What IoT devices does your business need?

Unlock the potential of IoT devices for small businesses.




The Internet of Things (IoT for short) may sound like a great title for a sci-fi novel, but it's not fiction anymore, and it’s transforming our daily lives at home and work.

Forget desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. The IoT refers to a world of digital connectivity where traditionally non-smart devices or tools can interact with the internet, ‘talk’ to each other and use AI to streamline and automate activities and tasks.

Whether IoT devices are right for you can depend on several factors, but they can bring invaluable business benefits and that all-important competitive edge. So, what are some IoT devices for small businesses?



What are IoT devices?



Lighting

Smart lighting systems or bulbs aren’t just for home. Ditch the harsh glare of fluorescent lights and instead, walk into a vibrant sunrise as you enter the office. The lights can change colour and brightness to match the day’s natural rhythm, eliminating that midday slump and boosting your team's energy.

It can also help revolutionise your operation, transforming dull spaces into dynamic, productivity-powered havens. Control the mood with your voice or smartphone to create calming blues for focused work, warm ambers for brainstorming sessions, or energising greens for presentations.

As well as helping employee wellbeing, smart lighting is extremely efficient, potentially using at least 75% less energy and lasting up to 25x longer than traditional bulbs. It can also recognise unoccupied spaces and reduce the brightness or switch off entirely. That’s good news for your budget – and the planet.



Heating

Most workplaces are familiar with thermostat wars. No matter what size business you are, there’s always someone shivering under multiple layers while someone else is happy wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

Smart thermostats can help you control your climate, turning your workplace into dynamic comfort zones.

Instead of kitchen saunas or meeting room shivers, smart thermostats learn your business's rhythm, adapting temperatures based on occupancy and weather, creating a comfortable haven to boost productivity and slash energy bills.



Security

Smart security isn't just about keeping watch. It's about staying steps ahead. IoT can coordinate an array of sensors, lights, alarms and cameras to provide 24/7 automated monitoring, instant alerts, and proactive threat detection from your smartphone or tablet.

We’re familiar with cameras and doorbells that alert us to an approaching figure, but smart security can allow you to zoom in, spot your friendly delivery person and unlock a door remotely – all from the comfort of home.

And it doesn’t stop at remote access. Some AI-powered cameras can tell the difference between employees and intruders to prevent false alarms, while sensors can detect broken windows or suspicious temperature changes, potentially triggering a dramatic light show and an ear-splitting symphony for uninvited guests.



Inventory management

Instead of tedious spreadsheets and stock counts, IoT can efficiently overcome obstacles, monitor product levels, and automatically reorder items – potentially reducing storage costs while cutting time and admin. It can even keep tabs on the whole supply chain journey for a smooth, timely process that keeps your customers happy.

You can also use IoT for stock environment control. You can monitor the temperature of goods that need to be kept at a certain temperature, like flowers, food, or other perishables.

Best of all, you can analyse trends, identify best (and worst) sellers, and anticipate peaks for switched-on, data-driven decisions.

However, always make sure to do occasional audits, tech isn’t always perfect!



Track assets

If inventory management is about what you have, asset tracking focuses on who has what and how they’re using it – especially useful in sectors like construction, rentals, delivery services or even healthcare. Instead of a frantic search for a missing item, IoT can instantly pinpoint its real-time location – across offices or even continents and let you know if they’re operational.

It can also monitor how long something’s been used and predict when a service or replacement may be needed, reducing downtime and maximising lifespans. Smart sensors also act like a digital watchdog alerting you to suspicious movements or unauthorised use to prevent loss or theft.



Health and wellbeing

Wearable tech that encourages your people to move, stretch, walk or take breaks can lead to a healthier, happier workforce. Lowered stress, improved sleep, and better habits also mean fewer sick days and a lighter load on company healthcare costs. IoT can also help you identify trends in employee activity so you can tailor wellness programmes to specific needs. Just make sure it’s all with a light touch. The aim is a gentle nudge for a personal wellbeing journey, not a micromanaged task that causes your team to slow down.



How do IoT devices work?



Behind the scenes, IoT is really a simple four-step process:

Data collection

Sensors collect information like temperature, movement, and customer interactions to paint a real-time picture of your business operations.

Data transmission

This data wirelessly hops onto the internet via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or mobile networks to a secure cloud platform.

Data analysis

Powerful algorithms crunch the numbers, revealing hidden patterns you may have missed and actionable insights.

Automated actions

Your devices spring into action, adjusting settings, sending alerts, or triggering pre-programmed tasks.

Here’s an example: following a meeting, occupancy sensors turning off lights and adjusting air conditioning once the room’s empty, saving energy and costs. Or a florist’s smart soil sensors analyse moisture and trigger connected smart sprinklers to give a thirsty plant a quick drink.



Are IoT devices right for small businesses?



The answer’s generally yes because of the range of tangible business benefits they offer. The key to success is choosing the right devices and integrating them seamlessly into your existing operations.

The world of IoT devices can be overwhelming, so if you’re thinking an IoT system, here are four steps to consider:



Identify your needs

Pinpoint the areas where IoT can make a meaningful impact. Whether it's stock control, connecting with customers, or energy efficiency, a clear understanding is crucial.



Research devices and platforms

Compare features, costs, and how easy they are to use, and focus on those designed for your industry and budget.



Start small

Pilot a single IoT project to test the waters and gain experience and confidence before going bigger and bolder. Think smart lights, plugs or thermostats.



Ask an expert

You’re not alone. Use available resources and speak to experts to help you navigate the start-up, avoid tech roadblocks and stay secure.



Keep learning

IoT isn't about overnight transformations. It's a journey of exploration, adaptation, and continuous learning. The more you experiment, the more possibilities you can discover. And with new tech constantly coming out, always keep an eye out to stay ahead of the curve.



What are the potential business benefits of IoT devices?



IoT devices can offer a treasure trove of business benefits, such as:

Boost efficiency and productivity

Automate tasks like lighting and heating, stock control, and asset management, freeing up your time and resources for more strategic work.



Gain valuable insights

Track data on everything from energy consumption to foot traffic, so you can make improvements where needed.



Improve customer experience

Offer smart services like personalised recommendations, interactive information, or remote monitoring of deliveries, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.



Reduce costs

Optimise energy use, minimise equipment downtime, and prevent theft or losses.



Increase safety and security

Monitor your premises remotely with smart cameras and sensors to help prevent crime and ensure the safety of your employees and customers.



Competitive advantage

Stand out from the competition with innovative and data-driven solutions.

As the IoT ecosystem continues to evolve, businesses have the opportunity to increase their operational efficiency, boost customer satisfaction, and save money. No matter what size your business and budget are, IoT devices offer a cost-effective and scalable way to embrace the digital future.

To find out more about IoT systems and what IoT devices may be best for your business, get 1-2-1 advice from our V-Hub Digital Advisers today.

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