Archive | February 2013

The Internet of things – The future is here!

The ‘Internet of things’ – have you heard this phrase yet? If not, you’re going to hear it a lot in the near future.

What is the Internet of things?

It’s all about M2M or machine-to-machine talking – devices that are linked to the internet, rather than just people. Computers are now collecting data themselves without human oversight. It’s pretty exciting stuff!

Fridges, house alarms and printers all used to be isolated. Now they can be internet-enabled.

Alarms are a great example – they can now have a mobile phone chip and be connected to the Internet. But there are others:

  • fridges (that can give you recipes)
  • ovens (that can message you when you’ve left it on)
  • wrist watches (with sensors to track your heart rate, calorie usage etc)
  • TVs (that can learn what you like and automatically record programs for you – even things you didn’t know you liked)
  • thermostats (that learn what temperature you like relative to the outside temperature. It knows if no one is there and turns off. You can even use your phone to turn it on before you arrive).

M2M for business

While this is all nice in a personal sense, this technology isn’t just about creature comforts. This technology has an important business application. For example, the smart thermostat can reduce energy during peak electricity usage.

Businesses that can potentially gain are those that depend on:

  • power supply
  • internet
  • freezer storage
  • alarm systems
  • safe work places
  • equipment failures.

If your business depends on a machine, you’ll now know when it’s failed, such as a cold room. You can monitor the power to the fridge and the temperature inside the cold room. This information is vital for businesses such as restaurants, pharmacies and laboratories.

In manufacturing, this technology can monitor gas, power supply, machine temperatures, productions rates and more. You don’t need someone watching the thermostat on the walls in all your locations – activity is centralised rather than local.

I saw a great opportunity for this technology at the Woodford Folk Festival recently. I noticed that their ADSL depended on the power supply, which was in a shed down the back of the property. They really needed a way to monitor the power supply remotely (instead of having someone traipse down the property to the shed to check it once people started complaining). Now they can.

What could your business monitor?

These examples only point to some possibilities – your business is unique. Amazing opportunities are open to your particular business.

But don’t get overwhelmed by all this! It seems a lot to take in at first glance. But that’s why we created Bizeo. The point of this technology is to monitor more things but reduce complexity at the same time. It would be useless if it increased your stress levels and time commitments! Who needs that?

Bizeo is groundbreaking because it’s ahead of the game – it’s all over the Internet of things. It allows you to monitor all the devices and machines you like. You don’t need different monitoring systems to monitor them all – Bizeo pulls them all together.

So, if you run a business that depends on machines, find out all you can about the Internet of things. It’s a really exciting development that’ll give you the peace of mind you’ve been looking for.

Death by Dashboard!

Here are some questions I’d like you to ponder:

  • Have you used dashboard technology in your business?
  • How useful did you find it overall?
  • Did you feel like you were across your business?
  • Did you have time to look at all the information you collected, let alone use it to improve business?
  • Why do you need so much information anyway?

And finally…

  • How did it all get so complicated???

Information overload

It’s official – we’re suffering from information overload. All day we’re bombarded with ads, social media, blogs, newsletters, emails and more. With all these competing distractions, we’re supposed to be across every aspect of our business. And, often, it’s not until disaster strikes (like a flood!) that we realise the truth – we’re not.

So, in recent times, we’ve implemented dashboard technology to give us all the information about our business that we could need – graphs, stats, trends and pretty colours. Except now we don’t have time to look at it, so we’re still no clearer on whether the various aspects of the business are doing ok at any given moment. Something isn’t working.

When I started out in business, it was pretty easy. If I had money in the bank and work to do, I knew everything was good. But it’s just not that simple anymore.

Now I have a massive number of KPIs to measure, including sales pipelines, websites and IT systems, customer satisfaction levels, telephone call response times, Google ad campaigns, building and network security systems, staffing levels, production rates, machine maintenance, currency exchange rates, stock values, spoilage rates and many more…

No wonder business owners are more stressed than ever. (It’s true – you can read all about it here.)

The KPI burden

The other problem for business owners is the cost of getting all these KPIs. Someone has to write a report and run it, or calculate a figure or check on a machine.

KPIs then need to be collated for management, and presented and reviewed. And most KPI reports contain not just the key metrics, but all the supporting details as well.

Graph showing with dashboards that as the number of KPIs increases, so does the effort required to get them.

This ‘KPI burden’ has caused organisations to abandon many measurement practices, and managers to stop analysing their reports and dashboards. In the last month, I’ve read at least two columns about how to prioritise and cull your KPIs down to only a handful to make them more manageable.

This isn’t the solution!

How I solved all this

Well, the solution wasn’t to give up measuring my business just because I didn’t have time. In the end, I solved the problem by inventing something brand new. (I’m in IT – it’s what I do!)

I invented a business monitoring system that could monitor hundreds of KPIs across my business BUT take me less than a second to confirm that everything’s ok. I can get more information if I need it and reassurance if I don’t. The collection processes are all automated and, no matter how many KPIs I add to it, I still have still one single indicator to check on.

Graph showing that, with Bizeo, as the number of KPIs increases, the effort required stays the same.

It’s so vital that I measure what’s going on in the business but I don’t need (more) reams of paper on my desk. I don’t want each new KPI to add more time to my day or another page to a report.

I want to know basic, but very important, things. Where are we now? What is the trend? Is everything ok? And I want to be able to check any machine (desktop, notebook, office space, tablet computer, mobile phone) to find out.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to go out and hire an IT expert to invent something like I did. I’m so proud of Bizeo that I want everyone to use it. Don’t suffer death by dashboard anymore – let Bizeo take the stress out of your business!

Facing disaster with Bizeo

What a week! All of us in the Bizeo team hope that all of you in Queensland are safe and dry after the damaging winds and flooding over the past week.

For many of us, including me, the effects of ex-cyclone Oswald brought back vivid memories of another stressful time – the 2011 floods. (Read my previous blog post, The Story of Bizeo: From Disaster to Inspiration for that story!)

But this time things were different — this time, I had Bizeo. As the developer of this technology, I finally got to see firsthand how my new invention would fair in a real, live disaster. And I know for a fact that the wild weather over the Australia Day weekend would’ve been a lot more stressful for me had it not been for Bizeo.

Like many in Brisbane, I was hit with power outages at my home. Additionally, the Council listed the street where our business is located as one of those likely to flood (not surprisingly, after 2011!).

Over that weekend, 110,000 homes and several thousand businesses lost power, and many suffered water damage as well.

Me, my candelabra and Bizeo during the blackout

Me, my candelabra and Bizeo during the blackout

What made it easier to bear was being able to see the green Bizeo indicator on my phone the whole time.  I knew then that I didn’t have to worry about our servers and websites. I knew that we would have power when we turned up at the office the next morning; that our internet connections and phone lines were ok; and that I wouldn’t have to make a treacherous journey in the driving rain to find this out.

If something had gone wrong, Bizeo would’ve told me exactly what it was and enabled me to prepare my staff to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

Today I’m so proud of what my team has created. Looking out my office window at all the other companies around us, I wonder how many of them don’t know about Bizeo yet. I can’t wait to tell them.

On a weekend like that, a monitoring system like Bizeo pays for itself many times over.

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