The internet-of-things (IoT) is already having a major impact in residential and business applications, but when it starts to be applied to unified communications (UC), businesses will have even more to look forward to.
In case you aren’t familiar, IoT refers to individual internet-connected devices, often hailed as “smart” versions of existing devices and appliances. Eventually, the goal is to connect these devices together into a singular shared network to gain more control over an environment, such as a home or office. Unified communications (UC) is a term referring to equipment or software that allow enterprises to communicate in various ways on a narrow range of channels.
Why IoT and UC Naturally Work Together
IoT and UC may seem like different concepts, but they work together synergistically. Why? Mostly because they share common goals:
- Decreasing complexity. Stitching together multiple IoT devices ultimately reduces the complexity of a network, allowing a homeowner access to all their appliances via a single interface, for example, UC does the same thing, collecting multiple mediums together as simply as possible.
- Improving efficiency. Both IoT and UC are types of technology that improve employee efficiency. Though this can be said of virtually any technology, IoT and UC are two areas pursuing this aggressively, and with a focus on measurable results.
- Encouraging mobility. IoT, in the form of wearable devices, and UC, in the form of mobile-accessible platforms, both emphasize the importance of mobile access for users.
The Potential Impact
So what kind of impact can we expect IoT to have on UC in the near future?
- Shorter product release cycles. First, we’re going to see shorter product release cycles. Both these realms of technology feed into each other; UC allows for better, more streamlined communication while IoT allows for communication in new ways. Challenged and inspired by these mutually beneficial concepts, companies in both realms will work harder and more efficiently to produce new devices for businesses to use.
- More support services. With more companies relying on both UC and IoT technology, there’s going to be a rise in companies providing support services. This could include advising companies on how to establish infrastructure, IT-style companies meant to resolve issues, and consulting companies striving for more efficiency.
- Better fleet management. IoT is already revolutionizing business-related transportation. Once UC starts working closer together with existing IoT technologies, we’re going to see a sharp increase in business’s capabilities for fleet management. We’ll see tighter controls, more visibility, higher-precision tracking, and overall, more accurate data.
- More sources of quantifiable data. Speaking of data, the combination of IoT and UC will be giving us plenty of it. IoT, by nature, exists in the form of multiple interdependent and interconnected devices, each of which can measure many variables and feed that data to a central location. UC, on the other side of the equation, is giving us the power to quantify data points related to communication, which would otherwise remain hard to measure. The combination here is going to give us more quantifiable points of data on things like employee performance and efficiency.
- The emergence of smart workplaces. You’ve heard of the dawn of “smart homes,” but first, we’ll likely see the rise of “smart workplaces.” Some warehouses are already relying on IoT to do the bulk of their tracking, but soon, even traditional offices will be filled with internet-connected devices meant to track, manage, and of course (thanks to UC), communicate.
When Will IoT Become Mainstream?
The big holdup for these technological developments is the limited availability of IoT technology. IoT has permeated many industries already, especially in warehousing, where RFID chips and other tracking technologies have revolutionized cost structures and inventory accuracy. However, the IoT industry’s growth has missed projections for many years.
There are several reasons for this, including a lack of compatible systems, somewhat high costs, and consumer reluctance toward full-fledged adoption. Still, it’s reasonable to predict that by 2020, the prevalence of IoT tech will substantially increase, and along with it, the power of UC.
Keep that in mind when projecting your business needs—and perhaps even the future direction of your company.