For many enterprises the internet of things (IoT) is a very important topic. Given the millions of devices that are forecast to be attached the internet, most enterprises are somehow affected by IoT. As part of IoT effective communication and fast information exchange is a key concern. That’s where enterprise messaging apps come into play. In this blog post we want to describe the importance, requirements and use cases of enterprise messaging apps for IoT.

IoT in a Nutshell

In the broadest sense, the term IoT encompasses everything connected to the internet: IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, smartphones, wearables, home appliances and other „things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, etc. The connectivity to the internet enables all these „things" to communicate and exchange data. Thereby IoT is used to define objects that "talk" to each other. By combining these connected devices with automated systems, it is possible to gather data, analyse information and create an action for a particular task. In that sense IoT can help to drive decisions, learn from an activity and support employees in their tasks. With IoT it is possible to accelerate work flows and automate processes.

The Importance of Real-Time Communication for IoT

To achieve these benefits real-time communication technology is an absolute requirement for IoT applications. There many professional IoT platforms available, that allow to configure, manage, operate and monitor the „things“. Most of these tools provide a solution for the communication between connected devices, because this is a core requirement of IoT. Another important success factor for IoT is the information of humans - the users of IoT. Employees need to be informed of status updates of „things", have to receive newly published data by devices, need to be instantly briefed about critical events, need to be immediately informed about important actions/decisions to take and have to be alarmed about emergency situations. For this kind of communication to employees enterprise messaging apps are perfect.

The Benefits of Enterprise Messaging Apps for IoT

Enterprise messaging apps are made for real-time communication and fast data exchange. Group chats and distribution lists are standard functions. These apps can instantly deliver time-critical IoT information and quickly update employees and selected user groups. This communication could include files, reports as well as photos, videos, voice messages and locations - if it is required for an IoT use case. The large data volumes of IoT are no problem for enterprise messaging apps, which are highly scalable without additional costs being involved. Enterprise messaging apps can deliver the right IoT information to the right people at the right time.

Email, SMS and Consumer Messaging Are No Fit for Enterprise IoT

Email in comparison is rather slow and can lead to outdated information being used. It could easily happen that an important IoT alert stays in an inbox for several hours, before being read by an employee. SMS/texting as another alternative is very expensive. Also SMS/texting cannot handle data or attached reports well. Unified communication solutions do not provide the relevant integrations and support for IoT platforms. Consumer messaging apps on the other end of the tool offerings are not secure and lack adequate data protection.

Solving Security Problems of IoT with Enterprise Messaging

Security is always an important concern in enterprise IoT. For example, in manufacturing and production it is not only about protecting confidential enterprise data, but also about the security of processes and work flows, and especially about the health of employees that are working on the factory floor.
Enterprise messaging apps provide comprehensive security with strong encryption and compliance policies. Enterprise messaging apps also ensure strong data protection and guarantee compliance with important laws (e.g. GDPR). Besides there is no exposure to the internet: An enterprise messaging app can be easily deployed in private cloud or on-premise servers, and then connected to the IoT platform. Therefore with an enterprise messaging app a business can fully protect IoT data and is in complete control of access points as well as storage locations of confidential IoT data.

IoT Alerting, Status and Reporting as Standard Use Cases for Enterprise Messaging

In case of a crisis situation or an emergency of an IoT device the real-time notifications of enterprise messaging apps fit in nicely. Enterprise messaging apps can instantly deliver IoT alarms or warnings to the right employees. Intelligent group chats can not only address the right personnel, but could as well include escalation mechanisms. For example, if no response is received in a group chat within a given time span, then the alert can be automatically escalated to another team.
For all use cases, where an urgent attention and feedback to an IoT situation is required, an enterprise messaging app is a good solution. For example, this applies to situations where an employee needs to update the configuration of a machine, has to decide on the next activity of a „thing“, needs to maintain a device, and so on...

Ease of Use of Enterprise Messaging Helps for IoT

In order to get a message or a status from a „thing“ or to manage IoT, most employees will not want to download a new app or to have to log in to some website everytime. For new tools employees would also require training and support, which they are normally often reluctant to. Employees want to save time&clicks and in the age of information overload look for simplicity in tools.
Enterprise messaging apps with user interfaces similar to WhatsApp provide ease of use. Employees know how to how to use enterprise messaging. By connecting an enterprise messaging app to the IoT platform, employees can communicate with „things“ in their own natural language via chat bots. Employees can use a chat bot to request IoT data, send commands to a „thing", and receive all information in a familiar communication channel. Basically chat bots can be a very easy way to control IoT.

Chat Bots as the IoT Interface

Chat bots use a dialog system for query and response. It is actually similar to asking questions in a conversation with a human. As a benefit employees don’t have to remember IoT commands or interface sequences. The chat bot can nicely lead the employee through the available options for the specific „thing“ - e.g. status queries, reports, configurations or alerts.
Such conversational chat bots can be constantly updated with new configurations and data of the IoT network.
From a resource perspective chat bots as IoT interfaces can save enterprises a lot of money: Chat bots don’t require separate apps for different operating systems and are easier to develop than websites. Chat bots can be developed with small resources and run in the standard enterprise messaging app, while still having all the security benefits.

Broad Field of Applications for IoT

Enterprise messaging is particularly useful and important for IoT in following application fields:

  • Manufacturing and production facilities (e.g. smart factories)
  • Transport, logistics and supply chain networks
  • Medical and healthcare
  • Energy and utilities (e.g. smart grid)
  • Infrastructure and facility management
  • Metropolitan and smart cities
  • Law enforcement (e.g. police)
  • Media industry

Teamwire can be easily integrated in IoT platforms and can be of great help to your IoT initiatives. If you have questions regarding our secure enterprise messaging app and the integration in IoT platforms, please contact us.

 

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