Peanut butter and jelly, Bert and Ernie, cake and ice cream, shoes and socks — some things just go better together. In the tech world, unified communications and the Internet of Things are shaping up as a similarly perfect couple.
Although they tend to exist as distinct technologies, both UC and IoT are fundamentally about making connections. One gives people multiple ways to connect with each other, while the other facilitates connections between all sorts of devices and information systems. A union of the two can potentially produce a variety of remarkable benefits.
Pairing UC with IoT makes machine-to-human interaction possible. IoT data transmitted from network-enabled devices, sensors and endpoints can connect to the UC system, which can then route messages to specific people based on advanced analytics. Given the ability to access and respond to real-time IoT data from any device, companies can gain actionable intelligence that improves decision-making and creates competitive advantages.
Billions of devices are already connected through the IoT, and Gartner analysts are predicting a sharp increase in IoT investments in 2021. Primary use cases include predictive maintenance, inventory management, supply chain operations and asset tracking. The challenge for most organizations is figuring out how to act upon the vast amounts of raw data being produced.
More than half of companies in a recent McKinsey & Company survey agreed that IoT sensor data is valuable, but claimed they were only able to use 10 percent or less of that data. Seventy percent of respondents reported they have not yet integrated IoT solutions into their existing business workflows.
That’s where UC can maximize the value of IoT data. All IoT devices are assigned IP addresses and can communicate with other devices, applications and the cloud using standard networking protocols. Organizations can extend that communication to their UC systems with application programming interfaces (APIs) that make IoT data feeds part of UC sessions. They can then configure the systems to generate real-time alerts from IoT devices under certain circumstances.
Such direct machine-to-human communications from sensors and devices creates potential benefits in a wide range of fields. Here are just a few examples:
- At the first sign of problems or the potential failure of a piece of equipment, the system can alert maintenance staff or field technicians who can intervene before downtime occurs.
- Network-connected monitors can instantly analyze data about vital signs and trigger text or voice alerts to medical staff if a potential problem is detected. Such remote monitoring capabilities will be essential to the continued development of the telehealth industry.
- Customer service and support. Sensors on appliances, automobiles or electronics could detect a developing problem and generate a text alert to a contact center agent. The agent could then contact the customer to schedule a service visit.
- Facility management. Sensors can alert building maintenance crews when issues arise with plumbing, electrical, heating or cooling systems. They can also alert emergency personnel in the event of a fire, security breach or some other potential crisis.
- Smart football helmets and mouthguards with embedded sensors can monitor for head injuries. Sensors capture data about forceful impacts and can transmit that data to a team doctor’s mobile device.
Although UC and IoT may seem like an odd couple, combining the two distinct technologies can deliver broad benefits across almost any industry. Contact us to discuss how the integration of IoT and UC can help your business.