When the phrase “Internet of Things” (IoT) was first uttered back in the 1990s, it was viewed as a pie-in-the-sky concept. Today, the IoT is very much a reality, and a massive one at that. IDC expects the IoT to be a $7.1 trillion industry by 2020.

Your fitness device, smart TV, automated thermostat, video doorbell, streaming media player, and even that coffeemaker that allows you to get a cup brewing before you go downstairs are all part of the IoT. Your friends Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Now are connected to the IoT, too.

Of course, IoT applications in the home are just the beginning. In the workplace, virtually any object or person can be connected to the IoT and become a source of data. When these devices are integrated into workflows and communicate the data they collect, that data can be analyzed in near real time to improve decision-making.

The IoT allows you to automate business functions and tasks to boost performance and reduce errors, whether you want to control who accesses your workplace, monitor equipment and schedule proactive maintenance, or automatically order printer toner before the cartridge runs out.

An emerging use case involves the integration of the IoT and video conferencing. Video conferencing has become more widely used, thanks to better technology and the flexibility and ubiquity of mobile. Organizations are rediscovering the value of regular face-to-face communication over endless texts, emails and instant messages.

Although video conferencing has long been used for collaboration, integration with IoT introduces new capabilities. For example, you don’t have to stop a video conference while somebody looks up information. Artificial intelligence-enabled devices allow you to use voice-activated commands to ask questions and receive answers immediately. Instant access to information without disrupting the flow of a meeting can improve the quality and speed of video conferences. The IoT also makes it possible to connect video conferencing devices, meeting rooms, databases, whiteboards and other collaborative tools to enhance efficiency and productivity.

Beyond internal collaboration, organizations are using the IoT to communicate with customers. Video calls can be browser-based, TV-based or smartphone-based. A digital screen with a video conferencing link can be added to virtually any product or object, making it a platform for face-to-face communication and a source of real-time information.

Customers can use wearable technology with two-way cameras to interact your products as well as with your company. Taking that even further, MIT is working on an augmented reality technology that projects a digital interface onto products, stores, ads, etc., providing a wealth of information about the product. Like the IoT, these kinds of pie-in-the-sky developments will move rapidly into the mainstream.

The potential of the IoT, especially when integrated with video conferencing tools, is enormous, and solutions are evolving rapidly. Our dedicated IoT practice can help you identify potential use cases for your organization and develop a strategic approach for implementation and management. Let us help you determine how the IoT can be leveraged to enhance your operations and create competitive advantages.