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Article IoT talk: what the Internet of Things means for your small business

In tech circles, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic for what seems like forever now. In fact, unless you’ve been living under a rock with particularly bad Wi-Fi coverage, you’ve no doubt read or heard about some of the incredible possibilities IoT presents. And some of the less incredible ones too.

For the most part, IoT devices have so far fallen into two categories. There are the ‘novel but not necessary,’ where you can file your connected onesie and super-smart egg tray. And then there are the ‘neat but not quite there yet,’ home of the fully autonomous (yet currently still quite problematic) connected car.

What you might not have read about, or maybe even considered, are the ways IoT could affect your small business.

That is until now. Here are five ways the Internet of Things could change more than just your kitchen, helping you to embrace productivity, do more with your data and take your business to the next level.

1. Remote working – with an edge

It’s no secret that remote working can have big advantages for businesses of all sizes.

Recent studies have shown that more than half of employees believe working away from the office helps them become more motivated and more productive.

For a lot of workers, the abundance of cloud apps and mobile devices have made remote working a piece of cake. But this is an option limited to a certain number of job roles. If you’re a writer, sure, put your feet up and work in your pajamas. Airline pilot? You’ll probably have to come in today, please.

However, the Internet of Things may be about to change all of that. A wider range of connected devices means far more remote working options for people who would normally have to perform tasks on-site.

In fact, it’ll soon be possible to manage whole production lines or stores remotely. Which means in the future, turning up to work at all may be a completely alien concept.

We’d still like our pilots to be there in person though, please.

2. A bird’s-eye view of everything

One great thing about everything being connected is that you suddenly have god-like levels of insight into where everything is – along with what it’s doing, how much of it there is, when you’ll need more of it and so on.

This means you can wave goodbye to barcode tracking systems, and all that time spent calling your drivers to see where they are. With equipment, devices, products and vehicles all operating on the same network, everything you own – no matter what business you’re in – is right in front of you at all times.

It’ll be a bit like playing a big game of Sim City. Just don’t click earthquake mode.

3. A big boost in productivity

All technological progression starts with the aim of making things more convenient and more accessible, and the Internet of Things is no exception.

The upshot of this is that it gives us the opportunity to be more efficient and productive.

With more connected devices, and therefore more data, it’s easier for businesses of all sizes to measure and monitor the efficiency of, well, everything. And when you have that information, you’re perfectly placed to make improvements to your processes.

The only question you’ll have to ask is at what point striving for efficiency becomes counter-productive. Like a recent Amazon wearable that tracks the location of every product employees handle. The gadget is intended to guide employees but has raised concerns around workplace surveillance.

4. A new breed of customer

Today you can alter the temperature of your house from your desk at work, ask Alexa to change the ambiance of your lounge, and monitor the level of your car’s gas tank from your mobile phone.

What’s weird about this, is that it’s not even weird anymore. We’ve become accustomed to convenience. And for service providers, that’s not necessarily a piece of cake.

In short, IoT isn’t just going to change the way you work, it’s also going to change the expectations of your customers – in the same way the ubiquity of smartphones and digital services did for the millennial generation.

This means exceptional and seamless service delivery and ultimate convenience will soon become the baseline of the expectations you need to meet.

5. Your staffing needs will change

Didn’t you hear? Technology is taking all our jobs and we’ll soon be replaced by robots.

Okay, that’s not quite the case, but it’s only natural that technological growth will change the roles we need to fill in the workplace – and this is as true in small businesses as it is in huge enterprises.

Firstly, the Internet of Things may change your staffing needs; the people you do have will need to have their skills redirected.

Secondly, to make the most of your IoT investment, you’ll need to bring some technological expertise into the fold, to help you integrate new devices without disruption and make the most of the data you generate.

In big business this is already happening. Look in your local job listings and you might notice there’s been a recent rise in IoT jobs. 

What next?

Sprint offers a range of solutions to help small and growing businesses embrace the future of technology and transform their processes.

To learn more, visit