Internet of Things in the Workplace: 4 Things You Need to Know
As the IoT continues to become more prevalent, soon it will enter into the workplace also. This will provide offices with many different benefits, but also things to be cautious of.
Our homes have already been infiltrated by the Internet of Things, everything from our door locks to our thermostats are automated. As the IoT continues to become more prevalent, soon it will enter into the workplace also. This will provide offices with many different benefits, including:
- Energy metering, such as the smart meters inside your home, will transmit data to assist you with generating more accurate energy usage billing for clients.
- Real-time tracking capabilities, like being able to ‘recognize’ a client when they walk through the door, will make it possible for operators to know the amount of time that specific users spend inside their space and then bill them accordingly. It can also help co-working operators have a better understanding of their most valuable clients.
- Whenever your printer starts to run low on toner or ink, the machine can automatically re-order the right items on its own.
- Whenever the office is vacant motion detectors can dim the lights, to save on energy and power. This can be applied to natural ventilation, heating and window blinds also.
- A secure access system on office doors and buildings – for example, if an individual tries entering the premises without having approved access – images are sent an operator’s smart phone. In addition, the door can be locked remotely.
- During an emergency, GPS technology can be used to track staff location and presence within an office building.
- Parking sensors via a car navigation panel or smartphone app can guide drivers to the next closest available spot.
It all sounds great. However, if you are considering bringing the IoT into your workplace, there are a few things that you need to know:
1. Privacy Is Crucial
People are a lot more comfortable having sensors track all of the nuances of their personal habits when they are in their own homes. However, in the workplace, they might not be quite as comfortable sharing information such as purchase history or allergies. IoT users ideally need having control over what specific information they share within a connected space. Individuals want to maintain professional distance and protect their jobs in an office setting. Therefore, it is critical for people to have control over their personal data.
2. Use Identities to Secure Things
Business software is used to provide users with various permissions and roles for information they can read or settings that they can change. In the physical world, experiences are the same.
Having the capability to manage identities within a connection space makes it possible to tailor experiences based on whether an employee has authorization or not. Unlike at home, an individual using a device is not the owner but is instead a guest of the system. Security and confidentiality are important aspects that need to be considered regarding the connected office, which is why experiences need to be customized by offices based on what user permissions are.
As an example, if the accounting group is in the conference room going over projects, and someone unauthorized comes in, the presentation display screen can be set so that it locks automatically. Or, given the opportunity for large parts of your business operations to be automated, you need to ensure that the right individuals have the authority to make changes to your system.
To take things one step further, an important security measure to have in place is two-factor authorization. When you are online, it is easy enough using someone else’s password for gaining unauthorized access to data.
In the physical world stealing a magnetic card, smart phone or RFID wrist band is easy enough to gain access to private locations or information inside an office. This can be prevented by offices through programming a space for delivering the “authorized experience” only if two identification levels are triggered.
3. Develop a Backup Plan To Use Whenever The Power Goes Out
You will need to have the ability to open your supply closets even if the WiFi goes down. If this type of connected experience is central to the operations of your workplace, try having a backup plan for when the power goes out. Backup systems on connected devices tend to be more complicated since they might not have access to the cloud in order to function even with battery power.
4. Scale With A Dashboard And Common API
Processing data and systems tracking for office should be simple to use, but robust enough at the same time for managing data from thousands of different employees, many devices and large office. The 1-to-1 relationships between the Internet and devices that many of the existing hardware solutions offer really don’t cut it. A common dashboard is needed that makes it easy for you to add new devices and new identity tracking on a regular basis.
If all of the fanfare for the IoT at the CES this year is any indication, COO’s and IT executives are going to have the IoT on the top of their priority list very soon for the workplace. Some of the most interesting stuff was showcased by Nokia Networks.
Those individuals will be looking to the connected world in order to streamline technology, cut operations costs and provide a more efficient and comfortable workplace for employees. To pursue the practically limitless potential that IoT has to offer in a responsible manner, the considerations above need to be accounted for. However, if approached correctly, the IoT can be a very successful innovation for your office.
Image Credit: EMnify
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