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Marrying IoT with communications and collaboration

The growth and prominence of the internet of things and digital transformation is undeniable. In fact, recent reports predict 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use globally by the end of 2017 — up 31% from last year, and eventually reaching 20.4 billion devices by 2020. Companies worldwide in every industry, from manufacturing and transportation to hospitality and education, are realizing the importance of integrating powerful, connected communications tools with IoT. Moreover, companies also need to juggle their existing investments as they ramp up these advanced capabilities, both internally and with customers, if they want to remain agile and efficient during the transition.

Giving machines a voice — enabling them to detect, analyze and communicate information — by integrating IoT systems with communications and collaboration tools can help companies across all industries best enhance their own digital transformation. This integration provides many opportunities for enterprises to become more flexible and productive as they start to deploy IoT to their customers.

Reduce response times, enhance customer experience

Integrating devices and data with analytical IoT platforms and communications and collaboration capabilities enables organizations to become more responsive and improve their customer service experiences. This convergence is helping give machines a voice and transforming the way workflows can occur in an organization; by connecting employees to certain triggers and ensuring the right escalation occurs, this provides a more educated and efficient response to the needs of the environment.

The process involves three distinct steps: detecting, analyzing and communicating. First, middleware is used to gather vast amounts of sensor data, which are then organized and analyzed, triggering the right workflow and appropriate means of communication to improve operations.

One example of this lies in emergency systems at university campuses using smart communications to be reactive to student needs. Historically, panic buttons and other emergency systems have been comprised of analog, one-way interactions, which is not helpful when assessing need. However, with IoT and connected wireless environments, universities can deploy smart panic buttons powered with voice, video and location services — enhancing the way they assess and respond to each call. The use of real-time communications not only improves safety, but also services overall.

Reactive to predictive decision-making

In addition to speeding up response times and improving customer experience, the interaction of IoT with communications and collaboration capabilities will enhance the decision-making process for enterprises. Organizations are now able to collect information from sensors that was once unavailable, bringing life to the saying “if you can measure it, you can manage it.” Decisions based on insights from data collected enable organizations to drive out waste by reducing costs and contributing to their bottom line as well. The next level of more informed decision-making is emerging thanks to the marriage of IoT and unified communications, by providing predictive, proactive actions versus reactive decisions. Through predictive analytics, sensor data can help organizations better foresee outcomes or issues and address them before they even occur.

Take manufacturing plants, for example. Real-time logistics powered by IoT can help manufacturers better respond to interruption in operations by notifying all engaged communities. Changes can also be made easily to the workforce, in terms of scheduling and other important logistics, such as adjusting driver pickup and delivery times. If sensor data is being analyzed in real time, manufacturers can also better predict downtime and make critical business decisions accordingly. Meanwhile, connected communications and collaboration systems can ensure the right information gets transmitted to the right communities in the most efficient manner.

I now pronounce you…

IoT connectivity continues to permeate organizations globally and across all industries, yielding a wealth of actionable data. The convergence of IoT with communications and collaboration will help enterprises improve response time and customer experience, as well as enable more informed and predictive decision-making. It is an exciting time to see the early results of this marriage across industries driving greater flexibility and productivity, and even more exciting to imagine the opportunities ahead.

All IoT Agenda network contributors are responsible for the content and accuracy of their posts. Opinions are of the writers and do not necessarily convey the thoughts of IoT Agenda.