Most tech announcements about IoT over the past year may have been intimidating for CEOs and CMOs without millions to spend. From Samsung’s $100 million IoT venture to Qualcomm’s $3 billion investment, it can appear that IoT technologies are out of reach for a normal-sized businesses – they’re not.
“Not only are IoT technologies fairly affordable, they’re going to change how you run your business,” said Jay Joyce, President of the Idea People. “Those who adopt this technology before their competition are going to find themselves with an overwhelming advantage.”
Why is IoT so powerful? Two reasons: increased customer interaction and valuable data collection.
Imagine this: a customer begins touring a popular science museum, when a few exhibits about space travel catch his eye. As he approaches this area, an alert pops up on his phone. It guides him from exhibit to exhibit, providing extra details and facts. As he approaches the exit of the space exhibits, another alert informs him that an IMAX show about the Mars Rover is going to begin in 30 minutes. He then buys his ticket to reserve his seat right from his phone.
Beacons. As a person enters the targeted range of a beacon, it will trigger a certain action from their device. In the example of the science museum, the user only needs to have the museum’s app installed with push notifications enabled.
Brick and mortar retailers can benefit as well. Beacons can be placed in different sections of their store to alert customers about sales or allow them to purchase products online if their size isn’t available in-store.
Over the next few years, retail and tourism-based businesses will begin to implement Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons. The best part is that they’re pretty inexpensive - beacons will cost $25 - $30, while iBeacons run at around $35. However, the main cost lies in the implementation of this technology.
Everyone knows that increased efficiency means higher profit margins, but how can IoT do that?
King’s Hawaiian, a small, family-run baking company became extremely popular due to the sweetness of their bread. They became so popular, that by 2010, they needed to expand to the east coast. Their Southern California plant was running 24/7 and shipping costs were eating into their profits, so they opened a facility in Georgia. Their goal was to find a way to run this plant from Southern California while maintaining or increasing efficiency.
They invested in IoT enabled machinery and a data infrastructure in order to collect data on the entire bread-making process. Engineers and managers could remotely monitor the system’s performance to ensure that their product was made at the highest quality each step of the way. Their engineers were also able to access machine’s data to determine whether it needed maintenance or a slight adjustment.
This streamlined their process. Because of their newfound efficiency, the new King’s Hawaiian IoT facility doubled production. Their Southern California facility was able to produce 90,000 lbs. of bread each day, while the facility in Georgia made 180,000 lbs.
Of course upgrading machinery and implementing a new data system is expensive. But, King’s Hawaiian needed to expand anyway. They were going to spend a large amount of money on new machinery anyway. So, they made the extra investment by setting up the data infrastructure and upgrading to IoT enabled machinery. It paid off.
As a small to regular sized business, you don’t have millions of dollars to invest like Samsung, Qualcomm and the rest of the tech giants. It is costly to overhaul your entire system and implement new technology out of the blue. The best course of action is to implement IoT when you’re making a transition.
If you’re planning on creating or updating your business’ app, it is strongly recommended that beacon functionality is added to the project. When the app is designed and coded with beacon functionality in mind, users will be given a satisfying and seamless experience. Or, like King’s Hawaiian, if you’re expanding manufacturing operations, spend a little extra to implement IoT.
“Don’t wait too long to invest in IoT technology,” said Joyce. “Gaining an advantage on the competition this early in the game absolutely outweighs the extra cost.”