Actionable IoT Data

How Actionable IoT Data Reduces Operational Costs

Ensuring your business is continually running efficiently is crucial to minimizing costs and maximizing profits.  Staffing, wastage, maintenance, and energy costs can have a huge impact on the profitability of your venture. Over time, small areas of inefficiency or loss can have a significant effect on your bottom line, and in many cases can ultimately determine the success or failure of your venture. In this article we’ll discuss some of the ways that Internet of Things (IoT)  technologies can help your company save money and increase profits. Specifically, we’ll examine how utilizing an IoT system in your business can give you insights into where and when waste is occurring. IoT solutions for businesses and restaurants can provide you with the actionable data you need to generate impactful process improvement plans, which will allow you to maximize your profits and minimize waste and unnecessary expenditure. We will focus on both large and small companies, whether manufacturing, retail or restaurant chains, as well as look at some of the specific ways restaurants in particular can benefit from IoT technology.

How to reduce business costs

Reducing the operational costs of your business is all about increasing efficiency.  This is often easier said than done.  Increasing efficiency can mean many things, from determining the correct staffing needs, ordering only the goods or materials you need to minimize wastage, or simply ensuring that your business is efficiently utilizing power and water utilities.  Creating impactful process improvement in just one of these areas can have a positive, and significant, impact on your bottom line.

The problem many administrators and managers run into is how to continually increase their operational efficiency while still maintaining the broad trajectory and goals of their organization. When managing the big picture, it is often difficult to be aware of, or pay attention to, the small details that have a big impact on efficiency. Implementing and relying on an IoT system is one effective method you can utilize to reduce business costs.

For managers and administrators, the main problem they run into is having access to the actionable data they need to make informed decisions. Let’s examine how an IoT system works to address this issue. An IoT system consists of a mesh network of sensor nodes placed at key points on your equipment or throughout your infrastructure. These sensor nodes continuously collect data from their locations. As they collect data they upload it to a cloud-based server where it is filtered down, rendered into a usable format, and sent to a data dashboard on your computer or mobile device. Your data dashboard then acts as a window from which you can seamlessly see data from across your organization, in real-time.

In a retail setting, your data could consist of customer traffic at your locations, which will allow you to more efficiently allocate staffing resources. Your analysis of foot traffic in your retail locations may lead you to realize that your stores should open earlier, or close later, maximizing the efficiency of both your staffing expenditures and energy costs when your businesses are open. Your IoT system will also allow you to see when doors are left propped open, decreasing the efficiency of your air conditioning system or leading to thefts. Additionally, you’ll be able to see if lights are being left on overnight, which can have a large impact on your utility bill if left unaddressed.

While these issues may seem small, the costs of these small mistakes add up over time. This results in significantly higher operating costs for businesses. Your specific industry will determine how you can best utilize your IoT system to decrease costs and increase efficiency. IoT systems should be inherently flexible, and can be applied in any industry. By intelligently utilizing your IoT network in your specific application, you can gain access to the data you need to ensure that you are continually operating at peak efficiency.

How IoT can work for your large company

Reducing operating costs within a large company can be an ongoing and difficult process. Maximizing efficiency, and thereby increasing profits, is necessary for any large company to stay competitive. As opposed to smaller businesses, one of the primary impediments to generating actionable data within large businesses is the existence of too much data. Often, much of this data is irrelevant or unnecessary to the day-to-day operations of the organization. Irrelevant data can obscure the insights that you can use to generate change. However, sifting through this data to generate actionable insights takes both time and manpower. Large companies must hire staff to create customized API’s to filter the unique data they are generating. These staff must also keep that API up to date, or create new ones as new datasets are incorporated into operations. At the point where actionable data can be gleaned from the glut of information, the data is frequently stale or out of date. The lag time between when data is generated and when it can be viewed and acted upon can be as long as days or weeks, and during this time crucial opportunities for process improvement can be missed.

Efficiently harnessing and utilizing data is critical to successfully reducing operating costs of a large company. One of the most cost effective, and easily implemented, solutions to this problem is incorporating a robust IoT system into your organization. A correctly configured and implemented IoT system eliminates the lag time between when data is collected and can be acted upon. This creates more actionable insights for your management team.  An IoT system does this by seamlessly moving data from sensor collection points to management in real-time. The data is collected at the sensor point, sent to the cloud and filtered down, and delivered to your data dashboard in a usable and easily accessible format. Additionally, only the data you want to see is displayed on your dashboard. With this system, data isn’t lost.  You can select the data points you want and dive deeper to see specific trends within datasets. Because IoT systems and data dashboards work seamlessly, you have a comprehensive view of your organization in real-time. This allows management teams to change from being reactive to being proactive.

