Editor’s Note: With this column, Andrew Gross joins the roster of rotating contributors for the “IoT” column. Gross is an Interactive Multimedia & Collaborative Communications Alliance (IMCCA) Board Member, as are all the other contributors. He is the VP of Video Collaboration at Crestron.
For the longest time, when we have spoken about the Internet of Things (IoT), it has been associated with a futuristic-type experience in the workplace, as if the office were an ethereal, spaceship-like setting. In reality, however, IoT is simply about deploying technology that creates a more efficient workplace and connected experience. It’s about supporting your day-to-day functions, but not being completely detached from the rest of the enterprise. Connecting technology to technology, and being able to manage and monitor devices, actually offers many benefits to an employee’s daily life.
For example, there is the proliferation of collaboration using the major cloud platforms, where we’ve taken IoT-enabled devices and created IoT-enabled meeting rooms. To understand the size of this leap forward, it’s helpful to look at the past three phases of what standard meetings were.
IoT From The Past To The Present
Around 10 years ago, a non-IoT room meant that you would walk in and have your typical analog, in-person, face-to-face meeting. Then, fast forward a few years later, and your meetings would transition to those with your laptop in hand to join a video call, while others huddled around. It was all very siloed in this non-IoT space, with meetings occurring either in person or remote.
In the next phase, which we are presently in, rooms have become IoT-enabled due to collaboration software (like Microsoft Teams and Zoom) running on videoconferencing platforms. With videoconferencing, you can have a camera that’s connected over the network to capture everybody in the space, audio on the table so that everyone can hear and be heard, and microphones in the ceiling or speakers on the wall that are optimized to enhance the overall experience. All those elements are networked or inter-network connected, which means that they’re creating a cohesive workplace using IoT.
The Need For A Strong Central Network
But it’s not just about the devices in the room being networked together; it’s also crucial to be able to connect them to a central management system so that, if any go down or must be updated, it can be addressed through the internet. This, in turn, enhances the overall experience of the worker (which, honestly, should be the main goal of an organization). It’s no longer just about deploying a futuristic meeting experience; instead, it’s about creating a more dynamic and collaborative setting across the enterprise through technology.
If you scale that across thousands of meeting rooms, IoT becomes critical to creating a better media and collaboration experience for employees. However, when you do have a thousand rooms that must have an IoT experience, the more critical need becomes making sure that those rooms are really working. Here, again, is where the network comes into play.
IoT and AI
It’s also no surprise that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) transformation has led to increased IoT and artificial-intelligence (AI) implementation. IoT and AI are being used by businesses today in many ways, including for decision analytics, smart automation, product optimization and more. In the workplace, devices must be connected to get real-time feedback. The more there are, the greater the chance of failure, and they have to be managed for uptime. AI is now being utilized because it’s important for rooms and spaces to come to life and react to non-touch stimuli. Cloud-computing services give IT teams the ability to fully implement an IoT strategy and AI. It also enables IT teams to oversee the massive growth of devices and technology, as well as to support them.
The Long-Term Benefits Of IoT In The Workplace
Adopting IoT in the workplace has an incredible number of benefits for any organization, including offering the ability to maintain a competitive edge for decades to come. The reality is that the power of knowledge and insight through IoT will lead to more efficient operations and a lot of dollars being saved down the road. Although IoT can be challenging to implement, it’s critical to helping you understand what’s happening in your enterprise so that you can have long-term success. From equipping your office with systems that automate basic tasks, to obtaining important data and insights pertaining to your business for key decision-making, IoT devices can truly do the unimaginable in the world of workplace technology today.
To read more from Sound & Communications, click here.