Empowering humans in the enterprise IoT

For sure many human activities in today’s enterprise will become redundant tomorrow because of the IoT. Notwithstanding this evolution, for many other both existing and new tasks the economical trade-off will remain in favor of the human. The content and the challenges of our future job will change. But our position in the enterprise IoT is likely to be secured if we manage to adapt, connect and leverage the “Things” to our advantage. Smart eyewear applications and wearable computing solutions are the key to empower humans in the enterprise IoT.

Smart Cloud Applications

Smart sensors and machine-to-machine communication are some of the IoT drivers that will definitely reshape the enterprise landscape and many of its business processes. Today, pre-planned preventive maintenanceschedules or individual initiatives of attentive technicians trigger machine inspections to avoid equipment breakdowns. In the near IoT future, machines themselves can directly request for an inspection based on smart sensor alerts. Quality management processeswill be impacted likewise by the IoT evolution. Manufacturing lines are stuffed with vast amounts of measurement devices monitoring all kinds of quality parameters of both the equipment and the products produced. Whenever parameter values exceed a limit, alerts are given or the line is automatically stopped. This approach remains valid in the IoT factory of the future. Smart quality sensors however, will be capable to exchange data or combine with information from other measuring instruments. These new systems will detect subtle evolutions long before an alert level is reached. Feedback loops and all kinds of regulating systems are cornerstones of intelligent automation and have been embedded in manufacturing assets for a long time. These concepts and methods remain valid in the IoT future. But the power of the control systems is vastly expanded by the lever of the internet connectivity of smart devices.Yet smart sensors are only pawns on the IoT chessboard. The game will be won by intelligent applications connecting and orchestrating the pawns. This is why we should rather talk about the smart cloud applications of the future. These platforms will offer the solutions to connect the broad variety of “Things” spread out over a large geographical network. Smart cloud applications are the conductors of the IoT. Imagine how powerful they become when getting smarter with each feedback loop? This is where artificial intelligence comes in. Embedding AI technology could allow a cloud platform to “self-educate” and to turn itself from an average problem solver into the best conductor on stage.

Role of humans in the digital enterprise?

But what about the role of humans in the digital enterprise of the future? Will they be flushed out by the tsunami of IoT? For sure many human activities in today’s enterprise will become redundant tomorrow. But then again who will install and maintain the “Things”? Who will develop and maintain the cloud solutions? There will always be a need for problem solving skills and for human interaction with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders of the business. And though cobots may invade the manufacturing floor, for many tasks the economical trade-off will remain in favor of the human. Creativity, flexibility of mind and ability to assess the context and the situation are some of human coworker’s advantages. The content and the challenges of our future job will change. But our position in the enterprise orchestra is likely to be secured…if and only if… we adapt and manage to play with the new members of the IoT orchestra. We simply need to empower the people with the same technology. Smart eyewear applications and other wearable computing solutions will inform and connect people on the shop floor and in the enterprise with the rest of the IoT.

This inspiring video of AGCO perfectly demonstrates the human-centered perspective in a working environment strengthened by IoT.