The Internet of Things, which is often abbreviated to IoT, refers to the connection of devices to the Internet. This goes beyond computers and smartphones and includes kitchen appliances, cars, heart monitors, furnaces, and more. The list keeps on growing. These days, it seems like every new device has a “smart” component.
Any standalone device that can be connected to the Internet and monitored and controlled from a remote location is considered an IoT device. Intel has projected that there will be 200 billion connected devices by 2020. While IoT device have been transforming our homes, we spend most of our time at work. The Internet of Things is already changing the way we work and do business.
A number of different industries, including marketing, manufacturing, and logistics, are using IoT technology today. Companies both large and small will likely implement this technology in the coming years to enhance efficiency and productivity, lower energy consumption, and improve collaboration.
In the workplace, people are constantly moving around, going to and from different buildings, whether to engage in chit chat with their coworkers, attend meetings, or grab coffee in the break room. With the Internet of Things, you could track their movements and activity with motion sensors. This technology could be coupled with lighting and HVAC systems that shut on and off based on activity to save on utility costs and lower energy consumption. IoT technology could even be used to help cleaning crews determine whether or not to clean a room, depending on whether the room has been used.
Tracking movement is also valuable because it helps companies gain a better understanding of how their space is being utilized and make more informed real estate decisions. Even retail establishments can make more informed decisions about the way they set their stores up based on customer movement patterns.
Industrial occupations stand to benefit greatly from the Internet of Things because of the nature of industrial work. Factory and plant workers constantly have to monitor machinery and volatile processes, where inattention could spell danger.
Traditionally, the control room is the only place where workers can get a complete picture of what’s going on. By putting data into the cloud with IoT devices, however, technicians, managers, and even remote experts can get access to safety data at all times and monitor the situation remotely from their devices.
Thanks to the Internet of Things, more work can be done remotely. Through their devices, people can do work while they’re commuting or at home. This is leading to a blending of people’s personal lives and work lives. This doesn’t mean that collaborating in person with colleagues will go the way of the dinosaur, however. In-person collaboration is still important, but IoT devices give workers more flexibility in choosing a workspace for their independent tasks and non-collaborative work.
The struggle with IoT moving forward will be to figure out what to do with all the data generated. Companies have to be able to make and automate real-time decisions based on the data generated. The more data you have access to, the more conclusions you can come to and the more decisions you can make to improve the way you do work.
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