Stories around applications for the Internet of Things tend to favor the grandiose. However, the IoT provides plenty of down-to-earth applications that can make our everyday work lives more efficient and enjoyable.
I recently had a conversation with a local Cincinnati-based startup, Losant, about smart conference rooms. Although the company provides an enterprise platform that delivers device management, real-time data collection and visualization, it also provides smart conference room solutions. As a veteran office worker, these IoT solutions solve real workplace challenges such as conference room assignments, rapid IT device/app setup and attendance monitoring. How many times have you walked into a conference room and waited for the IT devices, like GoToMeeting, to launch and connect? Or how frustrating is it to find an open conference room? Even in small businesses, these are real-world challenges that the IoT can easily solve.
Beyond smart conference rooms though, the IoT in the workplace, per www.zdnet.com involves three main categories
(1) Workplace infrastructure
(2) Repurposed smart home devices
(3) Business-specific IoT devices
An example of IoT workplace infrastructure is building management systems to control heating, air conditioning, doors, office security and alarm systems. Smart infrastructure can enable simple adjustments to heating and cooling systems based on room attendance, weather conditions and even length or type of a meeting (e.g. long presentations could require a colder room to keep people awake!)
Repurposed smart home devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, can provide office management like ordering office supplies, turning on lights and even simple tasks like ordering pizza for lunch after the company-wide all-hands meeting. My office manager hated the time it took to order lunch for our all-hands meetings.
The last component, business-specific IoT devices, could present a much-needed relief for non-technical business professionals. Connected and smart devices ranging from large-screen displays and video-conferencing to even smart desks can help automate and monitor work-related activities to provide convenience for busy workers.
Many of these IoT workplace solutions offer tremendous benefits for employees. Rather than ping-pong and foosball tables adorning offices, how about leveraging the IoT to create convenience and efficiency for the everyday nuisances that frustrate all employees? Sounds like a great use case for the IoT and a fantastic way to drive employee engagement and “happiness” for the human resource innovators!