Okay, marketers and technology enthusiasts have been talking about the coming of the Internet of Things (IoT) for years. But with products like Google Home and Amazon Echo emerging and gaining popularity, it’s reasonable to suspect that 2017 is the year that IoT finally starts taking off.
Even though original estimates held that we’d see 50 billion “connected” devices by 2020, revised estimates are still targeting nearly 30 billion, representing an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the near future.
So here’s the question—is your business ready for the IoT? Even if you don’t deal directly with technology, IoT devices are going to have a massive impact on how you do business.
1. Data, Data, Data
Marketers and entrepreneurs love data, and with IoT devices connecting consumers in new ways with more interactions, they’ll have greater access to that data than ever before. Smart devices will be able to track and record patterns of consumer behavior, and possibly even learn from them, making intelligent product recommendations and customizing searches in new, innovative ways.
Companies can start taking advantage of this by using these data-based insights to come up with more effective advertising, and get to know their target demographics on a more specific, qualitative level. Chances are, you’ll have more data at every stage of the consumer buying cycle, from research to purchase and implementation.
2. Inventory Tracking and Management
Next up, IoT will likely revolutionize how companies track and manage their inventory. If you’re a business that relies on warehousing, manufacturing, or storage, you probably use remote scanners and similarly high-tech devices to help your workers keep track of inventory item by item. In the near future, smart devices should be able to keep tabs on inventory changes completely automatically, freeing up your workers for more important, cognitively demanding tasks. It’s not just about the “smart home” anymore—it’s also about the “smart office” and “smart warehouse.”
3. Remote Work
On the other hand, if your business doesn’t directly deal with any physical inventory, the IoT could open up a world of new possibilities for remote work. With multiple devices all wired into the same network, your remote working employees will be more connected than ever before, and may be able to accomplish new types of tasks from remote locations by tapping into devices in your office or factory floor. Remote workers tend to be happier and more productive, so the arrangement could also help improve your bottom line.
4. Speed and Accessibility
Since consumers will have access to new forms of research and purchasing, the buying cycle will likely diminish in length. Consumers will, with a handful of spoken phrases, be able to find and order exactly the product they’re looking for, and they’ll demand delivery of the product sooner (since all our technological advances tend to emphasize instant gratification). Fortunately, your partners, suppliers, and logistics providers will all have similarly advanced technology at their disposal, meaning you’ll be able to serve your customers faster.
5. Efficiency and Productivity
It’s not all about speed—you’ll also be able to get more done in less time. In addition to instant gratification, technological evolution also tends to favor productivity and efficiency. The latest and greatest IoT developments will likely allow you and your workers to accomplish large-scale tasks faster and with greater precision, including data analysis and management. You may find that you need fewer staff members, or else you’ll be able to scale operations in new areas that allow you to expand your business.