IoT systems also give you access to a larger network of data to work with. The inherently flexible nature of an IoT system allows sensor nodes or data points to be added as they are needed, or conversely removed when they are no longer needed. When you add a new data point that needs to be monitored, you can add a new gauge or graph to your data dashboard for that specific point. This allows you to monitor new ventures or areas of growth in the critical early stages of their development and implementation. The beauty of an IoT system for your large company is that while it provides larger amounts of data across a broader network, it doesn’t hide the data you need. Smart filtering systems combined with intelligent alerts give you control over what data you see and can react to. Having access to the data you need, and not being inundated by the data you don’t, is an important aspect of increasing the efficiency of both your management team and your organization. At the same time, it allows you to decrease the time between when data is gathered and when it is acted upon. This gives you more actionable insights into your organization, which over time can have a big impact on both efficiency and your bottom line.

How IoT can save cost for your restaurant

One of the largest markets for growth for IoT systems is within the restaurant industry. Restaurants operate on thin profit margins, making process improvement to maximize efficiency and reducing business costs a critical priority. Implementing an IoT network in your restaurant will allow you to pinpoint exactly where you can effectively enact changes to increase efficiency.

In the past, restaurant managers had to either be on-site or rely on knowledgeable and engaged management staff to ensure that their organization was running at peak efficiency. Still, restaurants continue to be plagued by wastage, both through energy and staffing efficiency, as well as food spoilage. Restaurants have also been slow to incorporate emergent IoT technologies into their field. Restaurant managers have begun to realize that utilizing the data generated by IoT networks can help them target and improve their organization to increase profits and minimize costs.

Utilizing an IoT system in a restaurant or food service field can be beneficial in a number of different ways, and can be an excellent cost saving idea for restaurants. First, it can be used to provide targeted information regarding the operating efficiency of your organization. Sensors can be placed on cooktops, grills, doorways or lights to collect data. This data can then be used to determine if these resources can be more efficiently used, when they are at peak usage, or if they are being left on during lull periods or when your business is closed.  From this data you can glean actionable insights. Sensors on grills or cooktops can let you know if your equipment needs maintenance. They can also indicate peak periods of usage, so that you can better allocate staff. Sensors on doorways, both service and public entrances can also be useful. Public entrance sensors can give you real-time data about how many customers are in your restaurant at any given time. This too can help you allocate staff for rush periods, but avoid overstaffing during lull periods. Sensors on service entrances can let you know that your doors are being left propped open, which can decrease your environmental and energy efficiency. Door sensors can also be used as a security indicator, letting you know your establishment has been locked up securely for the evening.

The aforementioned examples are just some of the ways that an IoT network can help you more efficiently run your restaurant. IoT systems are about collecting the data you need and presenting it to you in an efficient manner. You can customize how your IoT network is configured based on the specific needs of your restaurant. Over time you can change your configuration by adding new sensor nodes, removing unused ones, and adding new dashboard modules as you need them. Lastly, your IoT system can be utilized to generate alerts for events within your restaurant. Alerts allow you to be off-site or traveling between locations and stay up-to-date if an issue arises. Customized alerts give you the flexibility to determine which events will generate an alert, giving you actionable data when you need it most. Customized alerts also allow you to not be tied to a computer, but rather engaged with your customers or staff, while having the security of knowing that you will be alerted should something need your attention.

Utilizing an IoT solution in your organization is a cost-effective means through which you can have a significant impact on your business costs. Whether you are looking at cost saving ideas for a large company, restaurant or retail venture, implementing an IoT solution is one of the best places to start. The ease-of-use and flexibility of an IoT solution allows you to quickly install and integrate IoT data into your organization. The customizability of IoT sensor arrays and data dashboards gives you the power to fully adapt an IoT solution to the specific needs of your company. Once installed, the data generated by your IoT solution will give you greater breadth and depth of knowledge about your organization, and generate more actionable insights from which you can drive change. Using the data generated by your IoT solution you can begin to address the small, yet important, issues that impact your costs. By doing so you can ensure that your business or restaurant is running more efficiently. Lastly, relying on an IoT solution to monitor your organization will allow you to spend more time providing better customer service, implementing sales or production goals, and shaping the trajectory of your business to reach its fullest potential.

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