At the turn of the 21st century, the Internet of Things (IoT) made way for enterprises and entrepreneurs to enhance and automate their systems. By using a combination of physical sensors and software, IoT technologies continuously connect and exchange data with other devices and systems through the internet.
Under this concept, everyday items have the capacity to be considered “smart” and enterprises have used this to their advantage.
Now, a similar concept is emerging in enterprises called the Internet of Workers™ (IoW). Rather than connecting objects and gadgets in order to automate processes, the Internet of Workers places more emphasis on the person using the technology. IoW encompasses IoT frameworks as it seeks to understand and showcase the pivotal role workers play in the overall success of enterprises and the effectiveness of their business processes, rather than only crediting technology.
These two concepts are often used interchangeably as enterprises look to the latest technologies to better support their goals and resolve key issues. In this blog, we’ll go over the key differences between them as more enterprises begin to adopt more worker-centric solutions.
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The Internet of Things is the practice of using devices with sensors, data processing capabilities and software in order to collect and transmit data. The applied data and the expansion of the internet have led to a rise in both the number of IoT devices available and their uses in residences and enterprises alike. The official term was coined in 1999, but the practice was first implemented in the early 1980s as college students sought out innovation for a vending machine.
The purpose of IoT is to track, measure, report and automate specific tasks for efficiency and convenience. Think of certain tasks going on ‘autopilot’, where important business data is exchanged between the device and the connected software without human intervention. However, human intervention is oftentimes necessary for the continued use of an IoT device and system.
Examples of IoT
By today’s standards, the Internet of Things is simple to understand and recognize in the home, and hard for people to imagine life without it. But, contrary to their popularity in recent years, IoT technologies aren’t developed specifically for home use. Here are common examples of IoT devices:
- Smart Home Appliances and Smartphones
- Connected Security Systems
- Healthcare Monitors
- Connected Industrial Sensors and Equipment
- Self-Driving Cars and Smart Cities
IoT devices have transformed how technology shapes our interactions at home, at work and with each other.
What is the Internet of Workers™ (IoW)?
Disregarding the role workers play in processes and systems is where IoT devices falter in the workplace.
The Internet of Workers™ describes devices with the same or similar functionality to IoT, but as it relates to the worker using it to complete their job functions. IoW devices include sensors, data processing capabilities and software, with a unique attribute that is specifically made to benefit the worker. weavix™ is the first IoW platform, so it includes the processing capabilities of an IoT device, but for the worker, it provides a complete suite of communication features and productivity analytics.
The goal of IoW is to use low-cost compute for workers to perform better and for enterprises to manage and optimize their workforce. By tying IoT data to the worker, enterprises can determine how that data can best be utilized for the workplace.
IoT devices struggle to get adopted by frontline workers because of the concern that the devices will automate them out of a job or continuously track them. Instead, IoW devices are designed to enable frontline workers: making processes more effective, companies more collaborative and creating more engaged workforces. The mentality behind the concept of the Internet of Workers™ helps reduce concerns and ultimately benefits both the worker and their enterprise by focusing on empowering and upskilling the workforce.
Learn more about the Internet of Workers™ in our episode of The Thread with our COO, Blake Carlson, and Marketing Manager, Monica Poe.
Examples of IoW
The concept of the Internet of Workers™ is relatively new. While first introduced in 2018, the idea of building a connected workforce started in the early times of IoT. There has been a strong case made for connected workers by technology leaders, entrepreneurs and industry experts, especially regarding safety and productivity.
weavix™ is the most outright example of IoW, leading in the concept’s advancement and adoption by other enterprises. Workers are given the walt™ smart radio to provide more communication options for the frontline, while also processing activity metrics, emergency response information and resource planning data that can be applied to both safety and productivity efforts. The IoW devices are worker-centric and support workers in their daily tasks, rather than a primary focus on automation.
Is IoW or IoT Better for my Enterprise Long-Term?
IoT technologies are incredibly convenient and useful, but the idea of IoW gives the added context needed to get the most out of all your devices.
For example, in an industrial environment, it’s common practice with IoT to add in sensors to equipment and machines throughout a facility. Now, when the sensors go off due to a malfunction or low supply, a worker is usually responsible for the repairs. So, IoW emphasizes the need for technology that will identify an issue and bridge the gap between automation and human skillsets.
For long-term success, it’s important for enterprises to gain as much context and visibility from their workforce as possible, namely through IoW. New technologies have the potential to make a positive and lasting impact on enterprises but understanding the full scope of the issue you’re trying to resolve, and then being able to measure its effectiveness accurately is of real importance.
IoT devices oftentimes ignore certain aspects and implications and are used specifically to promote automation and collect data in the workplace. The Internet of Workers™ acts on a grander scale; one that incorporates IoT technologies and allows enterprises to strategically look at their business in its entirety to uncover all the possibilities to promote a safer, more connected workforce.
Interested in learning more about what the Internet of Workers™ platform can do for your enterprise? Schedule a demo here.
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