It proves difficult to discuss today’s disruptive technologies in isolation. The Internet of Things (IoT) is no different. To reap the full advantages of IoT, companies will need to couple IoT with other business intelligence technologies such as machine learning and advanced analytics.

The possibilities for IoT are limitless but three major benefits of these technologies will reshape the workplace as we know it: data, communication and automation.

According to EY, the IoT market will be worth $225 billion by 2020. We can thank the decreasing price of hardware and sensors as well as widely available cloud services for the rapid speed to market and implementation of IoT technologies.

What makes today’s labor landscape different than that of the 20th century is the rate at which businesses adopt and deploy new technologies. Essentially, the economy just evolves faster. To remain abreast of changing tides and sustain success, workers must become lifelong learners.

So how can IoT improve business processes, and what are the benefits for the companies that invest in this space?

Building blocks of IoT

IoT represents a confluence of many modern technologies working together namely hardware, sensors, cloud computing and machine learning.

Sensors embedded in hardware devices read information and transmit that data to people over the internet. Couple that with machine learning and devices can now make sense of that data and react to it.

Smart IoT devices bridge the gap between the information or digital world and the physical world. The building blocks of IoT start with user applications.

Without a way to process or visualize data, IoT devices wouldn’t be much use to us. IoT infrastructure requires cloud networks and servers which most companies already operate or outsource. And of course, IoT calls for physical devices and sensors in order to emit, accept and process signals.

More data, better outcomes

The first major advantage IoT already provides in enterprise is data. Other business intelligence technologies will further unlock the potential of data captured by IoT devices and volumes will increase exponentially. This means more data embedded in every aspect of work. This will call for more data analysis incorporated into nearly all job functions.

With insights derived from IoT, workers can execute tasks that produce strategic results making work more meaningful all around. We all feel discouraged when a project we felt passionate about doesn’t pan out or boss puts us on a task that reaps little reward for the department. With actionable, data-driven insights, professionals will better understand the direct impact of their efforts.

For example, a company experiencing production slowdowns will want to examine their manufacturing process to measure and free up bottlenecks. Before, this kind of analysis required time-consuming data entry and calculations. With IoT devices embedded into factories, companies can measure production throughput at every node in the chain pinpointing the exact problem areas to focus on.

In turn, employees waste less time observing and doing data entry and more time solving problems that produce tangible results.

Smart physical workspaces

The appearance of the typical office is constantly evolving. Modern workspaces are generally more open to encourage collaboration with smaller meeting rooms dispersed throughout. Companies also pay closer attention to design elements that foster happier work environments. This trend contrasts older, traditional office spaces of previous generations that walled off employees in cubes and small individual offices.

A recent study published by Gartner explores how IoT implementation will continue the evolution of the office.

We are just on the verge of 'smart offices' becoming the norm. Sensors and beacons embedded throughout the office can help with convenience factors like finding parking and open work spaces. With the help of new IoT technologies, workplaces will also become more collaborative.

In addition, jobs will likely become more general, allowing more freedom and flexibility allowing departments to further integrate.

Smart technologies will also improve workplace safety by identifying and eliminating hazards in the workplace.

Safer places to work

IBM is already working on wearables for workplace safety with Worker Insights. This program pairs advanced analytics with wearable and environmental sensor data with compliance and safety at the center. It helps stop issues before they become real problems or dangers. IoT will make the greatest impact on safety in fields where workers operate in extreme conditions or around heavy machinery.

While IoT will certainly help keep workers safe, there is something to be said for individual vigilance. Despite all the innovations that allow us to think less about risk, employees and management cannot lose sight of the fundamentals of industrial safety. After all, systems can fail.

Increased customer centricity

With rapidly emerging technologies and increased competition, many legacy industries are quickly becoming commoditized. Retailers can likely thank Amazon for that. With this challenging modern landscape, many companies are placing a higher emphasis on customer-centricity and devoting not just technology but talent to improving the customer experience.

Companies can start improving the customer experience by walking a mile in the customer’s proverbial shoes. Digital touchpoints can help provide insights to experience products and services from the customer’s viewpoint, analyze it and make improvements. Data derived from IoT can help answer some of the basic questions concerning customer expectations and service execution.

Customers will reap the most benefit through connectivity with retailers and service providers through IoT devices. With advancements in AI powered chatbots, end-users can quickly troubleshoot or obtain information pertinent to a specific product.

Better yet, connected IoT sensors can alert a manufacturer or service provider when a customer’s device will likely experience issues. Customer service teams can act proactively reducing costs on maintenance and reverse logistics while building positive relationships with the customer.

Industry revenue impact

Early adopters of IoT are already reaping the benefits. Like most disruptive technologies, IoT will inherently make some jobs obsolete but on aggregate will likely create more jobs.

EY published a study forecasting the IoT revenue impact by industry. The jobs in those industry will likely follow these revenue trends and thus evolve the most.

Top impacted industries include industrial manufacturing, high tech and banking and financial services. IoT data will reshape the jobs in these fields by way of concerted efforts to add value to customers through insights.

Photo by Simone Hutsch on Unsplash.

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