Sometimes I get nostalgic about overhead projectors.
The teacher would turn off the lights, turn on the projector, take out a transparency and a dry-erase marker and begin a lecture. The overhead projector was simple technology that was an essential part of the classroom through the 1990s. Fun fact: 3M, inventor of Scotch Tape and Post-it Notes, was one of the biggest sellers of overhead projectors.
3M stopped selling overhead projectors in 2015 after more than 50 years. They were lapped by a wave of more sophisticated digital devices that ushered in a new era of creativity and collaboration.
The explosion of internet-connected devices, though, has put a strain on business’ technology infrastructure. Tech managers face challenges in dealing with the avalanche of data, having enough bandwidth, managing a multitude of applications and making sure their networks are secure, reliable and scalable. These internet-connected devices need to be centrally monitored and managed in order to deploy them in a scalable way.
To manage these issues, companies — from startups to multinationals — are increasingly turning to the cloud. As Amazon’s Jeff Bezos likes to say, the cloud is “providing all of us with unbelievable opportunities to reinvent our business, add new customer experiences, redeploy capital to fuel growth, increase security and do all of this so much faster than before.”
As cloud computing keeps growing and growing, every company selling equipment to companies to put in their data centers is feeling pressure to adapt. Moving your management infrastructure to the cloud greatly simplifies application management, network design and deployment, as well as data collection and retention. Even seemingly simple devices like AV, lighting and HVAC components benefit from management in the cloud.
Deploy and manage
A cloud application provides tech managers with a centralized tool that enables them to install and manage thousands of devices in the same amount of time as it would to manage just one. Installation time can be reduced by up to 90% because devices can be simultaneously configured as a group before they are shipped to separate locations to be plugged in.
Cloud-based systems are also more efficient to manage when scaling beyond a handful of devices. Rather than having to manage multiple individual devices, each with its own firmware updates and critical security patches, the entire system is managed and updated remotely through a single portal.
Security fixes are installed in minutes, not days. Devices can be moved or replaced, and all the settings are automatically uploaded. Dispatching a programmer to the site? A thing of the past.
With the virtualized network, system administrators can check all the equipment at a glance, even on the go. Problems are quickly detected and can be resolved remotely by the help desk, leading to fewer disruptions. The central monitoring makes conference rooms and boardrooms more reliable and efficient because the devices are always working. That gives people using the rooms peace of mind.
Measure and analyze
With so many devices transmitting data today, just about everything can be measured. How often is the room being used? How often is the video conferencing being used and for how long? A cloud application puts all the data at your fingertips. How do you know if you made a good spending decision if you don’t know how much your equipment is being used? When you can track that, you can get a better idea of whether you’re making the right decisions. This kind of intelligence also is a good planning tool. It allows companies to design spaces and technology around the people that use them.
As we all know, the increasing sophistication of our workplaces has also created more opportunities for chaos. Your laptop won’t connect to Wi-Fi when it’s not docked. The presentation on your iPad won’t sync with the flat-screen TV in the conference room. The video on your videoconference is fuzzy. And the audio is a few seconds behind.
The internet of things and cloud computing can create order out of the chaos. Over three-quarters (78%) of enterprises say the introduction of IoT into the workplace has improved the effectiveness of their IT team, while 75% find it has increased profitability. The creation of a smart office means integrating individual elements, collecting data from them and repurposing it to make the working space — and the people in it — more productive.
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