The Internet of Things (IoT) has already firmly embedded itself into America’s homes, industries, and infrastructure, and now it’s tackling that final frontier of the market, the office. Increasingly, America’s savviest businesses are adopting IoT tech into their office environments to ease their employees’ workloads, save serious money on overhead and by reducing fraud, and to gather valuable data which can be used to optimize their operations.
So how exactly are IoT solutions being applied to office dilemmas, and is the increasingly trendy “smart office” anything more than a temporary fad? A quick look at the union between smart tech and America’s workspaces shows that this phenomenon is anything but temporary, and will fundamentally reshape how we work and run our businesses well into the future.
Building an intelligent workplace
The same principles that make the IoT so desirable to industrial factories and living rooms alike also apply to America’s offices. By relying on IoT gadgets and software to create a “smart office,” firms can begin to collect data about their everyday operations which reveals previously unknown trends and errs in their day-to-day operations. Furthermore, the integration of tech into the workplace alleviates the heavy workloads often placed on employees – who are only human, after all – and helps them make better-informed decisions.
Whether it’s applying IoT solutions to classical logistical problems, such as by relying on gadgets to notify you when basic office supplies are running low, or by integrating data analytics into your office operations, the IoT is seriously reshaping how managers approach common business dilemmas. IoT applications are broad, too; hospitals, independent startups, and established businesses like a financial firm alike can all find some application of the IoT.
There are so many options for today’s IoT consumer that it can be challenging to figure out where you should begin. Company managers and executives are increasingly asking themselves how smart their offices should be, but the glory of the IoT is its flexibility; your office can suffice with only a few, customizable gadgets if you’re not ready to fully embrace the IoT and retrofit your entire building. Installing a nest thermostat that saves you a few hundred dollars on heating and air a year is but the start of the how the IoT can redefine your workspace, however.
The real value from the IoT in the office comes from its machine learning capabilities. America’s offices can learn a lesson from its manufacturing sector, which has deftly adopted the IoT to drastically cut cost while improving productivity. Integrating algorithms into your company’s business has never been easier than now, and a plethora of wise investors are beginning to realize they can use AI and machine learning to detect underlying market trends waiting to be exploited.
Keeping workers calm
Not all of the IoT’s impact on the office space has been pleasant, however. Like in many industries, particularly manufacturing, office employees may be fearful that the “digitizing” of their workspace with IoT gadgets, such as video walls, and software could endanger their jobs. This means employers have a special responsibility to their employees to keep them trained, educated, and productive enough that they can be a boon to your business by working alongside IoT tools like algorithms.
Many employees have specific concerns about their privacy when it comes to the IoT in the workplace, too. There’s already plenty of buzz about how security, privacy, and productivity concerns need to be carefully balanced when it comes to adopting IoT tech and software en masse, but business leaders interested in bringing the IoT to their own operations should still keep it in mind.
Employers eager to adopt the IoT for all of the productivity and cost-saving boons it will bring shouldn’t be deterred by such concerns, but merely keep them in mind and keep their employees updated on their future plans. The IoT is an extraordinarily powerful tool that’s helped generate hundreds of millions if not billions in revenue for countless companies, but it must be wielded appropriately, particularly when it’s being adapted to new spaces like offices around the nation.
As smart offices continue to come into their own, we’ll see a broader acceptance of the IoT in mainstream society. Business leaders hoping to cash in on this tech-driven phenomenon would be wise to start bringing the IoT into their workspaces now; those who wait too long could feel the heat from their competitors who were early adopters.
Whether it’s reducing downtime when there’s been a disaster or optimizing your scheduling systems to save time and money, the IoT is quickly forcing its way into every aspect of our business lives. There’s no use fighting such a widespread revolution in business affairs, meaning managers should wise up and embrace it while they’re in a good position to do so. As we’ll come to see more and more, smart offices mean higher profits, happier employees, and better businesses.
He is currently the co-editor of www.ucinsight.com, and has held editorship positions on two B2B magazines and four consumer titles (including Microsoft's FYI magazines).
Latest posts by Gary Eastwood
- How IoT Is Shaping The Smart Office Of The Future - October 30, 2017