The internet of things (IoT) is one of the 21st century’s most important and impactful technological developments. In a nutshell, it’s the concept of a network of digital devices spread across a huge range of locations that are all connected to the internet and are sharing data to allow optimum performance.
IoT technology has removed the need for human intervention in a variety of situations, from general communication to decision-making regarding security, production, and resource or budget allocation. Now that computer chips can be created quickly and cheaply, almost anything can be fitted with embedded systems and connect to the internet of things, integrating more and more aspects of our lives with this responsive network.
As well as affecting the devices and appliances in our homes, the way we communicate and share personal data, and even how we use public transport, the internet of things has also had an impact on the workplace. Here are four of the most prominent ways this technology has become a part of the working world.
Smart Appliances in Office Spaces
Many people are already aware of the impact of IoT technology with the creation of smart appliances for our homes. Things like fridges, hobs, kettles, and even toasters are beginning to be fitted with embedded systems that allow them to be controlled remotely and share the data they collect with other nearby appliances.
But smart appliances are also starting to make their way into office spaces and changing the equipment and devices commonly used in the workplace, not only making these environments more connected but also improving efficiency in a range of common tasks.
Internet of things technology can be used to automatically adjust the climate of office space, meaning that things like heating and air conditioning are automatically controlled so that the workplace is always at its optimum temperature. Not only does this save money on bills, but it can also improve productivity by ensuring that employees always feel comfortable and aren’t distracted by being too hot or cold.
Some offices are also using smart technology to control the working environment by installing blinds that automatically adjust to the sun’s position, meaning that nobody ends up having to squint through the glare on their screen.
Smart printers are another common example of a smart device in most office spaces, using IoT technology to detect when they need ink or paper refills and automatically ordering more or notifying a member of the team.
Not only will the integration of these appliances improve the working environment, but it will also create more job opportunities in office spaces for technicians and the recruitment of embedded systems engineers to install and maintain these devices.
Personalized Workplace Experiences
As well as improving the overall experience of the workplace with smart appliances, IoT technology is also likely to make coming to work much more personalized once certain devices become more commonplace and automation is an accepted part of day-to-day life.
For example, when you walk into a workplace your smart devices will be able to connect with others in the office and immediately give you any useful information about what is happening in the building, as well as letting you know who else has already arrived. Individual workspaces have the potential to automatically adjust to your preferred settings when you arrive, you can prep certain programs to be up and running before you have even sat down at your desk, and at the end of the day, everything can be closed down from one central point of control.
Improved Communication and Collaboration
The internet of things is itself a mass network of communicating devices, so one impact of it in the workplace is that communication can be massively improved. This doesn’t only benefit communication between employees, departments, and remote workers, but also affects how efficiently data can be shared, progress can be monitored and projects can be collaborated on.
Collaboration itself is another aspect of the working environment that will be positively affected by increased IoT technology, with more software being created that allows devices like computers and tablets to share data in real-time for effective team working.
This technology also makes remote collaboration easier by allowing more efficient sharing of documents and data, as well as facilitating the creation of software and applications that make working together from different locations much easier.
Leading on from that last point, we can attest to some of the recent shifts to mass remote working to the emergence of IoT technology. Software, equipment, and machinery that are equipped with embedded systems mean that thousands of jobs across a range of sectors can now be done without an employee’s physical presence being required, meaning that more and more people can work from home or an alternate location without any impact on their performance at work.
As well as the obvious ways in which file sharing, video conference, communication software, and content or client management systems have made remote working possible for a lot of office workers, it has created a lot of opportunities in other sectors as well. In healthcare, for example, patients can be monitored remotely which allows for doctors, nurses, and consultants to carry out assessments and diagnoses without having to visit them, as well as reducing the strain on hospital beds by allowing patients to stay at home during recovery.
In the manufacturing industry, IoT technology has allowed for remote working to become a possibility by allowing employees to carry out safety checks and maintenance assessments without having to visit the sites.
IoT systems also make remote training and onboarding possible by allowing resources to be uploaded and shared with remote employees as well as making interactive training available through cloud-based platforms which can monitor progress and send results to employers in different locations.
Business Growth Potential
Finally, the potential for data analysis, monitoring, and sharing of all kinds of metrics mean that companies have much more scope for analyzing every element of their internal workings and identifying areas of strength and weakness. Being able to pinpoint exactly where more time and resources are needed for improved efficiency, as well as what processes are working well and should be replicated, are both important parts of successful business growth.
Businesses can use IoT technology and embedded systems to put together a detailed picture of how their company is running, whether this is pulling data from machinery to analyze production rates, looking at sales metrics, or compiling employee performance data. Areas of lower productivity can be pinpointed, common points of system failure can be identified, and data-driven solutions to improvement can be devised.
All of this analysis can have a big effect on business growth, as improved performance and productivity are key aspects of successful expansion.
Some people are still hesitant about the potential of the internet of things, but in the workplace in particular the applications for this kind of technology are endless and exciting. Automating processes and giving control of menial tasks to smart machines and software means that more time can be spent on creative thinking and abstract analysis, and having access to data from a range of different places all means that efficiency and success become much easier to achieve.