Smart technologies are present in every sphere of our life, and business one is not an exception. And while more and more technologies and devices appear each year, the vast majority of offices are still not smart enough. Unfortunately a conservative organization of the working space influences the productivity of the company, and steals precious time that could have been spent on more useful things than coping with routine issues.
So is there any way to make offices smarter and better? Can you actually change your working environment and make it more progressive and futuristic? Sure thing, but only if you use Internet of Things (IoT) technology. It’s all about automation these days, and IoT development grants a chance to benefit from that automation trend.
Smart assistants, security systems. various devices, sensors and applications can help you forget about routine tasks, ensure data safety, cut energy consumption and costs in your office, establish a strong interconnection between all employees and devices used in your company. And these are not all great advantages that IoT implementation offers.
In this article we will discuss what IoT is, how you can make use of it in your office, what solutions are a must-have, and how to develop your own custom ones powered by smart technologies.
What is a smart IoT office?
Smart office is a place equipped with the latest technology and devices that let people work faster, better and smarter. Such space is not just a new trend, it’s a great modern way of thinking that brings a diversity of opportunities. Thanks to IoT it is possible to do so many things that earlier were considered to be a futuristic tale. Here are just a few examples of what you can do in your office if you have IoT solutions:
- Adjust the humidity and heating in your office by using a smartphone.
- Use a smart scheduling system to never experience issues with booking a conference room.
- Benefit from smart sensors that will turn lightning and devices off when no one is in the office and make your company more energy efficient.
- Improve your security system by refusing from the old approach and passcodes and replacing them with smart locks and security cameras.
- Clean your space during the lunch break thanks to smart vacuum and window cleaners that can be managed from a device.
And now let’s take a look at the statistic that speaks louder than words and proves that smart IoT technologies are at the peak of their glory. Let’s take a look at the table provided by the Statista that shows the number of IoT devices used worldwide.
This tendency shows that more and more companies and households are going to adopt IoT technology and invest in smart projects. And this is not just because it is convenient to make everything connected and control it from a distance, the IoT adoption has way more benefits like:
- Decreased operational costs,
- Improved productivity,
- New business opportunities,
- Huge competitive advantage,
- Higher level of employee motivation and involvement.
The Smart Office market was valued at USD 28.04 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 55.62 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 13.6% over the forecast period 2020 – 2025.
The market of smart solutions is rising in demand. More and more businesses are considering office transformation and are ready to invest in it. So if you have some doubts whether IoT is the best choice for your business, then take into consideration the opinion of a very influential source – Business Insider. In their research dedicated to IoT, they focused on industries that will probably be affected by this technology and need to implement it in the near future.
Among the named niches there were logistics and transportation, manufacturing, security, agriculture, retail, insurance, healthcare and food industry. For all of them IoT and smart offices can become a real game changer. And we definitely agree with this insight.
So the question is: “If we all have smartphones, smart wearable devices, use smart assistance on a daily basis, why do most of our offices still remain not smart enough?” Bringing IoT technologies to the physical work environment can make everyday routine more pleasing and effective.
After all, we used to spend 8+ hours in the offices on the daily basis. And although now many of us work remotely, the quarantine will be over and we will get back to our offices. That is why now it is the right time to initiate IoT development to address productivity challenges and take care of your office future.
Top 8 examples of IoT solutions for your office
Digital transformation is crucial for offices of all sizes. It doesn’t really matter whether you have 50 or 500 employees who are going to spend their working hours in your office. What really matters is whether their work is efficient and whether you provide them with all necessities to boost their productivity.
So to inspire change in your office, we have collected several great examples of smart IoT solutions that can be actively used in your working space or become the model for your own custom development. And before you proceed to them, just take a look at the video showing how smart office concept performs in action.
Smart Business Assistant
We all use Alexa or Siri, but let’s be honest, they are great for fun and domestic use but lack many things to become your full time business assistant. And to have one these days is a necessity. Thanks to smart business assistants you can discover currency exchange rates, weather reports, and even perform meeting tracking. But what’s more exciting is that such virtual assistants can sync up with numerous smart devices used by the office workers, and this creates an IoT environment.
If you look among ready-made smart assistants for business, you’ll see a really decent solution – Amazon’s Alexa for Business. Technologies used by Alexa for Business include numerous skill APIs (smart home, music, video, education skills), and text-to-speech.
