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How the channel can use IoT to get businesses back into their workplaces

Oct 21, 2020 6:59:01 AM Camilla Bonanni IoT, Retail Technology, Next Generation Technologies, Technology Solutions, COVID-19

With the certainty of the pandemic continuing through the winter months, businesses are going to experience major operational challenges. These will be particularly acute around maintaining social distancing, tracking contacts and upholding changing regulations. Despite this, organisations can utilise digital technology such as IoT and analytics to help them optimise their operations while putting the safety of their employees and customers first.


During this uncertain time, companies need to be reminded that their customers and employees need to remain at the heart of what they do and to make sure that they are safe. To achieve this, they must consider three main areas of focus; manage interactions, create a healthy environment, and control the workplace.


Manage interactions


Managing interactions between people is a crucial for keeping people safe. Across industries, from retail to manufacturing or food production, businesses have a responsibility to manage social distancing in order to allow them to continue them to operate. Solutions such as location tracking, interaction listing, and heat maps can help ensure that social distancing is maintained, as well as allow businesses to restructure their spaces to promote a safe environment. Being a highly versatile technology, Bluetooth can be used across a range of different functions and be embedded in sensors, wearables, and mobile devices to track social distancing and ensure that people limit their exposure to one another.


For organisations who implement these measures, one challenge they will have to tackle is the reduction of both customer and employee privacy. The need to contact trace requires the collection of personal details, location data or logging interactions, which results in data security challenges. One way the channel can support this is by making sure that security and data protection is embedded into the solutions they provide, as well as being on hand to manage any data handling and storage.


Creating a healthy environment


Another key area for organisations to focus on is health. Organisations will need more oversight of the cleaning standards and heightened focus on the quality of the environments that individuals live and work in. The use of technology has allowed for organisations to accelerate efforts to make work environments safer. Technology has not only been used to monitor symptoms of COVID-19, such as a high temperature, but it has been used to improve the quality of air and ensure that safety standards are met. Air quality monitors can be utilised by organisations to measure the pollution of certain areas and examine data that represents air quality in real time. With this information, organisations can put into place measurements that ease the pressure of high-risk areas.


Controlling the workspace


Those businesses whose workplaces are open need to control the space and how people use it to limit contact. Controlling the number of people using buildings on a day-to-day basis will pose a challenge for organisations. Occupancy planning software and AI can help inform workplace redesigns and layout changes for safe working, guide capacity limits, distancing, and measure actual occupancy patterns. Solutions such as traffic lights and micro-displays can help manage the movement of people through busy corridors and communal spaces.


Leveraging trusted technology


The technology industry has been working non-stop since the beginning of the pandemic to develop products and services that help businesses to adapt to the myriad of challenges they face ahead, and Tech Data only brings to the market those valid solutions. While many valuable innovations have emerged during this time, it has also resulted in many different technologies and point products for organisations to understand and analyse for interoperability with their current operations and IT environments.


The channel can play an important role as a trusted advisor for their end customers, helping them choose technology that aligns with their needs. Tech Data supports partners along this journey, providing them with the tech stacks, consultancy, and expertise that they typically require to cater for these new emerging needs. This can be in the form of pre-built solutions that can be tailored to individual customer needs, sales training to upskill on the newest innovations for helping with business reopening, and technical support to help with configuration. By uniting all the expertise of the channel to solve real world business challenges, partners can ensure that they can support their end customers through this difficult time.

Camilla Bonanni

Written by Camilla Bonanni

Camilla Bonanni, EMEA IoT/Data Industry Lead, Retail, Tech Data, is a former 'Googler' who has witnessed the evolution of eCommerce into Omnichannel Retail over an 18 year international career in the technology industry. Camilla now advises on digital transformation in this industry, helping partners and their end customers adapt to the changing circumstances resulting from COVID-19.


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