Predictions call for the introduction of billions of new Internet of Things, or IoT, devices in the next few years, but this might seem like nothing more than an interesting concept—and not one worth implementing for your new business. On the other hand, some of the jobs that you have to juggle from day to day can actually be outsourced to “the cloud,” allowing IoT technologies to help with tasks like sales, payroll and even keeping the lights on.
Read on to find out about several devices that could help streamline your startup’s business operations.
- Mobile credit card payment processing
If your startup needs to take payments in person, you could set up an entire point-of-sale (POS) system. But for a ready-made and portable alternative, smart device-based readers like those made by Square and Clover let you take payments anywhere.
In some cases, these tiny readers even let you take credit card transactions while offline, meaning that you can get paid even if the sale takes place in a remote area with no cellular reception. This type of device is a great alternative when starting a business, and can function as an excellent backup when other equipment isn’t working.
- Time tracking
In a startup environment, time is your most valuable asset, but how many of us really track how much time we spend on certain activities? You can estimate your stats, or use software trackers, but these can be inaccurate in the case of estimation, or can take your focus away from what you’re really good at if you have to open up another app.
The ZEIº device is used to indicate what you’re working on, tracking time automatically and letting you bill for things that might not normally be tracked, like a short phone call to a customer. Even if you’re not billing for a certain task, this can help you figure out if you’re using your time efficiently.
For those businesses that need to have employees clock in to record work hours, one solution is to use facial recognition via a tablet-based kiosk. A service called Deputy allows employees to clock in using an iPad. This setup then pushes information to another service called Gusto, which handles payroll and benefits.
- Virtual office assistants
In all but the most senior roles, assistants have mostly been phased out in favor of employees who can type memos themselves and keep their own schedules. However, this concept hasn’t been entirely lost.
You can now add the help of a virtual assistant for the small one-time fee required to buy an Amazon Echo or Google Home, or you could even get really creative and put one together with a Raspberry Pi single-board computer. While these devices can answer useful general-knowledge queries like “what is 1 inch in metric?” they can also schedule appointments and remind you of upcoming meetings and events. They can even be used to order products, or recommend a restaurant where you can meet a client. For that matter, if you need a little music to help you work, or even a (rather weak) joke to help you de-stress, these devices can help with those tasks, too.
- Automate office tasks
After spending a long day working tirelessly on developing your startup, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you’ve locked the doors, turned off your lights, or any number of other things that go through a business owner’s head after heading out of the office for the night.
One solution is to get a bevy of smart locks, which allow you to schedule access for employees and remotely check on the status of these doors. Some models even allow you to get text messages when your place of business is opened or locked. Lighting can also be controlled via automation, and can be scheduled or controlled via a smart device. With services such as If This Then That, commonly written as IFTTT, you can even have one event trigger another.
These are just a few ways you can use IoT devices to enrich your startup experience, but you can rest assured there will be many more to come in the future. By embracing a spirit of innovation, you’ll discover many creative ways to work smarter every day.