In recent years, Internet of Things (IoT) devices have become increasingly pervasive. with 85% of businesses thought to have implemented the technology according to a study by Aruba. There’s no question that IoT is the future and that more sectors will continue to invest in it.
But what does implementation of IoT solutions actually look like on a day-to-day basis? And what have the results been so far?
A recent Forbes Insights survey reveals that businesses are indeed benefiting from IoT adoption, from increased profits to organizational efficiency. Almost 94% of executives surveyed said IoT has helped or will help boost annual profits by at least 5% to 15%.
Let’s take a closer look at how IoT is improving specific industries and businesses.
It’s hard to sum up what IoT actually does in a few words. At its core, IoT devices make it easier to get the necessary information right away and automate processes to reduce time and labor.
Here are some ways to apply IoT in business:
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology was first used during WWII to detect both enemy and friendly aircraft. Today, RFID tech is widely used for effective inventory management across a range of industries.
Attaching RFID tags to individual items makes them trackable at all times through an RFID reader, a central system that contains information transmitted from RFID tags. In other words, businesses can now see exactly how much inventory they have and where its located, as well as get instant updates when there’s a change in status.
Not only does RFID technology increase efficiency by saving employees from traveling to manually verify inventory numbers, but the technology also helps businesses prevent theft and other losses.
We are now living in the age of data, but IoT has a huge potential to assist data analytics in ingenious ways. The biggest advantage of IoT-based data collection is the use of sensors to gather information about a physical space.
This can include everything from simply measuring the temperature of a room, as many IoT smart home devices do, to sensing audience engagement through perceived body heat. Some businesses already use this technology to track biometric data such as eye movements and heart rates.
IoT-generated data can be used to inform analytics on consumer behavior and preferences, which can in turn fuel major business decisions.
IoT is also significantly changing business processes by improving operational efficiency and producing faster results for customers.
For instance, sensors placed on inventory and delivery vehicles mean that there’s no time wasted during a scheduled delivery. These sensors tell workers precisely where they need to be and when. Plus, the sensors can also take traffic information and weather conditions into account, directing delivery workers toward the most optimal path.
Moreover, sensors placed in consumer devices can automatically alert support teams if there’s a system failure, which reduces response time and increases customer satisfaction.
It’s easy to see how IoT will completely transform and automate industries like supply chain management and logistics — but the potential impact of IoT is less obvious is other sectors. For instance, IoT plays a growing role in a range unexpected industries, like retail, healthcare, restaurants, and hospitality.
According to one study, 79% of retailers will be able to customize the store experience for individual customers by 2021, using IoT to detect when customers are in a physical store. Let’s look at some of the most popular IoT devices that are changing the retail industry and transforming in-store experiences.
Using the IoT devices listed above, retailers can offer a new level of customization and enhanced experiences (both in-store and in-app) for their customers. Smart shelves, beacons, and digital signage are all tools that have the capability to gather valuable data on customer preferences and behavior.
Rather than appealing to the masses, IoT for retail allows for highly individualized targeting that provides a streamlined experience for shoppers while driving sales and engagement for sellers.
By far the biggest use of IoT in healthcare is remote patient monitoring. The ability to immediately collect and transfer patient data to other locations (like hospitals and nursing homes) not only saves time, but also save lives.
30% of all IoT devices are used in the healthcare industry and this percentage is expected to grow significantly. Here are some examples of IoT use cases in healthcare.
Doctors and patients both benefit from remote or self-diagnosis, which saves valuable time that would otherwise be spent physically visiting a clinic location and waiting to receive the necessary health data.
Through remote monitors, doctors can gain access to vital patient information without needing to see them in person. Likewise, patients no longer have to spend time in the waiting room to be received by their doctors.
Going a step further, sensor-equipped self-diagnosis devices can accurately measure a patient’s heart rate, body temperature, and other factors to provide an on-the-spot diagnosis or health information.
For example, smart continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices track a diabetic patient’s glucose levels. An Apple Watch app was tested to monitor people with depression. Activity trackers like Fitbit or Apple Health are already commonly used by everyday consumers, increasing our ability to monitor our own health on a daily basis.
