Though it’s only really caught on as a buzzword fairly recently in the local context, the Internet of Things, or IoT as its commonly referred to, has been around for a number of years already, writes By Michael Colin, sales director of BitCo.
Think about any device today that’s plugged into the Internet, like your smartphone, which with the right setup, can be used to turn on your lights at home, boil the kettle, or switch off the oven – from anywhere in the world. With this example, you’ll probably understand what exactly this technological trend entails. It’s all about speed, efficiency, convenience and much, much more.
And those benefits aren’t just applicable in a consumer context. Organisations stand to gain if those advantages weave the right technology and practices into their IT infrastructure. In fact, the Cisco Internet of Things Study conducted in 2017 found that 73% of those surveyed are already using IoT to improve their business.
Embracing the trend has improved their decision-making, lowered operational costs, reduced maintenance or downtime, and boosted product quality or performance, to name just a few plusses.
With all these benefits to be gained, implementing IoT in a company seems like a no-brainer. Where does one even begin such a process though?
If you’re looking to work the phenomenon into your organisation, the best place to start is undoubtedly with the workforce. The reason why this is so: most employees today want nothing more than to be given the tools to work the way they want to, and that includes the freedom to work anywhere outside the office. Conveniently, IoT enables this.
A simple portable connection will certainly provide the freedom employees desire, opening the door for them to be more productive and extra-efficient, irrespective of their location, or the device they’re using. Yet, there’s a lot more to a mobile workforce than simply handing out a dongle for connectivity and a matching laptop. There are a few other things you’ll need to consider if you want to truly enter the IoT age.
Working remotely calls for better collaboration, and employees can only do that if they have the right Internet tools at their disposal. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from.
With the power of the cloud, organisations can offer their mobile workforce access to the likes of Dropbox, Office 365, Slack, Trello and many other online applications. These can all be accessed from anywhere, work on a variety of different devices, and boost productivity in their own ways. Some, for instance, take several processes and allow them to be performed by a single application.
Benefits aside, plugging into the online sphere comes with a multitude of risks, thanks to the ever-looming threat of cybercrime, particularly in the last few years. Remember WannaCry – a ransomware attack that shook the world in 2017? You definitely don’t want your organisation to be affected by something like that.
If you’re looking to safely enable your remote workforce, you’re going to need a solid cyber resilience strategy. This entails installing sound security software (antivirus solutions, firewalls, etc.), as well as training your employees to know what risks await them, and what they can do to prevent breaches from ever occurring. Ultimately, an organisation needs to put practices into place to keep their endpoint secure.
Welcoming the IoT trend into the workplace requires existing policies to be modified, and new ones to be created. Organisations need to ensure that they are equipped to meet the new needs and wants of their employees.
Bring your own device (BYOD), for example, is an approach your workers may be keen to adopt. Simply put, it’s the idea that the workforce can bring in whatever hardware they want to work with in order to get their job done – whether it be their mobile phone, their personal laptop, both, or more.
Catering to this want has several benefits, including boosted employee satisfaction, and potentially lower IT costs for the organisation, as they forego having to supply certain pieces of hardware.
Welcome the future
IoT is only in its infancy, truth be told, and there’s a lot of guesswork about what’s in store for tomorrow. But that’s why it’s so crucial for organisations to lay the groundwork today. They should embrace this technological trend so that they are prepared for changes to come, and won’t be left behind when competitors move with the times.
The mobile workforce definitely marks the best place to start the evolutionary process. With employees demanding flexibility, the way forward is undoubtedly one that uses IoT to its full potential.