By Victor Paradell, Vice President, IoT Solutions & Analytics Europe, Tech Data
The Internet of Things is rapidly evolving, re-shaping thousands of industries in fresh and exciting ways. Gartner predicts that 20.4 billion connected devices will be in use globally by 2020 (source: Gartner, 2017).
What makes IoT so exciting is its ability to completely transform how a business operates. IoT is innovation-led meaning the better you can innovate, the better the business outcome. Organisations who fail to grasp this, face being left behind by competitors. Most businesses need help understanding how to embrace the advantages that come with IoT, as well as support to successfully implement connected solutions into the business model. As an IT provider, you need to start by having a thorough understanding of your customers’ most pressing business challenges. Then with an open mind, look at creative ways you can use IoT solutions to overcome these challenges. To start off, don’t allow yourself to be constrained by the traditional ways of doing things. Remember, you are looking for game-changing innovation. Then reach out to experienced partners, like Tech Data, who can help take an IoT concept through to a production-ready solution, capable of delivering a measurable return on investment.
How does having the right partner help?
Tech Data guides partners throughout the IoT journey of transforming IoT technology into the right business outcome. One of the unique things about IoT, is the need for a vast number of different skills you don’t normally find together. Technically, you need to understand sensors, gateways, networking, security, analytics, cloud, digital applications, storage, etc. Then because it is so transformational, you need technology experts who can guide the board of a large enterprise through a journey that may involve a dramatic business transformation. For most providers of IT, having all these skills in-house is financially prohibitive and risky.
Fortunately, Tech Data has the global scale and scope to justify having all these skills in-house and in our ecosystem of partners. Over the last few years, our focus on next-generation technologies means we have constructed an IoT portfolio of hardware, software and services that is unmatched. Plus, when it comes to using IoT to improve the workplace, we’ve already got a head-start. For most organisations, workplace optimisation is a board level consideration that can have a major impact on the organisations overall profitability. We encourage channel partners to take and customise any of the following IoT workplace solutions:
- Hot-desk utilisation – Getting the right balance between the number of hot-desks and permanent desks is an almost impossible challenge without hard facts. Thanks to advanced IoT monitoring, it is possible to measure how frequently hot desks are used and for how long. Analytics can show usage over time, providing facilities managers with the ability to make evidence-based decisions to improve the utilisation of the space. Tech Data can help enhance the solution so that employees can check their phone on arrival and immediately know where the vacant hot desks are located within the building. It’s straight-forward to seamlessly extend this IoT application to include visitor car parking spaces.
- Meeting room utilisation – Facilities managers are often challenged in knowing how many meeting rooms are needed and the optimum size for meeting rooms. Similar to hot desk utilisation, a workforce IoT solution can measure how frequently meeting rooms are used and the number of people in a typical meeting, meaning the correct rooms are being used each and every time, and teams aren’t left without a space.
- Workspace comfort level – No one likes to work in an office that is either too hot, too cold, too stuffy, too crowded or too dimly lit. Being able to measure a range of environmental conditions to help ensure the office layout is optimised can boost productivity. With continuous monitoring, facilities managers have historical evidence based data that can be used to continually tweak the workspace for optimum productivity. Workspace utilisation can make a huge difference to an organisation’s overall competitiveness. Not only is utilisation important, but office comfort can play a big part in employee engagement and productivity.
- Smart cleaning – A clean office helps productivity, and sets the right tone with customers and employees. However, it can be resource-intensive to keep large offices clean. With a smart cleaning solution, you can measure traffic flows, usage, bin levels, etc. The idea is that you only clean an area as and when it needs it, meaning cleaning teams can be deployed more efficiently.
- Healthy water – Organisations have to protect its staff from Legionella, a pathogenic bacteria found commonly in water supplies. The risk of Legionella is highest where the water sits between 20° C (68° F) and 45° C (113° F) beyond a few days. Techniques for preventing Legionella vary, but most are highly crude and inefficient. However, with Devicepoint® for Healthy Water you can measure the temperature and flow of water in a pipe twenty-four hours a day. A digital application then alerts you before there is a risk to the people in the workplace.
- Sensors – Every deployment will have a slightly different requirement. Fortunately, this is no problem. Tech Data can help select the right sensors based on the project requirements as set out by the end customer. Everything from off-the-shelf to custom-made sensors can be sourced and incorporated into the solution. Typically, sensors will offer long battery life, use low-powered wide-area networking for secure connectivity, and will operate on an ultra-narrow band radio frequency, giving it the capability to penetrate through walls and floors with ease.
- Analytics – In addition, analytics can be customised or fed directly into a building /asset management system such as Maximo. Instead of a log being put into a filing cabinet, where it is out of sight and mind, analytics can be stored and used for monthly reports generated with greater accuracy for skilled facilities management. These reports can be generated in a custom format to exactly how they are currently produced, reducing the negative effects of change when adopting a new system.
Smart facilities managers are innovating with next-generation technologies to create amazing outcomes that in the case of smart workplace management, has the potential to radically make the buildings people work in better utilised and far nicer places to be.