Surgery performed with the assistance of robots can be even more precise than the most highly-skilled doctor. Combining the power of IoT to identify minute details undetectable to the human eye with a doctor’s professional training and experience will yield better results.
Innovative technology like wireless capsule endoscopy (WCE) can dramatically improve traditional endoscopy procedures by equipping a capsule with a camera so that the patient can swallow the pill, which will then scan and film their internal organs. This technology can be used to detect internal bleeding that would not be diagnosable through a traditional endoscopy.
Doctors can also use virtual reality (VR) goggles to prepare for a complex procedure such as brain surgery. Sending brain scans to VR technology can produce hyper-detailed imagery for the doctor, leading to higher accuracy and efficiency in the operating room.
IoT sensors’ ability to track both patients and medical equipment can prove crucial, especially in the field of elderly care. While treating patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s, IoT devices can help put family members and care personnel at ease by ensuring that, should the patient get lost, they can track their location.
Similarly, keeping an eye on medical equipment through a tracker can ensure that valuable assets aren’t lost and remain readily available to those who need immediate access.
There’s probably no better case of digital success in the restaurant industry than global pizza chain, Domino’s. The chain dramatically increased sales by implementing a Digital Tracker that allows customers to see where they’re pizzas are and installing Voice Over IP (VoIP) phone systems.
But there are many other ways IoT can transform the restaurant industry besides tracking delivery items. Here are a few examples of IoT tools for restaurants.
All restaurants need to preserve ingredients and prevent food waste. By equipping refrigerators, ovens, and other kitchen appliances with IoT sensors, restaurants can monitor the temperature to keep food from going bad. Plus, they can reduce food waste by reviewing analytics on specific ingredients prior to ordering new items.
These same sensors can detect appliance failures and alert managers when maintenance is required. They can also save energy costs by keeping managers informed on energy consumption data for individual appliances.
Personalizing and improving the ordering process is a huge benefit of IoT for restaurants. Whether ordering through a smartphone app from home or a tablet placed at their table, customers can choose their own ingredients or re-order a previous meal with a single click.
Allowing customers to order through IoT devices saves time by removing the need to wait to get a waiter’s attention or be placed on hold during a phone call. Payment also becomes a seamless experience, as it can be processed through the same device, eliminating the need for a cashier or a separate POS terminal.
If smart home devices improve our own homes, hotel rooms can also benefit from IoT. The hospitality sector relies on customer experiences which can be dramatically improved with IoT investments.
Hotels and other accommodations can save money and become eco-friendly destinations by using IoT devices to monitor energy consumption and switch off energy-consuming devices automatically, such as the A/C or heating, lighting, and TVs.
A study by Energy Star found that American hotels spend about 6% of total operating costs on energy. IoT solutions can reduce these costs while improving guest satisfaction through preventative maintenance.
Another way to improve the guest experience is by offering personalized, IoT-connected rooms. Using tablets or phones, guests can easily control room temperature, lighting, and TV rather than struggling to figure out how the A/C works or calling the hotel staff for help.
Digital room cards sent directly to guests’ phones also removes the hassle of remembering cards and the risk of potentially losing them. It also improves safety measures, as only the guest can access their room, and adds convenience by allowing guests to skip the step of check-in at reception.
One of the most important things hotels can provide for guests is local information. Maps, guides to tourist attractions, and restaurant recommendations are all frequently sought after by visitors at local hotels.
With GPS and beacon technology, hotels can assist guests with relevant information about the area based on their real-time location — and even push notifications about deals from nearby partners. This allows hotels to improve the customer experience while strengthening relationships with local attractions and other partners.
With so many innovative use cases and interesting possibilities, IoT devices represent the infinite potential of technology to improve business operations.
Companies that want to compete and stay relevant in the evolving technological landscape should implement IoT solutions ASAP, as well as experiment with creative ways to integrate smart devices into their future strategies and experiences.
While all businesses can benefit from adopting IoT to improve operations and save costs, those that use the technology to drive customer satisfaction and engagement will be at the forefront of the digital revolution.