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The basics of IoT for small businesses

Have you heard of the term “Internet of Things” and wondered what everyone was going on about? If this is you, then you are in the right place. We are going to look at what is the Internet of Things (IoT) and how can a small business owner use it to streamline their business and become more efficient. You may even be participating in the world of IoT without being aware of it.

What is the Internet of Things?

According to Oracle, the Internet of Things is a network of physical objects that has sensors, software and other technologies in them. These objects are connected and exchange data with other objects on the network. Through these exchanges, different processes or information is shared which then can be acted upon.

We can view these physical objects as three types, namely:

Objects which collect and send information

These can be sensors that keep tabs on the environmental conditions in an area and send this to a hub where the information is used to make business decisions.

Objects which receive and act

These objects take the information from collect-and-send objects and processes it through analytical or monitoring software. This then gives a responsible human information to use to make decisions.

Objects which collect, send, receive, and act

These objects often act autonomously and change the systems according to the information that was collected. They limit the amount of human intervention needed.

What are the benefits of IoT?

IoT can benefit small businesses in several ways. Let’s look at four benefits of IoT.

1. Cut costs

Sensors can be put in different parts of your business, and they can control the temperature and light usage in these different areas. This in turn will lower your energy bill. They can also be used to determine how various areas of your business are used and where you can make cut back in office space if there is not a lot of usage being made there.

2. Keep track of assets

You can put sensors in your vehicles or other important assets to see where they are and if they are being used in a detrimental way.

3. Tracking time

General admin like tracking when your staff clock in and out of work can be tracked with smart locks or other sensors which can calculate how much time is spent working or surfing the internet.

4. Securing your office

If you choose to use smart locks in your business, you can change the passcodes for the access points in your office remotely. If there is an emergency, you can lock or open the doors from your device.

What are the drawbacks of IoT?

 As we see above IoT can help your business to become more efficient and help you have preventative measures in place to curb the losses in your business, but there are two drawbacks.

1. You might be open to cyber-attacks

Because the physical objects are linked via the Internet, you can be exposed to cyber-attacks. With this in mind, it is important to use a company that understands how to prevent potential attacks on your network.

2. The costs could be high

As IoT becomes more popular the cost of objects has become less but the outlay of initial cash to get the systems in place may be high. Therefore, you must look at what IoT objects you want to invest in and make sure you can scale your network. You should also consider investing in IoT one piece at a time. Look for the solution which will give you the best return on value with the smallest cash expense. And as you make money back, you can re-invest to build more of your network.

By reading through this article, you will have the basics of IoT and may see you are already part of IoT without even investing any money.

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