By Jennifer Tuohy
Is the Internet of Things (IoT) the most sustainable business model ever? Yes. And here's why: At its core, the Internet of Things is a business model that reduces waste and streamlines processes, promising to deliver greater value from a smaller amount of resources.
More from less is a key tenet of sustainability. Any business committed to sustainability, be it a flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina, or the National Health Service in the U.K., must embrace IoT and make it an integral part of its business model, both in the interests of profits and of sustainability. After all, sustainability has more than one meaning:
“Sustainability is not just about running more efficiently or using less carbon. It’s about being able to sustain yourself in a future that’s going to be defined by disruption and change,” explains McGee Young, founder of MeterHero.
Think about the progression: In the 1990s, 1 billion devices were connected to the Internet (mainly computers). During the 2000s, that figure jumped to over 6 billion, thanks to the development of the mobile Web and smartphones. According to research by Goldman Sachs, in the next five years, IoT will bring over 28 billion "devices" online; within the next decade, IoT will power all business.
But IoT is poised to impact business in a completely different way from the first Internet revolution. Instead of being a disruptive force, it will be an enabling force. The most important thing to understand about IoT is that its objective is not about technology — it is about facilitation:
"The value of the Internet of Things has very little to do with either the Internet or the things. Rather, the real value lies in harvesting and analyzing the data that all these objects generate, and in turning those insights into meaningful action," says Per Simonsen, the CEO of Telenor Connexion.
Nick Blandford of Schneider Electric agrees: “I see the IoT not only facilitating clean energy access but also helping to fight poverty, develop healthcare systems and increase the ability to provide education.”
For the average business owner, the overarching concepts of the IoT may not affect your daily business immediately. However, many of its early products can and will facilitate stronger sustainability, no matter the size or scale of the business.
Lighting, in particular, can have a huge impact, especially in large workspaces. Connected light bulbs can turn on and off automatically at pre-set times, or be paired with environmental and motion sensors so they operate only when needed. This type of smart lighting has the potential to reduce carbon emissions by a staggering 70 percent.
However, the most promising potential impact of IoT on energy use in an office space is the ability for connected devices to talk to each other. IoT adds intelligence into a manual process, so those connected blinds can close automatically when the smart thermostat senses the room is heating up due to the sun and, if the motion sensor indicates the room is occupied, initiate a sequence to turn the smart lights on.
Inventory control is a huge component of the power of IoT in achieving sustainability for a business. Attaching sensors to goods allows for instantaneous updating and real-time tracking of goods in the supply chain. The data derived will help businesses match supply and demand, cutting down the need for warehouse space, decreasing waste, and reducing the need for the transportation of personnel and goods.
Image credit: Stock image
Jennifer Tuohy is a tech enthusiast who provides insight about how the IOT can make your small business more sustainable. Jennifer gives advice on how to use home automation to make things smart. To learn more about home automation products for your business visit The Home Depot.