The internet of things, as well as the fascinating new devices that it has to offer, is a big topic at the moment. Part of that is due to its impressive growth, with the number of internet connected devices expected to hit 200 billion by 2020 according to estimates from Intel.
In fact, internet-connected devices are likely to have an impact across every area of our life. Local governments will be able to adjust traffic flows using internet connected traffic lights and doctors will be able to ask their patients to wear medical devices that track symptoms and activity levels.
But today, we’re looking specifically at how new devices and the connected office will revolutionise the workplace. The future is coming, and here’s your chance to take a look at it.
Standing desks are just the beginning. One of the big advantages that IoT technology has is its ability to monitor the work environment and to make suggestions for how to improve it. For example, GreenMe is already offering an office sensor which measures temperature, noise, light and more at every workstation, and companies can use these insights to develop a more ergonomic office.
Imagine if your employees used internet connected mice and keyboards which monitored their usage and told them when to have a break, or if they used internet-connected workstations that forced them to stand until they’d achieved a daily quota and earned a sit. Muscoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome are responsible for a third of all worker injury and illness cases, so any device which can help to combat that will be more than worth the price that we pay for it.
One of the interesting things about monitoring ambient factors like temperature, noise and light is that everybody has a different preference. You’ve probably experienced this yourself if you’ve ever been in a room in which one person is too warm and one is too cold and they keep opening and closing the window to try to hit a happy medium.
Connected devices, artificial intelligence and machine learning could usher in a
future in which our offices know who we are and automatically adjust themselves to make us as comfortable as possible. They could calculate the perfect temperature based on everyone who’s in the room – and while we might not actively notice it, it would help to keep us more comfortable for longer and to improve our moods.
If you’re a service-based business then it’s likely that you bill your clients per hour. Even if not, or if you run a product-based company that focusses on shifting units, it’s important to get a good idea of what your employees are doing. Manual timesheets are good and automated timesheets are even better, but imagine if you could get an idea of how long people are spending making coffees or spending in specific meeting rooms.
One of the big benefits of the internet of things is that it allows you to track almost anything. As technology prices continue to fall thanks to Moore’s Law, the ability to add sensors will become more mainstream and we’ll be able to track it all from our smartphones.
At its most basic level, product manufacturers could add internet connectivity to track how the products are being used or to download software updates automatically. Service providers could gather everything from telematics data in vehicles to resource usage data, so that if one of the meeting rooms isn’t being used it can be rented out or repurposed. Even the little things count. Imagine if you could stop running out of paper for the printer and wasting time by sending people out to buy more. Just get it delivered when your stationary cupboard tells you to.
Businesses thrive on data. Marketing departments use it to measure the success of their campaigns. Sales teams use it to determine when someone is most likely to buy. Product development teams use it to inform the design of new features and new products. Finance departments use it to track profit and loss and to make projections for the future.
And that’s ultimately where the connected office will be able to offer its biggest benefits. More data means more informed decisions, and while we will face a challenge as we try to understand all of this data, it will also give us an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about what’s actually going on beneath the metaphorical hoods of our companies.
All of this means that we live in an exciting time, and with so much innovation on the market, there’s never been a better time to jump on board. New devices are constantly popping up on the market to help you to monitor different metrics throughout the office, so the only real challenge is deciding what to measure – and then to take steps once the data starts to come in.
It’s a nice problem for you to have.