Entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes can benefit from integrating connected technologies into their daily activities
A man using laptop with IoT, Internet of Things conceptual sign, Internet era, Internet in everyday lives. Photo: CCCatcha.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)? And why, as an entrepreneur, should you be using it to grow your business?
IoT technology can turn physical objects of all kinds into Internet-enabled devices equipped with software, sensors and connectivity. Such smart, connected devices can help Canadian businesses increase efficiency, agility and scalability with automation and data. Here is how your business can integrate AI to stand out from the crowd and increase profitability.
Voice and AI
Whether through personal assistants (like Alexa or Google Home), audiobooks, podcasts or automatic transcription, voice is changing the ways consumers interact with businesses. Have you ever reached someone’s voicemail and instead of hearing their voice, you speak to Alexa or Google Home to leave a message? What about scheduling a meeting by calling out to your favourite personal assistant or using dictation software to reply to draft emails and respond to messages?
Voice technology can change the way we work entirely. Edmonton-based voice and AI company Hendrix, for example, offers an AI-based software that transcribes, summarizes, organizes and recalls meeting action notes for busy professionals who can more profitably spend their time on other tasks; Hendrix essentially provides users with an AI personal assistant. These kinds of technological advancements are changing the business landscape, increasing productivity and connecting entrepreneurs to their customers like never before.
“Small businesses have limited resources; anything that makes them more productive, provides insights and reduces costs is going to be a huge benefit in competing with bigger businesses,” says Robin Mascarenhas, IoT Partner and Solutions at Rogers.
IoT and advertising
IoT advertising connects and recognizes customers’ digital and real world environments, then responds appropriately through connected technologies such as GPS, cameras or online search.
Imagine you operate an e-commerce business that specializes in formal business wear and a customer is considering buying a tie. IoT can deliver messaging that informs the customer about other colours, patterns, discount codes and promotions as they shop around your site. By using personalized messaging and providing relevant information to customers, you can improve their experience and reduce the rate of shopping cart abandonment.
IoT advertising also creates an interconnected experience for customers, from street to screen. Through mobile apps, businesses are using technologies like augmented reality or geotags to bring their products and brands to life wherever their customers shop. Apps like Instagram and Snapchat provide filters and imagery specific to customers’ locations.
When companies showcase their brands through social media and apps, they can increase both customer engagement and brand awareness.
Harnessing IoT data can lead to new success for business
Data can help companies make better, more informed decisions of all kinds. So, how do you know which data to gather? How do you analyze data once you have it? Should every decision be centered around data or will you lose the human touch?
When gathering data, you need to do it with purpose. The first step is to narrow down the kind of specific information you will collect to help you achieve your goals. For instance, are you looking to find out how you can better cater to customers’ in-store shopping patterns? Perhaps you notice certain products are not selling as well as others, or that customers are leaving before purchasing. To gather data on in-store foot traffic, you can set up IoT-connected cameras and sensors to find out where your customers go and where they pause.
After compiling data for an allotted time period, analyze the numbers and make a decision. This might sound scary—but with the right datasets and data analytics software, you can find out how much time customers spend in your store, if they’re spending more time at certain displays, when and where your peak traffic periods are, and more. Companies like Scanalytics provide intelligent insights to retail stores through their IoT solutions.
Although numbers help us understand human behaviours, shopping trends and buying patterns, remaining personal and human is crucial for businesses to thrive. Empathy and reason are not accounted for in data and devices, so it is important to remember to make sure customers feel heard and happy as technology continues to expand its reach in our lives.
As an entrepreneur, there are many ways you can use IoT for your business and your customers’ benefit. Whether by streamlining day-to-day operations; increasing productivity through voice, AI and automation tools; planning your company’s next big campaign or advertising strategy; or using data to understand your customers, IoT can help businesses dig deeper and introduce new and better ways to do business.
Maddie Stiles is the digital and communications lead at Startup Canada. Maddie is passionate about technology, startups, and entrepreneurship. firstname.lastname@example.org