Many of us may feel well-versed on the Internet of Things (IoT) by now. We’ve experienced an avalanche of information about this technology in recent years, including how it’s going to change all of our lives. But regardless of what we already know, the IoT grows more complex every day. Its advancing capabilities are changing the business world in both big ways and small.
Now that we’re on the verge of an all-connected world, companies will need to embrace this technology in order to stay successful. And that’s not a bad thing.
Here’s where businesses can expect the IoT to take them in the coming years and beyond.
A Smarter Organization
The IoT is mostly about sensors that record and relay important information back to the cloud for easy access. And the best news is that they can be applied to everything from worker gear to coffee cups. Businesses looking for quick and unlimited access to product usage data, equipment updates or customer feedback can get it whenever they’d like.
A Safer Organization
Think of the IoT as a watchdog that’s constantly looking for red flags. This technology can easily track employees’ whereabouts and actions in the workplace or at a jobsite. If that sounds too Big Brother to you, remember what it can mean for a person’s safety. According to IBM, the rise of wearable technology is making workers vastly safer from falls, heat stress, machine incidents and more. These “connected workers” are equipped with embedded sensors that make it easier for businesses to monitor employee health and safety.
Most incidents can be prevented with a simple transmission through a worker’s helmet or wristband. An employer who notices that an employee hasn’t moved for an extended time can take immediate action to ensure that person is not injured or worse. New sensor technology can also help monitor worker surroundings. Gas, noise and radiation levels are just some environmental factors that employers can assess to ensure continued safety.
A More Productive Organization
The IoT is a great mediator for businesses looking to improve worker productivity. Its purpose is really to empower people, not things. A single device could soon act on a person’s behalf based on his or her schedule, preferences, and purchasing habits. It also might be time to say goodbye to manual data entry. Having more connected devices will allow people to focus on more productive tasks and do more with data than simply enter it.
We should also be prepared to see major changes in how we meet. Thanks to the crafty hands at Cisco, new advancements are underway that will take videoconferencing to the next level. Instead of using stationary cameras, you might soon get the full experience of a site visit or remote business meeting without physically being there. Pre-based robots could take you on a facility tour or allow you to meet people at the site — all while you enjoy the comforts of your office or home.
Rise of Machine-to-Machine Technology
Not everyone is ready or willing to welcome more technology into their businesses, homes or daily routines. Many of these concerns may be warranted, but they won’t slow down the future. Businesses should instead try to see beyond potential setbacks and focus on the many positives of this technology. There’s no doubting the IoT is capable of making businesses smarter, safer and more productive.
If that’s not convincing enough, keep in mind that 25 billion smart devices are expected to abound by 2020. Another projection estimates one trillion devices by 2025. Some even believe that their impact is putting us on the cusp of the next Industrial Revolution. If that doesn’t inspire you to take action, perhaps nothing will.
Times are changing in manufacturing. The Internet of Things has made its way to the industry and spawned a new term in the process: Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Smart factories are becoming more popular (and expected) thanks to the ability to connect key technologies. Manufacturers who haven’t followed suit yet are encouraged to get moving.
In some industries, things are relatively stable from year to year. While manufacturing was done in much the same way for many years, emerging trends promise to change that. An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) must be resourceful and search for opportunities to stay competitive in an increasingly volatile market. While there may be challenges ahead, applying industry best practices will help any manufacturer operate at the top of their game.
Step outside and you’ll notice that the air is brisk and people are bundled up in coats. Winter is upon us. And while that brings festive parties and holiday deals, winter means extra strains on wire and cable. Cold temperatures and atmospheric changes that come with winter weather can impact the effectiveness of some cabling materials. Prepare for cool weather and winter storms to ensure uninterrupted operation that’s reliable every day of the year.
Article originally published Sept. 2, 2016, and updated for accuracy and relevance.
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