Already, most of us live in smart houses surrounded by smart devices. While not everyone has the tech to order groceries with a voice command – though the technology certainly exists – everyone does have at least a few smart gadgets to make life easier. Smartphones, smart watches, smart speakers, and more have permeated our lives – and they will soon permeate our work.
Workplaces stand to benefit from the introduction of smart devices, but there are also significant dangers associated with the Internet of Things (IoT). When reliable estimates expect 1 trillion devices with network connections in use by 2025, business leaders need to start thinking about how IoT tech will work within and around their companies.
How the IoT Helps Business
The Internet of Things isn’t just a collection of novelty gadgets that waste time and money. Most smart devices are designed to solve problems – including work-related problems. Therefore, equipping workers with devices that might increase their efficiency and improve their productivity is an easy way for businesses to gain an edge in the market.
Like homes, workplaces can be automated to optimize energy usage and predict inhabitants’ needs. Intelligent lighting can remember when the workday starts and ends; smart thermostats can pay attention to when workers like it cooler and warmer; and smart appliances can keep track of which stuff is where and when the basics need to be reordered. All of these seemingly simple tasks allow workers to keep their thoughts on their work-related responsibilities rather than meaningless concerns over their workplace environment.
There are dozens of IoT technologies that are built with office environments in mind. Wearable health trackers help largely sedentary workers stay active and healthy, helping keep them productive in the workplace. Connected security systems alert appropriate personnel when unanticipated visitors arrive, making talentless office greeters obsolete. Perhaps the most visionary of all is the Ava 500, a video collaboration robot that allows workers to explore remote offices through a screen. All of these products are beneficial to businesses and workers alike.
Further, tech experts imagine a not-too-distant future when smart devices will communicate detailed information about individual workers. Using information from a calendar as well as data regarding location and attire, smart devices might be able to recognize that workers are preparing for important meetings, for example, and alter the work schedule or environmental factors accordingly. Workers might no longer waste time with frivolous activities like ordering coffee, unlocking doors and devices, or even inputting directions to an unknown location; the IOT could do that for them automatically. Investing in IoT tech now could pay off substantially in the future.
How the IoT Hurts Workers
Then again, there are downsides to the IoT. Despite the wonders produced by smart devices, the tech is still relatively new – and exceedingly insecure. Already, the web abounds with horror stories about hacked devices behaving inappropriately and worse: giving cybercriminals access to sensitive networks. Should in-office IoT devices fall under attack, they could expose the business, its employees, and its customers to extreme dangers. The most likely risk is fraud, but examples of malware taking control of physical machines warn of much greater threat, like bodily injury or death.
Therefore, businesses that want to introduce smart devices to their workplaces should do so only with proper IoT security precautions in place. Here are a few tips to keep organizations safe while integrating the IoT:big dat
- Choose IoT devices carefully. Some smart device manufacturers are much more concerned about security than others. Businesses should research IoT developers and permit the usage of only those devices that meet top security standards.
- Understand and manage IoT devices. Many smart devices are designed to move, which means workplaces might see devices come and go. It is vital that organizations understand the purpose of various devices and be aware of where devices travel.
- Take advantage of data. Businesses should know what data IoT devices have access to and what data they produce. They should know where the data goes and who uses it regularly. Not only will this help IoT devices be even more effective in the workplace, but it will also keep business safer.
- Use professional IoT services. Many in-house IT departments aren’t well-equipped to handle IoT networks. Organizations should be certain their smart devices are professionally installed and maintained since IoT devices will require updates at least as frequently as other tech.