Progressing through decades and disrupting the status quo: The emergence of IoT in workplaces

Progressing through decades and disrupting the status quo: The emergence of IoT in workplaces
At a Glance

Today’s world is all about increased connectivity. Reports point to an increased number of connected devices, estimated to be greater than the world’s population. By 2025, 41.6 billion devices will be capturing data of our lives and activities. IoT trends and their progress has brought about this transformation. It has established itself as a disrupter of the existing state of affairs across sectors, industries, and workplaces


When Kevin Ashton coined the term Internet of Things in 1999, not many were aware of its potential. There were not many smartphones back then and hence the concept of connected devices would have appeared bizarre. But even before Mr. Ashton had coined it, it greeted the world in the form of a simple soda machine 1980s, when some university students modified its contents to remotely control and track its contents by connecting it to a computer. 

From then on, till today, the change has traversed a progressive pathway. After the term IoT was coined in the 2000s, many changes unfolded. 

LG announced their smart refrigerator, the first iPhone was released, cloud technology came into prominence, IBM’s smarter planet project entered the picture. It investigated the benefits of applying sensors, networks, and analytics to major urban issues. Google tested its self-driving cars, which has now entered the picture and much more happened. 

Though the concept of IoT is only over a decade old (counting from its increased emergence), it has led to the disruption of the existing state of affairs across various sectors, modifying operations and impacting the mode of conduct. In the latest trends, as opined by experts and observers of disrupting trends (caused by digitization), IoT is one of the most notable trends.

Flipping the script

A report by Mckinesety highlights that today, about quarter of the world’s businesses are using IoT devices, a 14 percent jump from 2013-2014, around the time which the Industrial Internet Consortium was formed by AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel. It aspires to accelerate the growth of the industrial internet to commercialize the usage of advanced technologies. Research and development efforts were promoted around this time, and efforts to speed up identifying, assembling, testing, and promoting best practices came into being.

The State of the Connected World, 2021, a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF), enunciates the steadily increasing number of connected devices across the globe. By 2025, about 41.6 billion devices will be connected, capturing data on the way we work, live, and navigate our lives. This, it says, has been enhanced further with the COVID-19 induced digital transformation. The trend is likely to grow even after the pandemic subsides, the report narrates. 

As it grows, IoT has the potential to transform how we live and work. Digital factories could operate with far greater efficiency and flexibility. Farms could increase productivity and improve sustainability at the same time. Cities could offer residents all kinds of new services at a lower cost. Consumers could gain access to a range of applications that would make their lives more convenient and their homes safe

The WEF report quotes.

Changing workplaces

With workplaces, too, there is not much difference in terms of evolved trends. According to a new market research report, Smart Office Market, the domain of smart workplaces would be worth $46.11 billion by 2023, featuring a jump from $22.1 billion in 2017, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.94 percent in those six years. 

The projected growth would be fueled by an increase in demands for smart office solutions and sensor networks for energy efficiency, safety, and security solutions, all of which call for IoT advancement in smart office offerings. Rockville-based technology media, IoT For All, which provides content centered around IoT impacts, elucidates certain notable trends in workplaces specifically, caused by its need.

Saving energy 

The highlighted trends are spread across many sectors, ranging from energy to safety. With respect to energy savings, smart workplaces can bring the physical aspects of their workrooms under their control. Lighting, heating and usage of other power resources can significantly improve energy conservation, a need of the hour. 

Technology such as smart lighting and automated window shades could help tailor light intensity and color and cut back on waste. As soon as a sensor realizes there is no one in the room by picking up a presence inside workplaces, such lighting can be turned off.

Increasing productivity

IoT technologies play a significant role in increasing the efficiency of business operations and employee productivity. Reports state that streamlining functions and automating certain processes, repetitive tasks using voice-enabled smart assistants such as Alexa and syncing them with IoT devices can increase employee productivity.

Also, concerning the current remote working trend, the greater the number of connected devices and shared networks, the better the situation is. Considering that workplaces would be moving towards a hybrid working model, as reported by Mckinsey, this is one area where the disruption caused by IoT would remain significant.

Safe environment 

Notable smart workplaces include security cameras, smart locks and a range of sensors to control temperature and even pass systems. That asunder, given the pandemic, IoT has changed the concept of safety in a workplace, helping businesses get their workforces back on the job safely. The aforementioned WEF report indicates how enterprises are using technologies such as PwC Check-in, which uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies to enable contact tracing. This can even identify users who would have been exposed to an infected person in a workplace. 

Changed market opportunities 

The Mckinsey report mentioned above draws a positive connection between the implementation of IoT devices and the market growth opportunities it brings to the table. By segregating the involved players, the report states that smart devices such as connected devices, cars, and other manufacturers fall under the most mature category and enjoy the most healthy growth. While that remains obvious, the report stresses that cloud computing (which has also been growing in adoption), empowered by analytics and computational tools that can interpret, visualize and produce insights from device data, would witness favorable growth.

These trends come with concerns. Concerns about its penetration numbers, the compromised privacy of individuals, data, and other problems stemming from incidents such as the Mirai Botnet attack (an IoT botnet cyberattack powered by malware) cannot be brushed aside. However, despite concerns, it is evident that the emergence of IoT has caused significant disruption across numerous industries and workplaces and is on a path to evolve further.

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