Robot 2

The Internet of Things (IoT) will explode. This is a prediction we’ve heard a lot in recent years as an increased number of devices are connecting to the internet and each other. According to BI Intelligence, it’s estimated that by 2019, the IoT device market will be more than double the size of the smartphone, PC, tablet, connected car, and wearables market combined.

Smart fridges and smart lightbulbs are two regularly cited examples but the IoT will be much bigger than that. Every day we’re seeing more examples of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine-2-Machine (M2M) technology creeping into scenarios that bring us closer to the vision of the future as painted by Hollywood movies. For example, we’ve recently seen hotels and retail outlets in California trial automated staff to serve guests and assist customers. They are a new breed of mobile, semi-intelligent robots that have been created and designed to support and work alongside humans.

While machines are on the rise and technology has altered most industries and professions drastically, there is not a need to worry for our jobs just yet. Research by Deloitte, which looked into 140 years’ worth of data, found that technology has actually created more jobs than it has destroyed. It may be true that hard, dangerous and dull jobs have declined, but there has been a steep incline in knowledge-intensive sectors such as professional services, medicine and education. The workplace of the future will consist of a combination of humans and machines.

Is the future robotic?

So what does this mean for the network and should enterprises be making immediate steps to ready themselves for this change? The numbers would suggest that immediate action is needed. Global consultancy firm Accenture found 57% of organisations are adopting technologies that help employees complete tasks that previously required IT experts. More than 75% believe that within the next three years, companies will need to focus equally on training their people and their machines. This kind of training could be anything from using of intelligent software, algorithms and machine learning.

Businesses are gravitating towards the digital transformation as maturing technology leads to faster ROI and improved efficiency. Gartner predicts that by 2018, the total cost of ownership for business operations will be 30% lower than today because of the wider use of smart machines and industrialised services. The force underpinning this network of connected devices, machines and robots must be robust and reliable to ensure organisations achieve maximum benefits of their technological investment.

How to get your business ready

If we think of these machines as mere connected devices that rely on wi-fi, we can begin to understand the pre-requisites needed to support this transition. Think back to when non-Ethernet devices began to connect to the network, the advent of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and wearables. Each development marked a fundamental shift in networking and the rise of the machines is no different.

The robots in California provide a good example of how these machines will begin to enter the workplace and business need to start preparing for it. According to ZK Research, when formulating the appropriate strategy to underpin these machines, enterprises need to consider the following:

  • Invest in a highly intelligent, distributed architecture with a focus on connecting devices to ensure machines do not go down
  • Collect, store, archive and analyse data from connected endpoints to help refine processes and make better strategic decisions to support the enterprise
  • Individual devices must be secure and their applications must be able to communicate with the network so that data is protected
What will the future hold?

The world as we know it is changing and it is extremely difficult to predict the number of devices that will require connectivity to thrive within organisations. What we do know is that organisations will use a combination of humans and machines to improve business processes and outputs.

If the number of jobs continue to increase as found in the Deloitte research, humans will not need to worry about robots replacing them in the workplace. But, we should future proof our organisations to cope with the developments in the IoT and machines. Embracing this digital transformation will also present organisations with a competitive advantage. It is just essential that they make sure they are making the necessary changes to their network infrastructure to support this future.

By Paul Hennin, Director, Marketing International, Aerohive Networks