The Internet of Things (IoT) will transform your business. Heard it all before?
The explosion of connected devices and the increasing number of businesses embracing them for mainstream operations, has meant that analysts are now estimating that over 20 billion “things” could be circulating by 2020. But, how will it transform business as we know it?
We have all seen the seismic shift in how mobile tech has impacted the workplace the past few years. From fixed wired desktops to flexible, collaborative digital environments, all industries have felt the impact of mobile technology – be it in office buildings, on the manufacturing floor or in industrial settings. But now it’s moving to the next level, businesses are starting to see and feel the benefits IoT can bring including cost savings, efficiencies and enhanced customer experiences.
Transform the workplace through technology
So, why is this shift significant? Take the smart conference room management app, ‘Robin’, streamlining admin processes by booking your meeting room complete with necessary amenities, in a few smartphone swipes employees can find, book and locate a free meeting room and when they arrive for their meeting automatically initiate a Microsoft ‘Skype for Business’ session, saving significant time. It is these small efficiencies that as a collective can help with the overall productivity and satisfaction within the working environment.
Similar technologies are enabling employers like the Swiss bank UBS to abandon rigid cubicle farms in favor of hot-desking, where workers have no fixed work area, work station or phone. This maximizes their facilities while simultaneously providing the types of collaborative environments that ultimately result in the innovations necessary for competitive success. .
The industrial and manufacturing industries are also embracing IoT opportunities. Operational technology is working together with information technology to drive more efficient, effective processes, reduce costs and improve profitability.
Have the edge, be intelligent
Big data is not a new concept but the amount of data is growing exponentially as a result of the sheer number of people, places and things that now inhabit the digital workplace. As a result, it makes sense to move some of the computing power required to process this serious amount of data to a network location or Intelligent Edge. Here, technologies connect and automate anything from IoT- enabled lighting to heating and from manufacturing processes to industrial systems.
Applications like our friend Robin, not only require a host of systems to connect and transmit data from mobile and IoT devices, they also perform various analytical processes to create the workplace, operational, brand and IT experiences I have just described.
What’s more, outside of four workplace walls, countless opportunities exist to incorporate this data – think connected cars, smart parking meters and traffic control where external connectivity solutions, like Long Term Evolution or low-powered wireless signals, are incorporated.
Focus on the foundation first
The Intelligent Edge consists of three layers. Layer one is the foundation. This is the infrastructure containing familiar technologies (local area network, wireless local area network, wide area network) and contemporary innovations like Bluetooth, Low Energy sensors and converged edge systems.
In layer two, local area platform technologies (mobility or mobile-first platforms) manage the devices within your enterprise, while wide area platforms use universal IoT and focus on connecting the billions of devices spread across a region.
Finally, a robust partnership ecosystem, necessary for developing the apps and services that deliver the experiences enterprises need to make their digital workplaces run, forms layer three. A typical ecosystem contains next-generation innovators and enterprise players like Microsoft.