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M2M meets IoT – let’s talk!

Posted by Emily Mason on July 29, 2014

The growing tide of news and noise around the Internet of Things (IoT) suggests that we will be surrounded by machines endlessly chattering away to each other. Probably, exchanging vital information like how much milk you have used in the last week, and alerting your smartphone to the fact that your only remaining carton is on the verge of going sour.

Of course, it means much more than that, and will have some profound impacts and drive many changes, some as yet unknowable. Such are the lessons we have learned from previous experience with the creation of new networks, and intersecting points of intelligence – human or otherwise.

But, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is not, in itself, new. Point-to-point connections of equipment, with unattended fault reporting and remote diagnostics, have been a feature of high-value equipment for a long time. For example, IBM was including this kind of technology into its AS/400 systems as long ago as the late 1980s.

One of the limiting factors to widespread adoption, and a challenge facing the IoT as it is spread and seeks to become ubiquitous, is how to ensure that each node in the network is able to discover and communicate successfully with others to share data. This need for a common protocol, akin to HTTP underpinning the success of the world-wide web, has had a higher profile in the news over the last month with announcements relating to the UK’s Technology Strategy Board funded Hypercat project.

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What exactly does your team do all day?

Posted by Emily Mason on July 23, 2014

Ever been asked that question? Of course you have!

Your field workers are allocated 8 hour shifts, but how do they use that time? How much is used to deliver a service to the customer? And how much is wasted being idle?

The Cognito iQ Radar Chart, broken up into six Key Performance Areas (KPAs), gives us a clear picture of shift performance for any given worker or team, within their allocated shift time.

Within the Productivity section, the breakdown of daily activities shows productive versus non-productive time, and a corresponding score is given for that particular KPA.

Whilst this shows clearly and accurately how productive that worker has been during that shift, it may not be a representation of how the worker performs overall, and so each individual KPA score is aggregated into a single Performance Score.

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Time to raise your game?

Posted by Emily Mason on July 15, 2014

As I write this, Brazil has been trounced by Germany in the Football World Cup, and the Netherlands have lost on penalties to Argentina. Sadly, England’s participation seems a distant memory!

By now, it will all be over. The bitter experience that is the 3rd and 4th place play-off, plus the final itself. And that means the soul searching about what went wrong - and to a lesser extent what went right - in each team’s performance will be underway. In this example, that will be happening all over the world too.

Each will be trying to ‘turn negatives into positives’ and ‘learn lessons’ in order to be better in future tournaments. Do you do similar post-mortems into your teams’ performance? I guess you do. Maybe, you don’t call it that, but reviewing results and planning changes is an integral part of the management process and critical to maintaining or improving your competitive position.

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“Hello Service, my old friend”

Posted by Emily Mason on July 9, 2014

I met with an old friend of mine over the weekend for a much needed catch up. When I asked him how work was going, he launched enthusiastically into the story of the last few months. He works as a service manager for an air conditioning company, which he loves.

“So how come things are so great?” I asked.

“Well it all started a couple of years back…” he replied, going into detail about how he watched the business he adores losing customers day after day through ineffective and inefficient (ultimately bad) service.

“I’d set about finding out how we could improve the way we worked” he explained. “For starters, service is a real-time business - knowing what our workers were doing days or weeks after it happened was just no longer good enough.”

At this point I was intrigued to know why that was.

“Take last Tuesday for example” he said, “one of my guys was called out to a priority 1 call. En-route, he hit heavy traffic from a motorway diversion, and wouldn’t have made the call within the set SLAs. I re-allocated him another job and sent a different engineer who could meet the SLAs.”

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Emerging technology to transform the workplace forever

Posted by Emily Mason on June 27, 2014

This article on ZDNet claims that recent breakthrough technologies, such as smart devices and SaaS are ‘nothing compared to what’s coming’.

Cognito was there from day one of the emergence of mobile technology, early adopters of the ‘new technology’ that allowed mobile workers to always be connected to the network.

Since then, things have moved on a lot, but according to the article, what we’ve got now is just the tip of the iceberg.

Pretty soon, it’s been said that almost every man-made object will be connected over networks through the technologies of the Internet of Things (IoT), effectively the connective layer between the formerly static non-connected world, and the world of PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

In the consumer world, this could mean, for example, a connected washing machine would be able to report energy usage and cycle settings to a smartphone app.

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