We’ve been deluged with information about the Internet of Things and its impact on the world, but there’s a critical aspect that’s been missed – the way in which all of that IoT potential is turned into action. Addressing that transformation can be a challenge, but there are ways to make it work. The new streams of data that a legion of sensors will create will yield insights and help create new services. But all of that activity has to be translated into human terms and there are technology and organizational changes that have to take place to make it happen. To leverage the benefits that IoT can bring, businesses have to be able to take IoT-generated actions and integrate them into the way they work. That requires work in interconnection, integration and interaction and it has to start today.

Interconnection is the foundation that can make IoT data available. To cope with the volume and, more importantly, the context, that is part and parcel of IoT’s value, there has to be a capable communications connection. Adequate capacity is important, as the need to move data from source to analysis and possibly back again is taxing existing links (We’ve spent some time assessing the idea of Fog Computing in IoT and its network impacts here.). The context part of the equation is being able to communicate more information along with the data. That’s where using SIP trunks to link to unified communications infrastructure can open the door to more complex integration and interactions.

For many businesses, the processes that run the operation rely on independent systems. One of the advantages of IoT is the data streams generated can provide a unifying thread to help integrate different processes. That integration can bring context to the data that’s provided. Consider how much simpler it would be to get operational information delivered along with location and customer data, for example. Too often, customer interactions start off with a vague indication that something’s wrong and the initial conversation has to spend time simply establishing basic facts. If the current state of the environment is known before the call, it not only saves time, but can reassure the customer that any issue is already identified. Integration of data across systems can make this possible. It can make smart businesses smarter.

To generate value from IoT, businesses have to use the intelligence they’re deriving to drive interactions. We have to move from thinking about on demand services, to having service demanding infrastructure. Knowing that equipment needs service or that stock needs replenishment is meaningless, if that knowledge doesn’t lead to action in a timely fashion. One of the key benefits of IoT systems is that automation can take care of the work of sorting out what needs to be done when a condition occurs and get the right people to get on it. Removing the manual steps of assessing the data not only makes for faster response, it relieves people of the drudgery of pouring over results and lets them focus on more important tasks, like working directly with customers on problem resolution. It’s far better to get a call with an answer, than one with a problem. Linking IoT platforms to unified communications systems can create that action. By getting analysis results into the hands of the right person, right away, minor issues can be prevented from escalating into major events.

Consider a mechanical maintenance business that services multiple locations. IoT platforms with sensors reporting environmental and equipment conditions could create alerts when data is unusual. Integration with UC environments allows something as simple as an email from the platform with the various data points to raise a call to action. The UC system can get the information to the qualified technician who’s available to assess it and even bump a ticket to a call center to contact the customer. Next stage technologies, such as WebRTC, are beginning to open the door to new types of interactions. Imagine the technician getting the data and then being able to get a video feed of the situation fed directly from the IoT sensor to get a more detailed view of what’s taking place before a visit. While it sounds futuristic, there are datacenters that are building in this capability today.

IoT opens the doors to a wonderful set of ways to make businesses more effective and efficient. It takes interconnection, integration and interaction with the systems that run the business to truly make that a reality and effective partners can bring all of this together.

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