The Internet of Things (IoT) has ushered in a new era of business automation across the globe. Its ability to connect remote devices and people has facilitated businesses to expand their horizons and spread their reach across geographical boundaries.
The advent of IoT has also helped them overcome connectivity and productivity challenges in the era of digital transformation.
In short, IoT has enabled organizations to boost their productivity and profitability in today’s fast-paced, tech-driven world.
According to McKinsey, “58% of companies who embraced an IoT enables workplace experienced at least a 5% increase in revenue, while 46% had witnessed a 5% decrease in excess costs.”
This figure is testimony to the fact that the Internet of Things is the inevitable future of workplaces. Global leaders have already realized its value and are adopting it to streamline business processes, save costs, and boost overall efficiency.
This blog walks you through all the benefits IoT provides to the business world and explains the best practices you can follow for its successful implementation.
1. What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of physical devices or objects embedded with sensors, software, and technologies. They help you connect and share data with other devices via the internet. These devices can range from something as simple as a smartwatch to as complex as an industry-scale robot.
For example, a lightbulb that you can turn on or off using a smartphone app is an IoT device. Similarly, a smart thermostat in the office or a smart streetlight are also IoT devices. The large-scale applications of IoT range from driverless cars, smart cities to drones from the aerospace industry.
2. Advantages of implementing IoT in your workplace
I. Enhances operational efficiency
Proper IoT implementation in your workplace helps increase overall operational efficiency. One of the simplest examples is the use of intelligent voice-enabled speakers and AI applications in offices. Smart virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri auto-schedule recurring meetings or interviews and also let you set reminders for your priority tasks to stay on top of task management.
Their speech-to-text capabilities help document minutes of the previous meetings to enhance transparency and enable collaboration. All these features cumulatively minimize mundane tasks and allow employees to focus on critical human-specific work. Another industry-specific example is FANUC’s industrial robots. With over 100 robot models, FANUC provides manufacturers with the right IoT solutions to overcome manufacturing challenges and achieve production goals. These robots work in tandem with humans to optimize high-precision processes, including assembling, quality testing, pick-and-place, etc.
II. Boosts employee productivity
A conducive physical work environment substantially enhances productivity. Let’s understand it with some examples. A smart lighting system, for instance, helps prevent dullness and keeps employees focused and energized, increasing their productivity. Likewise, a smart standing desk tracks the number of hours you spend on your desk while working and prompts you to stand at regular intervals. Thus, it keeps the workforce active by eliminating the entirely sedentary lifestyle.
The globally renowned tech giant Apple is also providing smart desks to its employees. Another IoT application is smart kiosks. You can fit them outside a conference room to let your employees rate the quality of a meeting on a scale of 1-5. It helps you get immediate feedback and figure out what you can do to make future meetings more productive.
III. Enables proactive measures to preempt various risks
IoT technology enables decision-makers to take proactive measures to prevent issues and risks. These risks can be related to resources, equipment, workplace, or all. For example, an IoT-enabled workplace monitors working conditions and senses high temperature, humidity, vibrations, smoke, etc., to detect levels exceeding the normal range. Moreover, IoT predictive maintenance forewarns you of the need to fix faults in equipment and prevent breakdowns and accidents.
Further, workers in industries like metallurgy, mining, etc., exposed to more hazardous environments can monitor their vital signs with wearable devices. Tracking these vital signs can flag any health emergency that requires immediate medical attention. The management, thus, can call in the medical team to prevent the worker’s condition from worsening. Additionally, some smart security surveillance cameras like AI Guardman interpret videos and prompt alerts on noticing potential shoplifters.
IV. Streamlines supply chains’ management
IoT helps streamline supply chain management in several ways. A popular application of IoT is Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) chips or sensors. RFID tags track and authenticate their locations in real-time via GPS when attached to storage containers, raw materials, or final products. These real-time updates about products’ movement and location enable suppliers, manufacturers, and distributors to prepare in advance to receive goods and reduce handling times. It also allows you to form a contingency plan in case of delays.
Some products like chemicals and food require specific environmental conditions. IoT devices (primarily sensors) monitor parameters like temperature, humidity, light intensity, etc., and trigger an alarm when a particular parameter reaches its threshold. Thus, it gives you time to “act” swiftly and minimize spoilage.
One of the latest futuristic IoT innovations in supply chains is Prime Air. It’s an Amazon service to deliver up to 5 pounds in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned drones.
