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Mar 14

We are living in the information age. As a result, our ability to manufacture technology and machines that far surpass our own abilities has never been stronger. Words such as “artificial intelligence”, “machine learning”, “augmented reality”, “automation” and “Internet of Things” are a mainstream on technology and innovation blogs. More and more of these buzzwords are finding their way into workplace discourse and we have written extensively about the impact of AI on the world of work. However, what do some of these words actually mean? In our latest newsletter we explore what is the “Internet of Things” and what does it mean for the world of work?

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined by Tech Target as “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction”. The concept of IoT has been around since the 1970s when the first cashpoints/ATMS were introduced and it is expected that by 2020, the Internet of Things will consist of 30 billion devices worldwide.

An important pillar of IoT is pervasive or ubiquitous computing. The goal of pervasive computing is to make devices “smart” and it refers to the computational capabilities embedded into objects in the form of microprocessors. These enable independent communication between objects constituent of continuously collecting, processing and sending data anywhere, at any time and in numerous (or any) formats across any given network.

IoT is used in regular consumer applications (e.g. the smart home), in the media, manufacturing, agriculture, energy management, environmental monitoring, automation, transportation and medical services. An excellent example of IoT is the smart home. The key drivers in smart home adoption are home security, energy efficiency, entertainment, convenience/ productivity and health monitoring. However, the ambition of the IoT extends to concepts as large as smart cities, while institutions such as the UK’s National Health Service hope to become more efficient, effective and affordable by utilising the IoT. For market research, the IoT is becoming far more relevant, as wearable gadgets and other objects collect huge amounts of data which can be used to better understand people’s needs and behaviours.

How will the IoT impact your work?

As with most new technologies, IoT will increase the speed at which people can do work. Large scale projects can be undertaken in a reduced amount of time and with fewer mistakes. From the perspective of managers and project leaders, a centralised system (e.g. such as Dropbox) that connects lots of devices together means tasks, documents and results can be managed and monitored. IoT has and will continue to increase the efficiency of the way we work.

This connectivity between machines was at first considered to isolate people, but now many think the opposite is true. There has been an increase in workplace collaboration due to the ability to connect with geographically dispersed teams. This could be people in different office spaces, different cities, agile workers or people across the world. The same applications could be applied to clients and customers who are now more connected than ever to the businesses that serve them.

If you didn’t get the chance, you can read our full report about AI titled “Collaborative Cognition: When Human and Machine Intelligence Combine” here.

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