The number of devices connected to the internet has already exceeded the number of people on the planet, sitting at around 8.4 billion as of 2017. The growth of embedded internet technology will play a large role in that figure exceeding 20 billion by 2020. This interconnectivity offers a wide range of opportunities for SME businesses, with reducing your energy bills high up on the list.
Recent figures suggest that UK SMEs have been slow to adopt IoT solutions, significantly behind both larger UK corporations and their counterparts in the USA. Just 12% of small businesses in the UK have implemented IoT technology in some form or another, according to research by Analysys Mason. That compares with 17% of American SMEs and 21% of large UK businesses. More than half of SME respondents had no plans to implement IoT in the near future. However, more than two thirds of the businesses that have implemented it now consider it ‘mission critical’.
When it comes to saving money on energy bills, simply using less is the most effective and fastest measure you can take. In turn, the best way of using less energy is to provide staff with the training and knowledge to better understand how their actions impact on energy use. Genuinely engaging them with the overall drive to reduce consumption is key. IoT offers a range of techniques that both better engages staff with this process and picks up the slack if on occasion they are less than diligent. Smart sensors can detect light and temperature levels, in turn adjusting lighting and heating to reduce unnecessary energy usage. Staff that leave the office without shutting down equipment can have a notification sent to their mobile and then do so remotely, just as one example.
Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning will play an integral role as an add-on to IoT. The office of the future may track staff by either their security passes or mobile phones and switch everything off when the last person leaves the building. Also it may switch things on when the first person arrives at the building and not before.
AI could even adjust building controls depending on who is in the building. For example, a couple of people coming into the office at a weekend for a bit of overtime might find that the AI has only switched on the lights and heating for their floor or even for their office.
Effective monitoring of your energy usage and understanding how and where it is used across your business is already a key aspect of any energy management plan.
IoT and AI technology offers huge potential in this area, allowing usage data across appliances, buildings and sites to be gathered, monitored and adjusted in real-time. Sensors across your devices gather a wealth of data, providing you with invaluable insights, allowing you to identify areas of potential improvement and monitor the impact of any steps you have taken.
While the scale of IoT and AI can seem daunting for SMEs, the reality is that there are options that cater for a wide range of different budgets and applications. To better understand the potential it could offer your business and how to implement these technologies, contact us on 0800 408 1499 or email us for more information.