‘IoT Can Be A Major Game Changer In Making WFH Normal’
Says Karen Ravindranath, Director, WebNMS - The IoT Division of Zoho Corp. How does technology guide us in the way forward during such tough times?
Karen continues to say “IOT based Remote asset monitoring has helped our clients to have centralized and unified view of their business operations and visibility into asset performance and health. This is a great enabler for senior management to have continuous monitoring of operations while enabling efficient and optimized remote management for operations personnel”.
But is it easier said than done? Gairika Mitra strives to find out in an engaging conversation with Karen.
How are you building remote Asset Lifecycle Management amid such critical situations?
Assets are key resources for most businesses. Manpower is the other asset which is a pre-requisite to run smooth operations. However, in critical situations such as these, the major shortfall is that of the availability of human resources and labor. Hence Remote Asset Lifecycle Management is now becoming crucial.
Using remote tools and applications driven by the Internet of Things, organizations from various industries can manage multiple sites/ assets and centralize operations through data collated all on a single software application. IoT remote applications can help automate much of the regular inspections and maintenance checks without having to deploy a human resource at the location. Using web and mobile applications, technicians can stay updated of their schedules and do their usual maintenance checks even from their respective homes. IoT can not only help automate the asset maintenance schedules, but also provide intelligent trend reports during unlikely shutdowns and keep the team proactively informed of any downtime or repair firsthand. .
For instance, massive chilling units at large commercial buildings, back up source of energy like Diesel Generators, etc. which need regular maintenance and checking, can now be connected to the internet and operations and management teams can keep a tab of their functioning without having to be on-site. With minimum resources users can plan maintenance activities, schedule maintenance only on-demand as opposed to unnecessary regular checks. Apart from the regular proactive monitoring and preventive maintenance, IoT and digital twin technology can help technicians perform corrective actions on the assets from remote locations. This can save a substantial amount of time and money spent on unnecessary truck rolls. Especially during such periods of restricted movement, being able to perform inspections and checks and program adjustments from the remote end will be of great advantage.
How do you ensure efficient business continuity in the time of crisis?
Ensuring business continuity in times of crisis is a challenge, but enterprises and industries who are connected and have embraced mobility are better posed to address this challenge effectively. Connecting assets to the human capital remotely, thereby empowering them with the relevant information for quick decisions ensures businesses stay on top of the game. In fact, IoT can be a phenomenal influence in creating a smooth IT-OT integration that can help organization stay productive and efficient even during the time of crisis.
Let’s take an example of the Data Centers. With the spike in work from home, maximum uptime is needed for those productivity tools on cloud that are used by employees. In order to ensure that those applications are running efficiently, it is important to maintain the data centers and servers serving those applications. IoT powered Data Center Monitoring Solution can be of great use, since it can completely take care of the environmental conditions of the DC premises, ensure the right temperature of the server units and also help IT steams stay proactively updated in case any possibility of crash is identified. This way IT teams can stay proactive, instead of reactive and also ensure complete business continuity.
Apart from empowering IT teams, IoT applications can help facilities and admin teams to monitor and manage their operations from remote location ensuring smooth orchestration of critical activities with limited human resources.
Are there any cyber risks involved while working remotely?
Data is the new gold, and keeping it secure is of the highest importance. Hence, Security is an important aspect of IoT and will always be a key concern that organizations should take cognizance of.
Data security can be ensured by choosing the right tools and products that focus on securing the data end to end. Factors that one must consider while making this choice are: (i) Security while collecting data at the edge, (ii) Secure transmission to the cloud or the application via encryption and secure storage (iii) Securing users access of data remotely from their mobiles or web browsers and (iv) the Network security which is an IT concern of securing your assets and servers.
Using multiple products and solutions for each of these layers might make this task of cyber risk mitigation daunting, but choosing an enterprise grade IoT Platform which secures all aspects from edge to cloud as well as user access, would be a game changer in keeping cyber risks at bay.
Lastly, does WFH seem to be the new normal for the upcoming few years?
Yes, Work from home could be the new normal for organizations. Most companies are already equipped with the IT infrastructure to handle the work from home culture and achieve seamless communication between colleagues and customers through various business and productivity tools. However, when it comes to the manufacturing sector, the majority of the companies still are not ready with the right infrastructure to empower their factory floor workers, technicians and supervisors with technology that can help them run operations smoothly from any remote location.
IoT can be a major game changer in this sense. The technology can transform the way operations are being carried in the manufacturing sector. The digital transformation brought by the Internet of Things can move the majority of the manual and paperwork to sophisticated, automated and highly intuitive dashboards. The current scenario of global lockdown might be one case, however, even during expected or unexpected natural calamities like hurricanes, floods, etc. when the worker safety is of high credence, Factory automation coupled with Industrial IoT Applications can help the factory workers stay updated with regular schedules, process or assembly line metrics and other factors that need to be monitored for effective operations. Supervisors and floor managers can keep track of their operations and maintenance schedules without having to be on the floor.
This means IoT can bring in the white-collared sophistication to the blue collared jobs. On a strategic level, business leaders and factory owners can have real-time and centralized data of operations and relevant trend reports to help them analyze any given situation and take informed decisions based on actual data.