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IoT collaboration benefits are even greater than many realize.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has officially been typecast. Though tech outlets and watercooler pundits alike heap praise on the concept for its high utility and boundless potential, the actual discussion comes in limited flavors. If people aren’t talking about its consumer applications, they’re covering ways it can bolster workplace productivity.

To some degree, this technological tunnel vision makes sense. Numerous cool, useful things are happening in these specific segments of the IoT. Yet as the burgeoning field of IoT collaboration shows, mass connectivity is also building a world where working together is easier, more efficient, and more effective than it’s ever been before. Here are just a few ways the IoT is changing teamwork for the better:

Data, Data Everywhere

In many ways, the IoT revolution you’ve been waiting for is already here — it just didn’t make a lot of noise when it arrived. When your home bathroom scale, office copier, and even the pen on your desk can all hop on a network (and provide real utility in the process), it’s hard to argue otherwise.

The common factor among these three products and countless other IoT devices is data — and lots of it. Whether it comes to building new tools from scratch or, as IoT.do noted, retrofitting standard office equipment into bona fide IoT collaboration tools, there’s no end to the information modern devices can capture, transmit, and analyze.

With the sheer variety of data collected and processed, it’s fair to assume the inclusion of IoT technology can enhance any collaborative practice. Even so, simple availability can be a game changer on its own. For one example, members of a distributed agricultural research team could use an array of sensors to monitor various soil compositions and temperature factors in real time, checking and working with the results in from home offices, laboratories, and field sites across the country. In turn, this would result in multiple improvements to the team’s collaborative efforts in the following ways:

  • Researchers requiring certain data to continue collaboration on a technical document would no longer need to wait on manual updates at set intervals.
  • Team members in the field could more quickly respond to, analyze, and discuss physical factors behind the anomalous readings and view those anomalies closer to when they occurred.
  • Researchers on conference calls could reference real-time readings, making both professional and administrative planning more efficient and responsive.
  • In settings where experiments are held, results could be continuously monitored and reported at any rate the team saw fit, resulting in more precise analysis and stronger findings — with eyes across the country searching historical and current reports for notable results.

Optimizing (and Negating) Physical Space for Teams

Another common benefit of IoT-based collaboration technology is its ability to make physical distance and other human logistics issues a non-factor. In cases like the above, IoT tools remove the barriers distance can present, while sensors and connected devices help other teams make better use of the space they must share.

Consider vendor management and other relationships between two or more organizations. In these arrangements, space can be as challenging as it is necessary. While one party may want to share a meeting room and certain aspects of their operations with a partner, providing either (and especially the latter) may be challenging without granting an uncomfortable level of access in the process. This may be of particular concern in privacy-regulated industries such as healthcare or finance, as well as those where corporate espionage is a concern, such as manufacturing.

In this instance, IoT collaboration helps by virtualizing and abstracting the access. The vendor wishing to allay concerns over a manufacturing process could display and document their good work with a host of connected devices, including IP video cameras and automated sensors that alert via text or email when certain variances are recorded. The same gadgets could be used for business collaboration under a continuous improvement process, giving both sides deep insight into designated areas of the other’s operations, and only those areas.

Individual businesses and the teams within them can also make better use of physical space with IoT collaboration. Turning back to the healthcare industry, care teams can better collaborate on inpatient room placement, care plans, and timing of various interventions. This results in better responsiveness and elasticity in a stressful, frequently understaffed environment. Similar tools are currently used in the hospitality industry by companies such as CytexOne. Devices allow housekeeping teams to assign work, mark completion, and call for assistance over the network.

Finally, trends such as collaborative innovation have become all the more effective with collaborative IoT tools easing spatial roadblocks. Even a common IoT-enabled task such as putting a paper draft directly from the scanner to a shared digital workspace removes several logistical inefficiencies. Gone are the days of taking the elevator up 10 floors to meet with Steve in legal, only to find he stepped out for lunch. There’s also no need to navigate multiple schedules to set up face-to-face meetings with colleagues in different departments. The future is truly a wonderful place.

Collaboration’s New Face

To be sure, the IoT has a lot of exciting applications in the consumer space. Just as surely, there are countless excellent process-optimization tools among the billions of connected devices out there today.

Even then, however, elevated collaboration may be the best enhancement these devices bring to the average workplace. From reporting data that was once updated by humans to the complex considerations a team must undertake when a new patient takes a hospital bed, there are as many use cases out there as there are teams that would benefit from an IoT upgrade. If the connected future isn’t fully here yet, it’s unquestionably underway — a fact businesses would be smart to explore now, before IoT-powered collaboration becomes a competitive necessity.

To learn more about IoT collaboration, contact a Vonage Business consultant.

About Evan Wade

Evan Wade is an author and editor from Carmel, Indiana. As a veteran tech writer and lifelong tech enthusiast, he focuses his writing and research on communication, mobility and security. Alongside work with leading cloud technology providers and industry news sources, Evan has extensive sales and end-user marketing experience, giving him a unique view of the individual’s relationship with technology — and how organizations can realize huge benefits from it.

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IT managers will need a variety of new skills in order to leverage cloud solutions for business.

Businesses are moving to the cloud, with research firm Gartner predicting that by the end of 2017, there will be a $246.8 billion market for the public cloud alone. And while C-suite members need high-level knowledge of basic cloud services, IT managers are tasked with understanding cloud solutions for business at a deeper level. What skills do tech pros need to meet this new mandate?

Embracing Employees

According to a recent Forbes survey, more than half of companies are putting new apps and services in the cloud instead of on existing infrastructure. The result? It’s now possible for non-tech employees to easily deploy applications or resources without waiting for IT approval. In fact, 76 percent of respondents say DevOps (not IT) was responsible for their transition, despite the lack of DevOps departments in most organizations. Those surveyed pointed to DevOps as an operating philosophy with roots in agile development.

