The entire world is fighting the infectious coronavirus at the moment. It has impacted all spheres of human lives on our planet. It has taken millions of lives, crashed the economies, and pushed hundreds of millions of people into poverty across the world. It is due to the covid-19 that extreme poverty is set to increase for the first time in about 20 years, said the world bank.
The compounded disruptions of the pandemic are horrendous. As the world continues to fight the virus tooth and nail, businesses throughout the globe look for innovative technologies to make themselves digital-ready for combating the pandemic. Remote working has been adopted at an unimaginable scale across the world for ensuring business continuity. Technologies like the Internet of Things have emerged as a true business savior during this dreadful situation.
Remote Working and IoT
If not for remote working, we can’t even imagine what dreadful situation the world would have been pushed to. While remote work did save a lot of business amidst the pandemic, it would not have been possible without the contemporary technologies supporting the remote working capabilities at such an enormous scale. Technologies such as cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence(AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) have protected millions of organizations across the globe.
The covid-19 pandemic has presented record growth opportunities for technologies including the Internet of Things. The global IoT market is set to attain a value of $243 billion by 2023 from $150 billion in 2019. The market, amidst the pandemic, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.7 percent through the period.
The Internet of Things is helping organizations adapt to new working practices quickly amidst the pandemic. Businesses are utilizing IoT from driving innovations to supporting business continuity. Vodafone recently surveyed more than 1600 businesses for analyzing the positive impact of the Internet of Things during the covid-19. The following are the highlights of the survey:
- About 84 percent of the respondents are utilizing IoT to inherently boost their environmental sustainability.
- 73 percent of the businesses have witnessed significantly improved business productivity as a return to their mature investments in IoT.
- An impressive 84 percent of the surveyed companies feel IoT has helped them ensure business continuity during the pandemic.
- About 87 percent of the respondents view IoT as a future-proofing technology that is critical to their success in the future.
The global remote work could continue even after the pandemic diminishes. This presents further opportunities for technologies like IoT and AI to empower businesses in this new normal.
How Does IoT Support Remote Work?
The Internet of Things offers advanced remote monitoring solutions that help businesses ensure smooth operations from remote locations. With IoT, business professionals are able to perform their tasks from distributed locations. Let’s look at what IoT specifically brings for various sectors.
- Industrial Sector
Advanced IoT devices and sensors are capable of determining when would a particular part of a machine will require repair and maintenance. It helps to indicate machine downtimes and prepare employees to take appropriate actions to maintain productivity from remote locations. Industrial IoT-connected devices provide live data on the overall situation and indicate malfunctions by recognizing vibrations. This eliminates the requirement of deploying employees to real locations for inspections.
- Healthcare Industry
The healthcare industry is utilizing IoT-enabled RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring) to track a patient’s conditions remotely. With the live data updates provided by the IoT devices, healthcare professionals and physicians are capable of making quick diagnoses related decisions. They can even detect worsening conditions of a patient earlier.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) provided patients with RPM devices and tablets at their homes for remote monitoring. This resulted in a 76 percent reduction in hospital readmission risk, while also maintaining patient satisfaction scores of above 90 percent.
It is an important result that reiterates how IoT is capable of supporting remote work. It reduces the requirement of healthcare professionals and caregivers to be physically present with patients for responding to their needs.
No wonder 79 percent of the healthcare professionals surveyed in a Gartner survey confirmed they are utilizing IoT for their production processes.
- Supply Chain and Logistics
In the logistics and supply chain sector, people are taking advantage of IoT devices for remote tracking of their assets, while they move across the supply chain. It eliminates the requirements of manual data recording by the employees for asset inspection.
All facets of supply chain and logistics including asset location, temperature, container integrity, tampering, etcetera are provided by the IoT-enabled devices. It helps companies take proactive measures to avert asset damages while effectively monitoring it from a remote location.
The data generated by the IoT-powered devices can be further analyzed by incorporating modern AI algorithms. This not only helps businesses make informed, data-backed decisions but also enables them to create additional revenue streams. It makes organizations highly agile and makes them capable of preempting and predicting future business scenarios.