V. Increases workplace safety
Today, IoT technologies help companies track internal and external factors impacting workers’ safety. They can track and measure workers’ patterns on the factory floor and identify risks of harm or injuries. Smart helmets, jackets, and watches track their movements and alert them about hazardous conditions and restricted areas to prevent fatal accidents. A prime example is General Motors and Ford Motors. They provide exoskeleton vests that help them ease their overhead tasks that require lifting heavy weights and objects.
Furthermore, a laser scanner monitors vehicle and equipment navigation in warehouse and storage areas to identify protruding objects. It, thus, helps avoid major collisions that can cause damage to life and property. Sensor-equipped wearable devices also allow medical personnel and rescue crews during major accidents. Critical data collected from IoT devices help make informed decisions to avoid fatal accidents and rescue workers in emergencies. GPS tracking via IoT wearable devices can pinpoint the injured or trapped workers” exact locations and expedite their rescue operations.
VI. Reduces unnecessary expenses
When combined with artificial intelligence, IoT devices can provide actionable insights into cost-saving areas. It uses predictive analysis to prevent unprecedented machine breakdown, downtime, and heavy repair expenses. A smart building, for instance, uses IoT devices (sensors, software, etc.), monitors different building characteristics, analyzes data, provides insights into usage patterns and trends, and optimizes them. Using this technology, one can stay forewarned of the CO2 levels and accordingly control the apartment’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).
A leading appliance provider, LG, has launched its brand ThinQ in 2017. It aimed to embed Wi-Fi chips in products to enable their “communication” and learn their users’ behavioral patterns and environments. Users can use this application to perform different cost-saving functions in LG’s smart devices. For instance, one can put their refrigerator in vacation mode when away to save electricity costs.
3. Best IoT implementation practices to follow for your workplace
I. Spot the areas where you can save costs
Look for all the possible areas where you can leverage IoT devices to cut down on ongoing expenses. For instance, in inventory management, you can use sensors that detect and indicate low stocks and refill them to reduce order cancellations and increase the bottom line. Moreover, devices like LG Dual-Smart Wi-Fi ACs, thermostats, etc., can help you reduce monthly utility costs. For example, smart LG ACs feature a dual inverter compressor with a varied-speed dual rotary motor. It provides a wider rotation frequency and cools faster than traditional compressors, and helps save electricity costs.
II. Ensure to implement proper security measures
Strong security measures are indispensable to protect your IoT network against cybercriminals. First, keep a record of the exact number of IoT devices, types, and associated risks connected to the network for complete visibility. Second, change default passwords that come with devices to unique and strong passwords. Finally, focus on regular patching and updating the IoT framework. Patch management includes locating and fixing bugs and vulnerabilities in your framework that are susceptible to cyberattacks. It also includes updating features and functionalities, helps increase the system’s uptime, and maintains compliance standards.
III. Create an in-house IoT team as you scale your IoT implementation
While external consultancy services can work for your proof-of-concept (or pilot) IoT implementation, an in-house IoT team fits better in the long run. Focus on nurturing an in-house talent to maintain your extensive IoT network when you scale up. Train your employees in IoT skill sets, including QoS, IoT integration, IoT data analytics, etc.
IV. Combine IoT with resource management to enhance overall productivity
IoT-enabled devices monitor the health of the physical parameters of the workspace, whereas resource management software provides real-time information on employee performance status. As a result, organizations can combine these two technologies to enhance the productivity levels of the workforce.
Consider an example where you notice that an employee’s productivity levels are lower than expected. Managers can gauge external factors like temperature, luminosity, humidity, etc., to see if they are causing any hindrance. If they notice employees’ physical health as one of the causes behind their low productivity, IoT can also help. For example, they can leverage a smart standing desk to help keep resources active and fit and perform at their best.
4. Internet of Things – The future of Workplace
The future of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) is bright – and it is now. IoT is already revolutionizing the corporate environment and industrial workplaces across the globe.
An IoT-connected workforce raises the efficiency of operations and resources, preempts future risks, reduces unnecessary costs, and more.
So, it’s high time you got on the bandwagon of IoT adoption, transformed your workplace, and reap its benefits.
6. The SAVIOM Solution
SAVIOM has over 20 years of experience helping multinational clients manage their resources efficiently and effectively. With over 20 years of experience, this Australian-based MNC has a global presence across 50 countries and has helped 100+ clients meet their specific business goals. SAVIOM also provides tools for project portfolio management, professional service automation, and workforce planning software. So, SAVIOM can help your business to establish an efficient system geared towards your specific business challenges.