Is IoT the next step for the mobile workforce?

For any organisation which employs a mobile workforce, making sure they are getting the most out of their teams when they are out of the office is essential.

For workers on public transport, cloud software and unified communications systems have helped them to keep working while on the move. On the other hand, the need for road users to stay focussed on the road has meant that accessing files, emails and contacting colleagues isn’t an option.

However with the number of partnerships between car manufacturers and telecoms companies that is all set to change, and it is becoming clear that the future of the mobile workforce is with IoT.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for a number of years now and is simply an umbrella term for a device which can communicate with other devices through the internet.

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The devices it covers is unfathomably large, with Juniper Research predicting that the number of IoT connected devices will reach 38B by 2020. Consumer awareness of the trend has been driven by devices like smartwatches, fridges that tell you when you’ve run out of milk and thermostats which you can control via a smartphone and connected cars.

But you all knew that.

While connected consumer devices are gaining a lot of mainstream attention, the area which I predict to exponentially grow in the next couple of years is around business applications of IoT.

From remote monitoring of agriculture to providing ways to engage with off-site workers, connected devices in business will become essential tools to driving efficiency in almost any sector.

What makes IoT so promising for companies with a mobile workforce is the ability for organisations to integrate any device with their communications platform.

For example, instead of relying on a travelling sales rep to have their mobile device handy at all times when on the road, organisations can forward any business calls directly to the in-car telephony system.

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It’s not just voice communications that will be made simpler with IoT. Whilst taking a break at roadside services, workers will be able to access files, initiate video conferences with colleagues and respond to emails all through the in-car display unit. No more having to juggle multiple devices or fiddle around with bluetooth to turn a car into a mobile office.

While there are some very clear opportunities with the use of IoT in business communications, the road ahead isn’t completely without its obstacles. For example, take the process of integrating unified communications into an in-car IoT system.

With desktop and mobile, most organisations will pick an operating system or platform, whether that’s iOS and Mac OS or Android and Windows, so integrations can be consistently rolled out across an entire business.

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With connected cars, there are multiple options to choose from and they are generally fixed to a device. For example, VW uses the Mirror Link operating system in some of its models but a different manufacturer may be powered by Apple’s CarPlay or Android Auto.

Because they are linked to the in-car heads up display unit, ensuring that they consistent across all devices in an organisation’s fleet may require a company to purchase replacement head units for different car models.

To get around this particular challenge without the need for companies to spend money on replacement technology, unified communications providers will need to develop integrations for multiple connected car operating systems.

Making sure that workers have a consistent user experience regardless of the car, device or system they’re using is key to ensuring businesses are able to stay connected while on the road.

IoT is undoubtedly a major opportunity for businesses with a mobile workforce and unified communications will play a major role in the development and future of the trend in the corporate world.


Sourced by Sahil Rekhi, EMEA MD, RingCentral

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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