The Internet of Things (IoT) is, depending on whom you ask, already here, still in its formative stages, just a buzzword or vastly overhyped. But suffice to say, however you want to define IoT, it is a paradigm shift and its developing influence and import are undeniable. According to market researcher IDC, already more than 50 percent of IoT activity is centered in manufacturing, transportation, smart city, and consumer applications, but within five years all industries will have introduced IoT initiatives.
This one prediction alone has considerable implications for the enterprise space. As part of this shift, I expect corporations will create tightly integrated IoT conversations between their respective devices generating data, information and knowledge that the corporation then would leverage to create greater value for the customer, enterprise and shareholder. What’s so fascinating to me about IoT is its application and implication to the Unified Communications and Collaboration industry.
Within our industry, the interest lies in the collaboration aspects associated with conversations that incorporate devices creating machine-to-human and machine-to-machine conversations. With IoT, there is the ability to add considerably more intelligence and context to conversations. In thinking about this, I am also incorporating the ideas of Alex “Sandy” Pentland at MIT’s Media Lab, who has written a great deal about how to establish and measure successful communications and to which I would add collaboration as well. There are three metrics: exploration, engagement and energy, all of which are influenced by IoT and its adoption.
Exploration is interacting with the many different social groups, projects or conversations that are outside of your normal scope. Engagement is comprised of the interactions you have within your normal project teams and social groups. Energy is defined as the number of overall interactions. What IoT will do is vastly increase the amount of information and data generated for a particular conversation or collaborative experience or activity. This, predictably, will in turn amplify the energy associated with that conversation.
So, what’s so exciting about IoT and its impact on how we work and on the New Way to Work is also what makes it rather frightening. There will be this onslaught of information coming at human beings during the course of these communication and collaborative experiences that could overwhelm us. The energy of these conversations could simply be too much and the whole concept of collaboration would be bowled over. Because of this, a fundamental question we must answer is how do we manage all of this, and what are the processes, technologies, and habits we must define or introduce with the advent of IoT.
How we manage through these challenges from a productivity perspective is key, of course, yet so are the privacy considerations and requirements associated with IoT and communication and collaboration. Not only will we need to have in place the right tools and technologies to filter out the noise from all this messaging that will be associated with IoT, the Internet of Things will also explode the concept of big data and require us to establish privacy and security protocols (not just technological, but cultural as well). As a quick example, despite the adoption of wearable fitness monitors, we do not generally consider whether we want our heart rate to be publicly available.
From a collaboration and unified communications perspective, if we view the world through the lens where every contact with a customer is a conversation, and if we are collaborating in the conversations and bringing IoT into the mix, then we must have cultural protocols in place so people are not scared off by the perception of privacy concerns. In the end, it is the ability to keep collaboration technology and architectures open and thereby allow IoT-enabled devices to participate in collaborative conversations that could end up being the next wave of technology hurdles in the UC and Collaboration space that we must overcome.
What do you think of the intersection of IoT and the New Way to Work and its implications for our industry?
This blog first appeared on LinkedIn.