IoT is Reducing the Physical-Digital Divide
Employees having tasks that involve interactions with systems and devices in the real world like wind farms, factories, refineries, water systems, etcetera, face extra challenges in obtaining a clear sight of what actually is happening. IoT enables such workers to remotely observe these operations and gain enhanced visibility of the processes. It not only improves the efficiency of their job but also keeps them safe and protected from hazardous environments.
Thanks to IoT, present-day workers and employees have to no longer travel to different locations. It reduces the time spent per location by a significant amount. They can even leverage a single instrument throughout their IoT solutions to deploy updates and the latest applications on an enterprise-level. They don’t have to do it separately in all different locations. It brings great convenience and sophistication into their jobs.
Thus, IoT goes a long way in shrinking the physical-digital gap in modern times. Innovative IoT solutions for homes are being introduced regularly. They enable real-time interactions with devices and continuously aim at narrowing the gap between a physical and virtual experience.
IoT Streamlines Work Processes
Advanced IoT solutions gained huge popularity amidst the lockdown for streamlining remote work. It also enabled efficient cooperation between distributed teams. AI-enabled, smart voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Home became essential tools to help employees streamlining their tasks. From creating to-do lists and reminders to making payments, taking meeting notes, and arranging calls, these sophisticated IoT devices effectively managed various time-consuming organizational tasks, letting employees focus on other important tasks.
Remote working employees are also incorporating IoT-wired conferencing tools for productive collaboration. These tools automatically shift the focus on the person speaking at that particular moment. They utilize smart cameras and intelligent voice recognition algorithms for creating such a conducive participation effect during conferences or meetings. Today, the employees have access to interactive whiteboards that enable them to wirelessly share presentations and documents with other participants while also allowing the participants to live-edit the shared files.
Moreover, a lot of people are looking at the Internet of Things in general. They are moving towards lifestyle and home IoT solutions to make their workplaces more sophisticated and convenient. People are attempting to promote productivity around them by using IoT-powered air conditioners, thermostats, light bulbs, and other HVAC devices.
People are also utilizing IoT-enabled, smart, and personalized fitness devices for ensuring the health and well being. These devices encourage people to stand up, walk around, and perform at-home exercises while also tracking their health and fitness activity information for recommending personalized activities.
IoT Recognizes and Addresses the Shortcomings of AI Assistants
While the modern AI-powered voice assistants like Alexa and Siri are beneficial in our day to day life, they certainly fall short when it comes to their corporate applications. Some AI assistants do not integrate fluently with business suites. Therefore, they are not able to manage automated scheduling and other calendar tasks linked with an enterprise application. In most cases, it is because of the security measures in place. However, there are APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that can link these assistants with enterprise software without violating the security measures.
What makes AI assistants fit for managing scheduling is their ability to create a bridge between schedules. It is one of the greatest ways to optimize efficiency in a remote work scenario where one or two employees work together. However, it is not feasible in office setups where dozens of workers work together.
AI-powered assistants, contrary to the general belief, are a lot more than just a reminder tool. They can manage conference calls, organize events, and schedule meetings.
Balancing Productivity and Security for IoT
While the assistance, communication, and integration tools enhance business productivity, they do increase security concerns too. Ensuring security and compliance is an overwhelming task for any organization’s IT team. Add the complexity of thousands of employees working remotely from their respective locations and the situation becomes completely daunting.
For corroborating privacy and security in these challenging times, the IT teams have to hobble through some of the most sophisticated tools. As more and more organizations look to invest in the promising IoT devices and solutions, it is paramount for them to simultaneously put in place a robust security strategy to avoid any sort of breach into their critical business data. It is even more important in the current remote working scenario.
Yes, the Internet of Things does power the remote working culture that the entire world has been pushed to by the novel coronavirus. There are numerous other long-term benefits of incorporating the latest IoT-enabled devices as well. The only concern for businesses looking to invest in IoT is security and compliance. This too can be taken care of, provided an organization doesn’t just blindly follow the trend. Incorporating accurate security measures can help it achieve great business productivity while also remain immune to the ubiquitous security threats.
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