The concept known as the Internet of Things has been around for several decades, but we’re finally reaching the point at which the IoT, as it’s sometimes called, has become a reality. Everything is connected to everything, and the internet is never further away than a glance down or a small gesture across the room.
IoT Brings new Business Opportunities
But what is meant, exactly, with “the Internet of Things?” How does it factor into starting your own business? It turns out that the IoT can actually have a huge impact on new businesses, with added benefits to existing businesses, and opportunities for new business owners to start fresh with this added technology.
Here’s how to start your own business in the IoT, and what to bear in mind when incorporating the IoT into your existing business.
What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The term can be somewhat confusing at first, especially given the ambiguity of the word “things”. What constitutes a “thing?”
As technology has shown us, just about anything is an internetable thing!
Generally speaking, IoT refers to an object that you might not expect to have an internet connection, or that historically has not had a network connection.
Your computer is not an IoT device, because its main purpose is to connect to the internet. On the other hand, a driverless vehicle that can deliver a pizza is definitely an IoT device.
So is a lightbulb in your home that can be programmed to turn on via an app on your phone, or a streetlamp in your city that turns on once it senses that the natural lighting has reached a certain dimness.
IoT devices represent a sort of intelligent automation. These devices gather information and respond via sensors, and can be programmed to look at a specific set of data.
The driverless car recognizes street signs and oncoming traffic. The lightbulb awaits a specific wireless signal. The streetlamp waits until it registers just enough darkness to turn on.
All of these things happen without human intervention, but humans set the controls and conditions as to when and how they happen.
How Can the IoT Benefit Your Business?
Wouldn’t it be helpful if your products were able to explain to users when they were about to malfunction? Or what if the items you sell could report back to you how they’re used? Even better still, what if your inventory system took care of itself?
All of these are possible with the internet of things.
Some products include sensors that can explain to users when things are going wrong or might need attention. Think of a car that tells you when the tire is losing pressure, or an app that allows you to check on how much gas you have in your tank before you even start the car.
The ability of the IoT to both gauge, read, and transmit user data can be incredibly helpful in helping users get the most out of their products.
Just a few decades ago, drivers would have to eyeball the tires and complete mathematical equations to estimate fuel efficiency. Today, the internet of things allows us to simply ask the car directly.
It’s Also Chance To Continuously Improve Your Product…
Remotely connected objects and sensors can also gather information about usage, which is a fantastic way to gauge products during development.
You can see this type of technology in use whenever you check your keyword analytics or email open rate. The software is taking care of the analysis for you: all you have to do is read the final figures.
But what if your products could tell you how they’re used? What if the pedometer you sold could report back the average hours used by all customers, and what times of day are most active?
You could design an entire workout program and supplemental products or services around this data. Of course, privacy is a huge consideration, as is developing the exact technology that your product needs to report this information, but the IoT makes it possible for us to gain insight into product usage and customer needs without having to guess or ask.
Inventory is another fantastic development of the IoT. Sure, you can have a human count objects on shelves and balance the figures with the number of sales made in the past week or month.
Or you could have inventory that automatically checks itself out when it’s ordered and shipped, and supply stocks that let you know when they’re running low, or even self-reorder.
How To Incorporate the Internet of Things in Your Business
Imagine a customer comes into your brick and mortar store. They browse for a few moments, find exactly what they need, and leave with that object in their hand.
With the IoT, this isn’t necessarily a shoplifting situation. In fact, an electronic tag and sensor system can be created to allow for the item to be checked out and paid for as the customer leaves the store.
The IoT has also allowed for online businesses to automate the checkout process as well.
With certain programs, users simply need to enter a code to call up all of their shipping and payment information. With one click, they can fill their cart, add discounts, and check out.
Imagine the benefits of a shopping experience that could be completed in less time than it takes to pour a cup of coffee. With ease and convenience like that, customers will be more encouraged to shop and less likely to take their time analyzing options.
They’ll buy at the exact moment they feel the urge to do so!
Customize Your Users’ Experience
You can even customize the experience for each user. The IoT allows software to track regular purchases, or if a particular customer has hovered over a specific product repeatedly, automatically reach out to them to ask if they have questions about the product.
The IoT allows us to “get in the customer’s head” without actually speaking to them.
The capabilities of the internet of things is far reaching and potentially endless. Technology continues to develop to improve the user experience of individuals in all sorts of scenarios.
From going to the doctor to flying an airplane, the IoT can automate processes and provide us with feedback on objects from a distance.
And this can help business owners make more conversions in rapid succession, with technology that can keep inventory in order and lets customers check out without having to even look at their credit card.