IoT tagging for tracking devices
Although in many offices the heads encourage the usage of your own smart devices for work, in others it is still preferable to use office owned devices. But this requires their constant tracking – who took what, and where that device is now. And instead of wasting working hours on looking for a tablet or smartphone, you can find any device you need thanks to IoT tagging.
Let’s take a real time tracker called Aruba as an example. If there is a smart solution of a kind in your company, then you can monitor and pinpoint where this or that device is. It takes a couple of seconds to find what you need within your office space.
These were the first IoT devices that found their place in our households, but they can be no less useful in your office. The ability of smart thermostats to dynamically adjust the temperature in the office can make the working environment more comfortable and let you cut costs spent on inefficient and expensive climate control systems.
Smart thermostats can be controlled remotely and also with the help of the voice assistance, and there is a huge variety of them available on the market.
Tools for environment monitoring
It is so crucial to be aware of what’s going on in your office, and take a good care of all your machines and devices. But how would you keep an eye on all of them? How would you know if something broke or if the thermostat is not working right? Well, it is possible to keep everything under control if you have a smart IoT device like Twine.
Twine is a small but extremely intelligent IoT device that is responsible for the advanced diagnostics in your household or office space. It can monitor internal and inside temperature, humidity, and even provide advanced reports after analyzing the collected data.
You can also use the additional sensors of this device to set a web app to listen to vibrations, noises, etc. and send you notifications via email, SMS or even Twitter. So the app can let you know when someone knocked on your door, when some device stopped working, etc. Here is how the device looks.
If you take an average office and the bills it pays on the monthly basis, the one with the biggest numbers in it would be an electricity bill. No wonder, because there are a lot of computers and other devices turned on 5 days a week and let’s not forget about the lighting (that sometimes your employees forget to turn off). With the intelligent lightning system powered by IoT technology you will forget about these issues.
The smart bulbs can be connected to the devices of your employees to learn their schedules and turn the light on whenever it is needed. Also the employees will be able to adjust the brightness, color and balance of light during the day to feel comfortable and to minimize eye strain. Among such smart bulbs you can find the ones produced by Sengled which is the leading company in smart lightning. Here is the scheme of how the lamps work.
Source: Sengled website
Nobody will be surprised by the fact that you can manage printers thanks to your device and Internet connection. However, smart printing is not the only advantage of these IoT powered devices. They can monitor the supplies (i.e. the paper, ink) and even perform self-diagnostics to notify the employees that a quick fix or serious repair is needed.
And what’s more exciting such smart IoT printers can be connected to your inventory system and let you know via notification when you need to fill in your office supplies.
This IoT solution will be appreciated by the owners of big companies, because employees tend to lose the keys and swipe cards that are used to let them into the office. So to keep your office safe and make entrance procedure easier for the employees, you can install smart locks connected to your attendance system.
With the right set of options smart locks can even let you know what employee and when entered the office, and how many times he lives it during the day. On top of that, smart locks minimize the risk of break-ins.
IoT meeting room systems
From our own experience we can say that a smart meeting room is a must have for every busy office. How often did you face a situation when one of your teams needs to book a meeting room, but there is another team sitting in it? And the schedule of all meetings is unclear and held in Google docs. This turns all work experience into a nightmare. And that is exactly when IoT can become handy.
Thanks to IoT technology it is possible to create a smart system for booking meeting rooms. You can install the screens next to the meeting room door so that your teams can see the real schedule of meetings and could add theirs to it. This will reduce time spent on coordination of all work processes and let employees focus on far more important tasks.
IoT possibilities for work from home (WFH)
This year the pandemic made many offices shift to remote work. So numerous companies now consider implementation of smart IoT solutions for the employees who work from home. Remote IoT applications will allow business owners to track their devices that they give to employees, check the device’s condition remotely, and even maintain the performance of the complex equipment.
Also thanks to IoT technology it becomes possible for the business owners to share and provide educational and skill-based training materials and even perform real training remotely.
Let’s take a new IoT device called Scanmaker that you can use to slide across any printed text to scan it, then see it in your tablet or smartphone, or even translate it into 40+ different languages. With this technology it is easier to master new work strategies and try different foreign approaches.
Source: Scanmaker website
Thanks to IoT technology business owners can even regulate how their team is going to work after the quarantine. So let’s say you have a huge team and you need some members to work from the office, while others can work remotely. This requires a high level of coordination between the departments. And it can be reached thanks to IoT.
For example, people who work from home can prepare a presentation or report, and thanks to IoT powered printers make copies of the documents for all employees without being at the office.
