The Internet of Things involves connecting any electronic device to the Internet with wireless connections, such as phones, wearable devices, watches, kitchen appliances and televisions. Components of vital machines can connect wirelessly to the Internet as well, including drills on an oil rig, sensors in jet engines and GPS in cars. These devices form a huge network that sends information into storage facilities, and then software displays the information in a way people can interpret the information. These devices make life more convenient and efficient, but they also stand to revolutionize the American workplace.
Improving the Labor Force
Healthy employees are more productive and use fewer sick days. That saves companies labor costs over time and through the entire workforce. Wireless fitness trackers can help people with nutrition, workout routines, getting the right amount of activity and telling workers when it's time to stand up and stretch.
HR managers have begun to notice the benefits of health trackers, and some firms even offer these devices as part of a comprehensive health and wellness program. Health trackers may lead to better overall wellness in employees, which reduces health care costs. Some health insurance companies provide coverage at a lower cost to firms that use fitness trackers with their employees. The overall effect is that companies save money due to health trackers for various reasons.
Businesses reduce costs on several fronts. A wireless sensor can monitor if someone leaves the room, and then the sensor automatically turns off the room's light. Motion sensors can then turn on any lights once people walk into the room. The power savings alone adds up over time, so the wireless sensors pay for themselves. Similarly, heat sensors can track how to run the air conditioning more efficiently.
Installation of vital sensors becomes less expensive because of battery power within small wireless hardware. Before devices got smaller, sensors and equipment needed a constant stream of power from electrical wires. Then an Ethernet wire had to go from the device to a computer somewhere in the building. IoT devices reduce costs by eliminating the added infrastructure. Companies can simply place the sensor where it's needed, power it up with a battery and start the transmitter.
Devices connect to the Internet and then transmit the information to the correct software. Special computer programs then interpret the data and decide what to do next. For example, a sensor on laser printer toner knows when the toner gets low. A wireless connection sends this information to an automatic system that orders and buys more toner. Instead of a secretary spending several minutes ordering new supplies, the IoT devices do this automatically. Savings with labor costs come into play again, as this type of device makes ordering supplies easier.
When more processes automate within a particular firm, this leaves more time and energy for staffers to develop better business strategies, predictive marketing plans and new products. These all lead to new revenue streams, more profits and more efficient use of resources.
Better Use of Data
Storage and analysis of data remain huge issues within the Internet of Things. Data compiled by connected devices usually goes to a data storage facility, and then companies access this information through cloud computing software. As more IoT devices come online, companies need more app developers and programmers to create software that analyzes this data. As such, the intelligent workplace could shift towards more jobs for IT experts, programmers, developers and computer scientists to handle the logistics of IoT devices. More and more jobs may focus on people who know how to use technology versus those that don't.
Sharing data among employees, partners, customers and innovators becomes easier because of information communicated through mobile devices. Someone in Seattle can share data with an engineer in Mumbai and Cairo simultaneously when information stored in cloud computing services transmits to each person's laptop or mobile device. That way, these people can solve a problem immediately without a face-to-face meeting
Meanwhile, a plant manager can see data from the latest product run to raise or lower how much raw materials to order from an overseas supplier, and a vital customer can give feedback about how much finished product it needs. All of these things can happen in real time, with actual data that all three parties see, so people can collaborate on what to do next. Collaborating in this way saves travel time, and decision-makers can see what to do based on available data.
IoT devices don't have to be fancy sensors. A simple laptop, tablet computer and an Internet connection could let more employees telecommute and work from home. This saves time spent in the car getting to an office and traveling to work. Although some work requires in-person collaboration, routine and everyday tasks could happen at home instead of in the office. Workers can connect to work software through cloud computing applications and software downloaded to a computer at home.
No matter how a company decides to use IoT devices, this concept represents the future of doing business across many fronts. The bottom line is that companies can save money in the long run by making investments in hardware and software that improves data collection and analysis.
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