What does this mean for the IT manager skill set? It’s no longer possible to tell employees how they should interact with cloud services, but instead empower them to easily and securely leverage the cloud. Forcing them down the narrow path of approved services often leads to the development of shadow IT. As noted by Network World, even NASA discovered 28 unsanctioned cloud services on its system during a recent audit. As a result, an IT manager must develop new ways to embrace employee expectations while minimizing overall risk.

Managing Multi-Cloud

IT professionals must become adept at both designing new cloud environments and determining the best cloud distribution for their organizations. According to CloudTech, high-demand skills for tech experts now include private and hybrid cloud design, private and hybrid infrastructure-as-a-service provisioning, and cloud systems management.

Yet this is just the beginning. Companies have evolved past the one-cloud-only model to embrace the notion of specific clouds for specific workloads or projects. As a result, many companies are trending away from single public or private deployments to a multi-cloud mix that includes hybrid, private, and public distributions that change dynamically over time to meet corporate needs. Beyond rebranding themselves as cloud experts, IT managers must learn how to effectively balance cloud spending and cloud benefits while simultaneously communicating value to C-suite executives.

Implementing Innovation

Once cloud systems are up and running, IT managers must develop skills to make the best use of these new resources. Consider the IoT. The market for this always-connected, interlocking web of sensors, mobile devices, and monitoring tools promises big gains if companies are able to effectively collect, parse, and interpret big data. To meet this emerging challenge, IT professionals need the time and space to expand their knowledge and embrace the impact of IoT.

Other innovations are also changing the way enterprises handle day-to-day operations. The rise of cloud-based VoIP, for example, can not only replace but significantly upgrade the performance of inter-office and intra-office communication systems and pave the way for unified communications deployments. While it makes sense to leverage the tools and technology of third-party experts for cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), IT managers remain the critical point of contact between cloud services and new solutions.

The bottom line? Implementing the cloud is a challenge shared by employees, executives, and IT managers. Meanwhile, understanding cloud solutions for business falls under the purview of IT experts and demands a new focus on end users, multi-cloud management, and the ability to effectively implement innovative solutions.

Are you ready to learn more about the power of the cloud? Talk to a Vonage Business consultant today!

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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Make sure you understand these business acronyms, because your tech team will be using them.

As technology advances, it’s tough for everyday users to keep up with the times, let alone understand every piece of tech jargon that gets flung their way. And for executives, knowledge gaps on these business acronyms can have serious consequences. Managers who simply nod and smile may find themselves backing projects they would have never otherwise approved, while those relying on the hard “no” may discover a sudden uptick in the spread of shadow IT.

The solution? Track down the tech terms you need to know this year before you make any big decisions. Oh, and you’re in luck: We’ve got you covered with this handy guide.

1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

You’ve probably heard this term before, but if this is your first exposure to SaaS, consider yourself lucky that you didn’t embarrass yourself by asking about it during a tech briefing. Put simply, SaaS is taking over the world by offering software delivered via the cloud rather than requiring companies to download and install massive files on their hard drives. According to Cloud Tech, the SaaS market was worth $12 billion in 2016 and is on track to reach $50 billion by 2024. Bottom line? You’ll be investing big in SaaS, so it’s best to understand the basics.

2. Unified Communications as-a-Service (UCaaS)

As the cloud becomes the go-to technology foundation for many companies, you’ll have technology experts in your office waxing poetic about the benefits of Unified Communications as-a-Service. It sounds a little new-agey at first, but it’s really just the integration of all communication services — think Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video, and over-the-internet meetings — all rolled into one and supported by a solid provider. Opting for a cloud-based unified communications solution lets you better manage costs and optimize networks to ensure quality of service (bonus acronym, QoS) is maintained even if employees are downloading big files or otherwise hogging network bandwidth.

3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

No, this does not stand for “most valuable player.” It’s actually a reference to the bare minimum needed to get a tech project off the ground and onto live servers. Recently, there has been a push to change the term and make it “most valuable product,” since doing the bare minimum in a mobile-driven world is a good way to grab terrible social reviews and find customers jumping ship for more innovative alternatives. The best advice for the IT business decision maker? Track down the real intention if your team starts throwing this one around. Make it clear that you know exactly what it means and that the bare minimum won’t cut it. It’s better to be an MVP with an MVP rather than an MVP, right? Right.

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Next on the list of business acronyms is AI. Nope, we’re not talking about the type of AI found in “I, Robot” or “Terminator.” While the concept of super-smart, human-like machines makes great movie fodder, real AI is a little bit more down to earth. More importantly, innovators aren’t actually trying to mimic human interactions — instead, they want to design tech that’s incredibly intelligent within the context of a specific job or role. In the workplace, AI usually refers to specific tools that streamline automation, so companies can focus on their IT ROI.

5. Internet of Things (IoT)

This one gets a ton of play in the news, but despite the hype, there’s huge potential here. Simply put, IoT relies on a collection of (typically) small, connected devices that store and share information. In turn, this gives companies access to a huge amount of potentially actionable data.

Examples here include smart thermostats that measure office temperature or vehicle sensors that help manage logistics. Next-generation uses include wearables to help monitor performance and the evolution of even smaller devices across more disparate networks to produce granular data from any possible source. Expect IT to talk about this business acronym regularly, so be ready to dig in and discover exactly what they’re proposing.

So, there you have it: five tech terms you’ll probably come across in the next few months and should know something about before IT pros start tossing them out like candy. Come back in six months, and we’ll have another set on deck to get you through the rest of 2017.

Contact Vonage Business for more information on useful tech that will promote engagement and collaboration.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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