Also it is possible to arrange a smart presentation remotely. If you have an IoT app, you can schedule a presentation, send invites to your employees automatically, set up automatic start of the slide show, and even log out from your account when the presentation is over. This is more secure, convenient and productive than sending everyone a slide show file and waiting for them to watch it.
The possibilities of IoT for home offices are endless, you only need to discover a great idea that suits your business model, shape it and turn it into a smart app.
How 5G will influence IoT
The IoT is reviving and its popularity will continue increasing thanks to the development of the 5G networks. The whole world awaits for it, and puts high hopes on this innovation. And those hopes are not vain. 5G launch is the best news for the IoT market and it will influence the business environment as well. So if you are building your own smart office environment at the moment, the upcoming launch of 5G should be taken into account.
We have explored how it will influence the IoT and here is what we’ve managed to discover:
Is custom IoT development worth your investment?
We can say for sure that custom IoT development is a great investment in your office future, especially if you want your company to be more flexible, easily adaptable to all changes and standing ahead of all your competitors. You will definitely need to have more than $35,000 in your pocket and be ready to spend it on the development. As to the time frames, depending on the solution complexity and features, it may take you up to 3-7 months to get it.
With such a wide variety of ready-made IoT solutions on the market it may be hard to see the real cons of them and advantage of custom development, but it is crucial to know it.
- First of all, ready-made apps may not be suitable for your office, they may lack some options and you will not have a chance to customize them or add something.
- Secondly, you will need to make payments for using those smart systems or else.
- Thirdly, those solutions may not be compatible with other software or devices used in your office. So you may end up with a half-useful tool at your hands that will not change much in your office. And you definitely do not need that (especially if you pay for something).
To get a solution that is fully adaptable to your business model and needs, you need custom development. Even if the cost of your own IoT app will exceed all your expectations, you may decide to try out your idea and build an MVP. It will cost you less but still will offer all major features, so that you can test your IoT app idea and see if it brings the change into your office.
The professionals who will participate in the development of your IoT solution are:
- Business Analyst – who will help you to shape your idea, explore the IoT market and solutions, select the appropriate tech stack, and write specifications of your future solution.
- System Administrator – who will be responsible for the work of devices, figuring out network issues and the ones related to operating systems.
- Mobile Developer – this specialist will write high-quality code for your Android or iOS solution and perform various integrations.
- Web developer – if your solution will be web or cloud based, then you need a professional who will perform all coding and make your solution from scratch.
- QA engineer – this specialist will perform various checks to find out whether your app is compatible with your devices and solutions, if it functions exactly as it is supposed to.
- Designer – he will spice up your solution with understandable interfaces and visually pleasing design, because many employees are going to use it on a daily basis and the app should be intuitive.
- Scrum Master – he will keep all development stages under control, make sure that the deadlines are preserved and everything is going according to a plan.
Speaking about the development itself, it is necessary to mention that every IoT solution includes two crucial components – hardware and software. The hardware implies a device, sensor, smartphone, tablet, drone, any kind of smart technology object that requires a soft to use it. As to the software, it is a web or mobile solution that lets you control and manage that smart device for which it is created.
The development of IoT solutions can be full of challenges as the developers need to take into consideration not only the code specificities, but also the device ones. Our team has faced some of them already and our expert Alexandra would like to share how it was with you.
We have developed numerous IoT projects for various businesses, and the most common issues we’ve faced were related to constantly changing middleware. This made our team adapt, and this costed our client additional money. Also for the testing stage we usually need to have hardware at our disposal to perform all checks in real time. As many IoT devices are experimental, it takes longer to complete the testing. On top of that, we need to take into account the cases of possible malfunctions not only in the software, but also in the middleware and hardware.
To sum it up
Although IoT became very popular not so long ago (after all, this technology is quite costly and complex), there are already a lot of ready made solutions and devices on the market. And if you still do not use any of them for your office, then you definitely should start doing it.
Not only IoT improves the efficiency of your employees work, but also it can prevent many possible challenges. This smart technology can offer you a higher level of security, more advanced diagnosis of your office devices and machines, and better approach to work organization. You can solve everyday productivity problems in a smarter way and make a working environment more pleasant to be in.
Speaking about ready-made and custom IoT solutions, we would recommend you to consider the second option as it will be more oriented on your business needs. Yes, custom software development is expensive, but you can be sure that your own well-made solutions will serve you more than any ready-made one. After all, you may not know when the IoT app provider might like to discontinue the support and further updates of his smart solutions. When it comes to office transformation, it is always better to rely on your own solutions.