When people talk about the “internet of things,” they are basically talking about smart devices. As these grow to become more and more ubiquitous, it is no surprise that certain aspects of life are being changed. Small business is no exception to this trend, although the changes are coming more slowly. This is due to the fact that small businesses usually cannot afford the latest tech. However, this trend is beginning to change as smart devices get cheaper. So, let’s look at a few of the ways in which the internet of things is transforming small businesses.
1. Even More Data Than Ever Before
When people first started using computers for everyday things, everyone said that we were entering an “information age.” Those people were probably more correct than they knew at the time. As everything becomes digital, vast amounts of data are generated, and a lot of it is stored over the long haul.
When every device is a smart device, every device can give feedback to a central hub. Obviously, this creates some serious privacy concerns that our leaders don’t seem to be addressing. For small businesses, however, it means that they can have the kind of tracking capabilities that are usually reserved for larger companies.
2. Managed Inventory Tracking
A lot of small companies don’t have precise procedures for inventory tracking and management. This is simply because they don’t have a whole lot of inventory in the first place. However, with the use of IoT devices, any business owner can afford to have a computerized inventory management system. This reduces theft and waste, both by catching the offenders and by creating a deterrent. When someone knows that you track your inventory, they will be less likely to try that kind of thing.
Tracking your inventory could be as simple as putting a small tracking device in each box. It could also be combined with hidden cameras (also cheaper than ever) and other covert surveillance. Not only will this reduce theft and waste, but it will also free up your employees for other tasks. Manual inventory takes a long time, and constitutes one of the most time-consuming tasks for any retail manager.
3. More Things Can Be Done Remotely
Most companies will have at least a few people that work from home. However, these people have traditionally been the exceptions rather than the norm. There have always been certain things that you just can’t do remotely. Through the use of IoT devices, that list is getting a lot shorter by the day.
For instance, it is now possible to hold an entire meeting without being physically present. You can control all aspects of the presentation from the lighting to the display screen from home. Obviously, there will always be a need for physical work, but the internet of things can definitely save you some travel time at the very least.
4. Greater Accountability
A smart device can be used to track many things, including whether or not your employees are doing a good job. Everybody has had to deal with a lazy co-worker at least once, to say nothing of a toxic co-worker. In the past, all these people had to do was act nice when the boss was around. When things are being tracked with smart devices, it is far easier to see what they do when you aren’t there.
We should mention the privacy concerns that obviously go along with all this, and we would implore you to be respectful of others and respect all privacy laws. Everyone has a right to keep their personal business private, but the things they do while representing your company are indeed your business, both figuratively and literally.
5. Better Security In General
The same things that allow smart devices to catch problematic employees can also be used to catch thieves, hackers, and other types of criminals. All criminals know that they have to work around surveillance devices, and every IoT device can be used as one. This can only result in tighter security for all involved. When there are fewer blind spots in your security, it will be far more difficult for malicious actors to find an entry point.
Of course, there is one little thing to consider: The possibility that the IoT devices themselves could be hacked. If this happens (and it already has, in some cases, happened), all the advantages of that IoT system could be turned against the user. Just as you use its data collection ability to protect yourself, they can use it to trick you in all sorts of ways.
There is no doubt that this technology will continue to be used, whether openly or surreptitiously. Something this useful is not going to sit idle, so there is no sense in bemoaning its existence. Instead, the smart move is to learn about this technology and figure out how you can use it to your advantage. We do advise you to consider the ethical issues carefully but don’t try to fight the future, as that will always be a losing battle. If you agree, you can show it by filling out the contact form.