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PHOTO: Jimmy Conover

Digital workplaces have transformed, and while some security challenges remain, humans and computers are sharing job duties to improve productivity and business efficiency. With its capability to integrate electronic smart devices via the web, the Internet of Things (IoT) enables a new environmental ecosystem, a smart digital workplace, and helps people manage work conditions remotely.

Data, IoT and Digital Workplaces

The result is that businesses will have a limitless set of tools at their disposal giving them a view of their business that was not possible a decade, or even five years, ago. Technology, like business analytics, big data, IoT and business intelligence, offers an objective perspective that companies can use to build their strategy, develop innovations to guide their business roadmap and drive digital transformation.

The right IoT platform allows businesses to tie their data to a location with a map. This offers a number of benefits and gives the organization new ways to utilize the power of their devices including:

  1. Inventory accuracy
  2. Operational efficiency
  3. Increased control and visibility
  4. Enabled automation
  5. Enhanced data

In fact, the use of data is specifically where the IoT and the digital workplace interface, argues Sandra Krief, vice president of B2B channel management and carrier sales at Samsung Electronics America now that there are so many companies using the term IoT in so many different ways that it's starting to lose its meaning. “At its core, IoT is powered by smart devices that use sensors that gather data from the outside world. These devices then learn something from that data, and then communicate what they find seamlessly across an endless network of other devices,” she said.

Related Article:  7 Big Problems with the Internet of Things

Her vision of the future digital workplace centers around connected products and connected business processes. For Samsung, as one of the major device developers working in the IoT, this means connected devices delivering better user experiences and on the process side, IoT will improve operations and enable business owners to transform markets by competitively differentiating their products and services. The future of the IoT will be focused on three themes:

1. Human centered

The future will be defined by seamless connections that overcome barriers-connections that ensure your data isn't just smart, but getting smarter all the time.

2. Open

Technology will be more than just connective, it should just connect seamlessly and without friction. Tomorrow's devices should never make you feel like you're setting up your old VCR.

3. Collaborative

From highway infrastructure to the electrical grid, to hospitals, to schools, almost everything can be made better, more useful and more efficient with smart technology smartly applied. Out of an unprecedented wave of big data, we want to build meaningful, profoundly secure solutions on the most granular level.

Related Article: 7 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Reinventing Human Resources

Creating Physical Workplaces

However, new technologies are not only shifting the norms surrounding what work we do, they are also fundamentally changing the landscape of the places where we work and the way we interact with them. Employees’ experiences are being drastically altered by the increasing number of smart buildings harnessing the power of location-aware technologies, Jibestream CEO and co-founder Chris Wiegand said. “By using indoor mapping and positioning technologies with open architectures, leading workplaces are using IoT to implement innovative use cases to remove friction and create smart, innovative and connected workplaces,” he said.

In a corporate campus environment, indoor mapping and location technologies can help to streamline a variety of everyday processes and eliminate many common frustrations. From checking the status of a given meeting room or workspace and reserving it to checking the status and location of equipment or resources in a building, having visual context of a space and its assets significantly enhances one's ability to use this information.

Automating Processes Using IoT

It’s not just the physical workplace, or digital workplace location that is being changed by IoT, it is how processes are managed and, in many cases, automated. From operations and processes to customers and outcomes, IoT-enabled solutions have transformed businesses from every angle and will continue to do so.

Connected devices have allowed teams to be better equipped with faster and more efficient solutions and to be more productive in the digital workplace. “With the addition of IoT, there’s an opportunity to significantly minimize and assess wasted resources across a myriad of industries and gain more timely insight into team workflows,” said Ben Wald, co-founder and VP of solutions implementation at Very.

Adoption of connected, non-smartphone devices have accelerated, greatly increasing the volume of data that’s available for companies to analyze. Combined with AI advances, faster processors and wireless networks, and decreasing costs, high-quality voice control of devices will become even more prevalent. Use of these devices is critical, as it can foster more collaboration and innovation in the workplace of the future.

Running in tandem with this will be changes to the network infrastructure of IoT. As businesses enable IoT solutions, they will need to align their network infrastructure and analytics capabilities. That means the role of IoT application developers will be elevated, particularly as the variety of IoT-enabled devices expands and enterprises continue to transform their operations by using connected assets to capture data.

“Organizations must transform the huge volumes of data they gather into actionable insights; depending on the industry, those insights can either enhance real-time business operations (think security and manufacturing) or provide customers with personalized experiences (think retail and hospitality),” Wald said.

By having connected devices incorporated into the future workplace, it will enhance access, track workers’ productivity and create boundless features for tenants. This can eventually include on-demand access for food or package delivery, elevator operation and badging — all from an app.

Keeping Track of Data

To manage all this, many enterprises are turning to analytics and, in particular, analytics that have the ability to anaylze IoT deployments, how IoT devices are being used and the security of endpoints. There is no shortage of offerings to do this, but increasingly, vendors are offering analytics packages that are designed specifically for IoT.

Only recently, for example, Software AG released Apama Analytics Builder to reduce the time it takes to design, develop and deploy analytics for IoT applications. Analytics Builder gives engineers, and other domain experts working on the IoT Edge, a web-based capability to develop analytic applications on streamed data, test them with simulated or live data and deploy them immediately with a single click for the real-time processing of machine data and events. The objective here is to take pressure off IT departments that are already struggling to keep IoT appliances in the enterprises safe and secure.

Analytics Builder removes the typical bottlenecks hindering the rapid development and deployment of streaming analytic applications. “By allowing operators and domain experts to directly develop their own analytic applications we are taking a huge amount of pressure off the IT department and empowering decentralized teams to accelerate their delivery schedules,” Dr. Stefan Sigg, chief product officer of Software AG, said in a statement.

"Bringing operational expertise directly to application development significantly reduces the risk of misunderstandings and enables operators to immediately address unexpected events and situations.”

Businesses are unlocking the value of IoT data. Companies are creating an environment in which new business models will emerge, along with changes in work processes, productivity improvements, cost containment and enhanced customer experiences. To unlock this value requires new approaches to gather, analyze and correlate the data in the digital workplace. IoT and smart devices will continue to become more important, particularly as most enterprises are in the process of evaluating how IoT will affect their organization and how to minimize the disruption it will cause to digital workplaces.