Imagine a workspace where your coffee machine automatically knows how much coffee to brew based on how many people have entered the office today, or where your office plants that tell you exactly when they need to be watered.
With Internet of Things (IoT) technology, this will be (or might already be!) your reality.
Internet of Things devices are physical objects with sensors that can connect to the internet, communicate with one another, and share readings and information about their status and operation. This is different from a building automation system, which controls equipment but may do little else. IoT is showing up in everything from window shades, watches, and even light bulbs! These smart devices are the next technological revolution and will provide offices, just like yours, improved efficiency, automation, and opportunities for creativity to users.
Why Pay Attention to the Internet of Things Revolution?
If you have ever adjusted your thermostat from your smartphone or tracked your daily steps with a wristband, you are already part of the IoT revolution – and this is just the start. If you haven’t used one yet, chances are you soon will, and it will likely be as part of your daily work routine.
A recent Business Insider report predicts that there will be 24 billion IoT devices on the market by 2020, or about 2.5 time as many IoT devices as traditional devices such as phones or computers (yes, your new iPhone is now “traditional”.) Cisco predicts the IoT market will value $14.4 trillion by 2022.
With huge opportunities to automate, streamline, and optimize operations at scale, businesses will be the primary early adopters of these 24 billion devices. That means that your job – no matter what you’re doing – will touch IoT devices very soon.
Improving Everyday Office Life
IoT-enabled devices can automate processes that were once manual. For example, that coffee machine I mentioned earlier might be a bit far off, but some offices already enjoy the convenience of WiFi enabled coffee makers that can be triggered by a simple iPhone click during the morning commute. Imagine: No more waiting for that the morning boost to brew, just grab a fresh cup the instant you walk in the door.
In bigger ways, IoT sensors and connectivity can provide immediate cost savings for operational expenses. The benefits of natural light indoors can’t be underestimated, but large glass windows can add exorbitant heat gains to your buildings. View Dynamic Glass is a great example of how a connected device helps save on energy costs. When installed in offices, this smart glass helps avoid added energy expenses by intuitively responding to interior and exterior conditions for optimal comfort and energy conservation.
Constant Actionable Information
While just-in-time coffee is a great perk in the office, it doesn’t explain the demand from businesses if they’re going to be purchasing billions of IoT devices in the next 5 years. To understand why IoT is really transformative, you need to think of the utilitarian uses of connected devices.
Amazon has been an IoT trailblazer for improving efficiency. We’re not just talking about the planned drone delivery program here. For years Amazon has been using smart warehouses. Sensors identify products and connect to online orders, allowing workers to monitor the movement of products every step of the way. Now, Kiva Systems robotics pull and prepare products for order.
Previously, Amazon employees physically roamed their fulfillment facilities to pull individual products for order. Now the employees have time to solve more high-level problems for the warehouse, and as a result, order efficiency has improved by 15 percent. Best of all, their employment levels haven’t changed, and their worker experience has greatly improved.
What does this mean for CRE professionals?
The IoT revolution will change the way you work and aspects of your everyday life. If you think of every piece of equipment in your operation – from HVAC, to cooling towers, to lighting – how much more could you do if you knew exactly what was happening and if you could automate when it was happening?
Connecting in real time to your utility readings, knowing the occupancy in each area of your building, or automating the natural light levels in your building is now affordable and possible. You can better plan maintenance, conserve energy, receive alerts for fault detection – all automatically.
This is the real genius of IoT and why businesses will be purchasing billions of IoT devices. The possibilities with smart devices are nearly endless and continue to grow as technology becomes more accessible. What problems is your workplace dealing with that could be simplified by IoT tech?