November 25, 2020 - The Internet of Things is about taking physical objects equipped with sensors and giving them the ability to capture, send, receive and process information.
Automation is about using software to perform certain actions when certain conditions are met. In other words, the software can observe data coming from the IoT devices and initiate a task when the data reaches a certain threshold.
The combination of these technologies will unleash productivity gains for years to come and help all sorts of business processes become more efficient.
And while many of the use cases will be unique to individual businesses, there are some general processes that we are seeing automated across multiple industries. Here are some examples of automation happening right now:
Provisioning of new equipment
Buying new equipment for your company is easy. With a few clicks of a mouse, equipment from almost anywhere can be delivered to your doorstep.
But, getting that equipment ready to be used within your organization can be time-consuming and complicated. For example, a new computer needs to be secured, given an identity in your network and then updated with the software required to carry out its function within your organization.
Automation can make the process much simpler. In organizations that have adopted automation already, it’s as easy as plugging the computer into a server and then pressing a few buttons to initiate the entire provisioning process. Once complete, the computer is ready to be used safely and efficiently within your network.
Provisioning equipment is similar to onboarding a new employee. But, in this case, software licenses will need to be assigned, network access will need to be granted and equipment needs to be assigned.
On top of those IT requirements, the human resources department will need to provide tax information, salary information and benefits information to the vendors handing payroll and benefits.
Again, automation can handle many of these processes and cut down on the number of steps involved. This is especially true on the IT side where equipment and networks need to be kept secure and activity needs to be tracked. Automation can help ensure that a process was followed and no steps were omitted.
Automation is flexible enough in most cases that it can be applied to a wide variety of use cases. Sending notifications fits squarely within this flexible environment and can be used for alerting managers and operators about all sorts of issues – everything from equipment failures to trespassing being detected inside a smart building.
For one of our customers, safety conditions in an industrial setting are paramount. Therefore, this client sends text and email notifications to managers at multiple levels whenever their IoT-enabled facility detects a problem. Incidentally, the system also records the problem automatically in a log that can be reviewed by compliance personnel later on.
Schedule fixes automatically
One area that holds great promise for improving efficiencies in operations is using automation to fix problems as they arise (instead of waiting for someone to report them). The efficienty improvements in this area will come from removing steps needed to initiate a fix once the system observes a problem. In an IoT-enabled environment, the data coming from the equipment will detect a malfunction or other issue and the automation software will create a ticket to track the problem, attempt to fix it remotely and only then schedule a technician to service the equipment with the necessary parts and diagnosis in hand.
Pushing software updates as needed
Another way that IoT-connected devices can benefit from automation is by automating the entire software update process. Networks of machines often have software updates that need to happen at various times. Some machines may not need every update while other machines may have been introduced to the network in the time period since the last update and will require special patches to bring them up to speed with the other networked equipment.
Automation can detect and provide the updates as required throughout the network, removing the need for constant monitoring and manual patches whenever something changes.
Have other thoughts on how IoT-enabled devices or systems can benefit from automation? Contact us today to schedule a meeting and receive a demonstration of our software.