Read the Leverage the Internet to Own Your Operations guide to learn more about how the benefits the Internet of Things offers can help transform your business operations.
“IoT, as I define it, is technology that allows us to integrate status and commands across devices so that we can monitor and control them better,” says George Westerman, principal research scientist at the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and faculty director of the self-directed online course Internet of Things: Business Implications and Opportunities. “IoT allows sensors and other devices to talk to each other in a connected way that they could never do before. Its main value, at least for the first stages, is going to be in operations.” Where in a given operation, might IoT bring benefits?
- Keeping equipment online. On a small business scale, this will eventually mean something like allowing the owner of a local independent grocer to monitor each refrigerator and ensure that they’re consistently operating at the right temperature. And when something goes wrong, the data collected will reveal not only the problem, but the whole sequence of changes that led to it. This makes it possible not only to address the immediate problem, but to make adjustments that prevent it from happening again.
- Transparency for predictive fixes. For a small manufacturer, it could mean addressing operational issues in the production line. “How could they be better if you knew what was happening each step of the way and knew about it faster?” Westerman asks. “You could step in and fix things before they broke,” he says. “The IoT is bringing us close to being able to do that.
- Bringing greater intelligence to the operation. IoT developments are unfolding in tandem with the evolution of artificial intelligence and machine learning. As machines gain capacity to receive instructions and make decisions based on those directions, they will become capable of, for example, improving operational efficiency. Feller cites examples of “small organizations with just a couple of machines” that could benefit: “a printing operation in an office, a laundry, a small-production manufacturing operation, or a craft beer brewery. Whatever somebody is doing with machines, those machines can be enabled, even if they’re older machines, which are now being adapted with new control systems, new intelligence systems, and new connectivity.” That artificial intelligence in your equipment makes you more intelligent—more informed and more prepared to access and act on data and knowledge—as a business owner.
The bottom line is this: IoT is going to change the whole landscape of small business. Suddenly, the tools that were reserved for the big multinational companies, like machine intelligence, are going to be available at very low cost at the micro level.
IoT has the power to transform your business, helping you identify problems before they occur.
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