Internet of Things technology is on the rise both at home and in the workplace, and will soon significantly impact and empower the way we live and work, writes Neil Bramley, B2B Client Solutions Business Unit Director, Toshiba Northern Europe
IoT solutions have arguably made a bigger splash in the consumer landscape than B2B to date, with connected fridges, cars and thermostats all resonating with the public.
The case for introducing IoT into the workplace is gaining in strength though, with solutions providers continuing to innovate and push the boundaries of what such technologies can achieve. The whole concept of IoT is that it can be anything organisations want and need it to be – all it takes is the right app or piece of code to be built around it. At this stage in its adoption though, many IT managers don’t necessarily understand the potential of IoT, while fears around data and network security persist, particularly in the wake of last year’s global cyber-attacks. However, such concerns aren’t projected to hold the market back for long, with IDC research predicting that global spending on IoT technologies is forecast to reach nearly $1.4 trillion by 2021.
The scope of IoT solutions is evolving to fuel this demand. Whereas stationary M2M solutions, such as sensors, kick-started the connected device market and remain popular, mobile IoT solutions provide vast opportunities across numerous sectors – helping to improve workflows, enhance interactions with staff and customers, and even improve the safety of workers. Key to this development is the introduction of peripherals to the workplace, which can be partnered with mobile gateway solutions to ensure cross-machine collaboration.
One natural example lies within the healthcare sector, where – from a consumer perspective – the fitness device market is already reaching a point of saturation. Looking at this from a professional angle, similar devices can be used to help doctors manage wellness rather than illness – with healthcare data being transmitted in real-time whether the ‘patient’ is at home or in hospital, medical professionals can continuously monitor vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure, ensuring predictive diagnosis and the introduction of preventative measures at the earliest possible stage.
Elsewhere, peripherals like smart glasses (wearable display technology) can ensure a hands-free solution to workers across a range of roles – from oil rig workers to utility services. The manufacturing sector is one in which M2M already figures heavily – for example, machines on the production line can engage with one another so that, in case of a malfunction in one area, other machines are notified and can shutdown safely while the fault is attended to. Yet the ability to take this further through mobile IoT solutions can help companies to improve efficiency elsewhere – take for example a warehouse employee benefiting from smart glasses, ensuring they can scan products hands-free and more safely (and accurately) manage logistics.
Beyond the devices themselves, operating systems will also play a crucial role in the progression of IoT in the professional world. Currently the focus is very much on writing software for iOS and Android – a smartphone-onus which again signifies the advanced stage of the consumer market. Yet the natural progression is for solutions providers to expand their focus to incorporate Windows 10 – this will serve as a catalyst in creating a greater number of solutions designed for professional use, which in turn will inspire more companies to turn their attention to developing IoT coding and apps to address different business needs.
It is only a matter of time until IoT becomes a major enabler for organisations across a number of sectors – with such game-changing potential, it’s important for IT managers to get ahead of the curve to understand how these technologies can empower their business.
About the author
Neil Bramley has worked for Toshiba for over 22 years, currently serving as B2B Client Solutions Business Unit Director, Northern Europe. He is responsible for the B2B PC and Solutions business in Northern Europe for both Partners and Clients across all Business Market Sectors, ensuring success commercially and organisationally, and, importantly, that the customer needs of today and tomorrow are met in the most effective manner.
With over 30 years’ experience in the IT industry, Neil previously worked at both Reseller and Distribution organisations where he attained an in-depth knowledge of Partner Businesses and onward service delivery to clients. Since 1995, Neil’s career at Toshiba has included work with Corporate, Public Sector and SMB organisations, as well as Channel Reseller and Distributor Partners and associated Business Management.