smart agriculture to healthcare, the huge variety in how this technology can be used means that there is probably something out there for you and your business. By embracing the current trends and preparing for the future developments in IoT, SMEs can position themselves at the forefront of innovation and secure long-term success in an increasingly connected world. 


To find out more about IoT in your industry or for 1-2-1 support on any other issues, get in touch with our V-Hub Digital Advisers.

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