Use cases for IoT and UC integration starting to emerge

The convergence of IoT and UC technologies seems to be emerging. IoT tools, for example, could track the use of meeting rooms and interact with collaboration apps.

The internet of things, or IoT, refers to the growing array of internet-connected devices -- everything from cars to HVAC systems to sensors and monitors. Over the last few years, use cases for IoT have been hyped as a way to improve business processes, reduce costs and deliver new customer-facing services. 

According to a recent unified communications and collaboration study by Nemertes Research, nearly half of the 700 participating organizations said they were using or had plans to adopt IoT.

IT and business leaders are starting to think of use cases for IoT to improve communications and collaboration. Some examples include the following:

  • Sensors in meeting rooms can track room use, including the number of attendees, length of meetings and systems used. This type of insight could help companies determine the right mix of video and nonvideo-enabled meeting rooms to optimize room spending.
  • Interconnecting sensors and cameras with collaboration applications could enable faster responses to events. For instance, the unauthorized opening of a door or the activation of a fire sensor could activate nearby cameras and open a team collaboration session that enables security and facilities personnel to rapidly respond to an incident.
  • Companies could integrate information from business process applications into communications apps, so process managers can collaborate in context as they manage their business. A fleet management system, for example, could track delivery vehicles. The fleet manager could chat with drivers in real time to check delivery status or reroute drivers based on urgent customer requests. They could also obtain notifications of other issues, such as a broken refrigerator in a truck.
  • Product developers could use IoT to monitor tests. For example, performance information, such as temperature and stress, could be fed into collaborative applications that allow teams to analyze real-time data and determine potential modifications.
  • Contact centers and customer engagement platforms could also integrate IoT. Wearable medical devices, for example, could alert a call center when the wearer experiences an anomaly, such as an irregular heartbeat. The alert could enable the call center agent to open a voice and video channel to the patient and assess the need for further action.
  • Auto-configuration of shared workspaces could be possible, as well. With the help of IoT, individuals could be recognized as they use their keycard or biometric access device to enter a location. This would enable instant configuration of their phone, desktop and other computing devices.

UC vendors create use cases for IoT

Vendors in the UC space are already using IoT for competitive advantage. Mitel, for instance, frequently touts its deployment at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport with Hub One, a telecom operator and integrator of mobile and tracking services. Mitel has used IoT to enable airport management and security personnel to respond to events, such as opening of secure doors or accessing automated external defibrillators. 

By using Avaya platforms, systems integrator Arrow SI has delivered Arrow Connect, which enables integration of IoT into communications and customer engagement applications. Arrow SI was recently acquired by ConvergeOne, a collaboration services provider.

In 2016, Cisco bought IoT platform vendor Jasper for more than $1 billion. However, to date, Cisco has not announced much in the way of UC integration. 

Many of the initiatives listed above fall under the domain of digital transformation, which Nemertes Research defines as the innovative use of emerging technology to deliver measurable business value. Incorporating IoT into digital transformation plans strongly correlates with overall digital transformation success, according to a recent Nemertes study.

For UC leaders, the message is clear: Work with your vendors, partners and lines of business to understand use cases for IoT and its capabilities and possibilities. Become part of or lead digital transformation efforts that use IoT to improve internal processes and customer engagement and deliver new capabilities.

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