6 ways enterprise IoT can improve workplace efficiency

1. Save time by streamlining communications between retail workers

Working as a sales associate in retail can be tough. When customers see you, they expect you to have all the answers. Getting the information they need typically requires using tools like barcode scanners or radios that connect sales floor team members to stock room workers. However, a communications solution called Theatro seeks to change that.

It’s a wearable communication device that allows people to use voice-recognition technology to find out about stock levels, determine the location of certain team members or even have one-on-one communications with colleagues to ask them questions about products.

The voice-recognition aspect means users can get many pieces of information fed back into their earpieces without having to ask fellow workers. That feature cuts down on irrelevant store chatter. There’s a voice command for dealing with backups at checkout lines, too. There’s also a YouTube video that goes into more specific use cases.

2. Providing more visibility into a company’s vehicle fleet

If a substantial part of your company’s business involves deliveries, home visits for repairs or instances where your team members visit clients at their offices, you might have a fleet of company vehicles to use. The likelihood of that possibility goes up if there are substantial distances to travel, especially since people would want to avoid excess wear and tear on their cars.

IoT technology for enterprise allows businesses to track numerous things about their vehicles and how drivers use them. For example, they can see a person’s real-time location, which prevents a business representative from having to take the time to call someone who’s en route.

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Also, a user could look at a dashboard that features a miniature map and includes details about all the company’s vehicles currently on the road. Then, if particular areas are exceptionally congested with traffic, someone at the company could alert employees and tell them to avoid those roads.

It’s also possible to tell if drivers consistently take longer-than-necessary routes to reach places or if they spend more time in a location than they should. In those cases, corrective action and coaching could help those individuals, and the company at large become more efficient.

3. Helping businesses cut down on time-consuming steps

Enterprise IoT products are also ideal for companies that want to make their operations more efficient by letting employees cut down on prohibitively time-consuming tasks. Non-IoT products also exist that complement connected items.

One example is Absolute PDF Server 3.0, a server-side PDF conversion and creation tool. PDFs are common in the business world, and knowledge workers tend to like the format because it displays information correctly regardless of a person’s operating system or device. However, one of the downsides is that PDFs are usually difficult to edit.

Absolute PDF Server 3.0 eliminates that pitfall by allowing users to automate PDF creation and conversion for sending, archiving and eventually repurposing those PDFs. A non-IoT server-side solution like this gives the entire organisation access to those centralised services, which streamlines PDF tasks in a single program instead of using several to accomplish their needs.

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The IoT could come into the picture, then, if a company uses a connected printer. Those devices make printing edited PDFs or any other documents more efficient. That’s because they usually have numerous sensors that tell someone the number of blank pages left in the paper tray, the amount of ink remaining or if a particular printer is jammed.

You’ve probably been in situations where you expect a printer to work as it should, but it doesn’t because it doesn’t have enough ink or paper or there’s another internal issue to fix. Those things all cut down on your efficiency, but an IoT printer could solve those issues while specialty software reduces other unnecessary slowdowns.

4. Letting employees brew coffee without unnecessary delays

Many workers can’t imagine getting through the day without several cups of coffee. However, you might be shocked at how much of the time they spend preparing hot drinks and food. A poll of workers in the UK showed that the average worker spent 25 minutes during every eight-hour workday to make snacks and drinks.

Investing in a connected coffee maker could help you stifle part of that downtime. Some models allow people to control the coffee maker from an app, which could enable them to keep working until the brewing process finishes. Then, all they need to do is go into the kitchen or breakroom to retrieve the coffee.

5. Tracking packages with fewer headaches

Business representatives that send goods know they can’t breathe easily until those things get to their destinations. Solutions exist that allow tracking the trucks carrying the products, but that’s not always sufficient. Packages could get misplaced or intentionally opened while in transit, and keeping tabs on the vehicle that should carry those products doesn’t necessarily help in those situations.

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However, some options use sensors to track things down to the item level. A company called Roambee offers plug-and-play sensors that you can use and then have removed from your business when you no longer need them. The sensors also continue to gather data if placed in flight mode during air travel or when your item is transported via a ship.

Using technology like this could allow you to get rid of the uncertainty that often results when you need to track a particular item. You can stop spending time placing multiple phone calls to every party within the supply chain and see the product as it progresses.

6. Enhancing business security with smart cameras

Physical security is a crucial part of keeping your business safe. Even if you have on-site security guards, installing smart security cameras could reduce their workloads and help them more efficiently investigate potential incidents. For example, some IoT cameras have artificial intelligence (AI) components that can recognise animals versus people or learn whether individuals are familiar or strangers.

Then, any staff members who handle security should deal with fewer false alarms, allowing them to spend their time looking into genuinely concerning matters. Plus, smart security cameras could reduce the need to file insurance claims. Statistics collected about small businesses in 2016 found that more than one-third of them experienced incidents that could lead to such filings.

The research also showed that employee injuries and burglaries or thefts were the second- and third-most common issues, respectively. Having cameras around could make it easier to spot risks like those that could severely disrupt business operations.

Plenty of promising possibilities

This list gives you compelling reasons to think about using enterprise IoT technologies in your workplace or at least learn more about the available options. Implementing this kind of tech could boost efficiency as well as save money.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews, is a tech journalist and writer.