As an avid follower of the stock market, I am always on the lookout for an early sign of a trend to make money. There have been some great long-term trends over the past few years, ranging from the move for people to eat healthier, the “greening” of the energy market and, of course, the move towards IoT and other disruptive technologies.
The onset of the pandemic caused the overall stock market to plunge in a manner that has not happened in our lifetimes. However, the pain was not felt equally by everyone. Many companies saw a spike in their sales (I mean, who thought we would see Chef Boyardee become a big thing again) while others like Disney dropped precipitously due to the closing of their parks and cruises.
Throughout all of this, however, there is an exciting trend among all industries. Those who have implemented different forms of remote working and, primarily, automation have fared better than those who did not. All of the automation in the world might not have helped particular industries during this crisis. You can fully automate a baseball stadium, but if there are bans on large crowds, it wouldn’t matter at all. However, many companies were not quite in that drastic of a situation, yet did not fare that much better.
Just look at companies that moved towards automating their warehouse and stores; they had fewer cases of COVID and saw fewer drops in their productivity levels. The same goes for companies that have moved away from having human analysts and now use software-based programs. These include industries such as the financial markets that have seen minimal issues over the past two months. You may say, “Well, my business needs to have face-to-face interaction, so those do not apply to me.” However, there are almost always ways that automation, especially IoT, can help.
Remote sensors can prevent property maintenance teams from having to go on-site as often. At the same time, smart video surveillance systems can allow you to interact with visitors without having to be in front of them. As I have written before, I think that the pandemic will be a wake-up call for many companies who will now explore technology from a completely different angle.
Previously, it was all about the cost of automation when compared to the cost of an employee or contractor- did it make sense to invest? Now, I think many companies will see technology (remote computing, automation, IoT, etc.) as a way to not only reduce costs but also to ensure they have a better emergency plan for next time.
Where does the average small business want to look? Here are a few ideas:
- As you move towards putting things on the cloud (for access from anywhere), all of your key sites will need to have a backup method of accessing the Internet. Think cellular routers here as a low-cost method of protection.
- Sensor-based solutions are great for letting your team know what is going on from anywhere; ideal when you are trying to social distance
- Robots may be costly for many businesses, but there is an increasing amount of lower-cost devices on the way. These may be used for greeting customers, working in high-risk areas or even for deliveries. They are also ideal for riskier roles or those that may cause physical injury.
- As we can gather more information than ever before, software packages are allowing for data to be crunched and actions to be taken in ways that would have been science-fiction a decade ago. There are cloud-based and turn-key services that fit the budget of even the smallest companies.
If you are looking at making a move, do remember that there are many emerging cellular technologies out there to allow you to do more than ever before. If your business needs blazing speeds for communication, 5G will be just what the doctor ordered. If you just need reliable connectivity for small bits of data, CAT-M is made for you.