The Internet of Things has already infiltrated our homes, automating everything from our thermostats to our door locks. As the IoT becomes more prevalent, it will soon enter the workplace as well. This offers offices benefits such as:
- Lower utilities costs thanks to regulated heating and lights
- Better communication from presence tracking and more face-to-face connections
- More secure workplaces with inventory tracking for personnel, confidential documents, and prototypes
It sure sounds appealing. But if you’re thinking about bringing the IoT to your workplace, there are some things you need to keep in mind.
1. Privacy Is Paramount
People are more comfortable with sensors tracking the nuances of their habits in the comfort of their homes. However, they may not be as comfortable sharing information like allergies or purchase history with a connected workplace.
With Robin Identity, our vision for the IoT is that users will have control over what information they share with a connected space. People want to protect their jobs and maintain a professional distance with an office. Therefore, control over personal data is critical.
2. Secure It Up With Identities
With business software, users are given different “roles” and permissions for information they can see or settings they can change. Experiences in the physical world are no different. With the ability to manage identities in a connected space, experiences could be tailored based on whether or not the employee has authorization.
Unlike the home, a person using a device is a guest on the system and not the owner. Confidentiality and security are important aspects to consider about the connected office, and that’s why offices need to customize the experiences based on user permissions.
For example, if the accounting team is going over projections in the conference room and someone unauthorized walks in, the presentation display screen can automatically lock. Alternatively, with the opportunity to automate large parts of business operations, you can be sure the right people have the ability to make changes to the system.
To take this a step further, two-factor authorization is an important security measure to put in place. Online, it’s simple enough to use someone else's password to gain unauthorized access to information. In the physical world, it’s simple enough to steal an RFID wrist band, smart phone, or magnetic card to gain access to private information or locations within an office. Offices can prevent this by programming a space to deliver the “authorized experience” only when triggered by two levels of identification.
3. Have a Backup Plan for When the Power Goes Out
You need to be able to open your supply closet even when the WiFi drops. If this connected experience is core to your workplace operations, try to have a backup plan if the power goes out. With connected devices, backup systems can be more complicated since even with battery power they may not have access to their cloud “brains” to function.
4. Scale with a Common API and Dashboard
The systems tracking and processing data for the office need to be simple to use, yet robust enough to manage large offices, many devices, and data from thousands of employees. The 1-to-1 relationships between devices and the Internet offered by many existing hardware solutions don’t cut it. You need a common dashboard that makes it easy to regularly add new identity tracking and new devices.
If the fanfare over the IoT from this year's CES was any indicator, IT executives, COO’s and even Chief Happiness offers will soon have the IoT top of mind for the workplace. These people will look to the connected world to slash operations costs, streamline technology, and offer a more comfortable and efficient workplace to employees.
To responsibly pursue the limitless potential of the IoT, the above considerations must be taken into account. But if approached the right way, the IoT can turn out to be an extremely successful initiative for the office.