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Employee Engagement: The Purpose Behind IoT Systems that You Might Be Missing

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Today, technology can help organizations achieve amazing things, especially Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Preventative maintenance, the elimination of machine downtime—it’s all great. But, with all of the technology talk, we often forget that it’s our job as business leaders to use technology to drive and scale human connectivity.

It’s our business leaders’ job to use technology to take our resources from good to great and from efficient to extraordinarily efficient, because data alone can only do so much. Data puts us in the position to evolve customer service, but real change also stems from your greatest assets: your employees. When we equip and empower employees to be successful at their jobs, they also become happier and more engaged. And while happiness may seem like a fluffy concept, it’s a key driver of employee productivity. With U.S. businesses losing $450-$550 billion dollars a year due to active disengagement (Gallup 2013) happiness that creates engagement is no small win.

So now I have to ask: Have you thought about how the Internet of Things and employee engagement go hand-in-hand? If not, it’s time to start. Here are three key ways IoT systems can better your business through employee engagement.

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1. Empower employees with data.

Data that employees can utilize for customer services makes for better outcomes. Those better outcomes make for more encouraged and engaged employees.

Connected products create an opportunity for employees to know more when disgruntled customers call in about a problem, and they’re equipped with more than just a transcript to help.

Employees who have greater insight can resolve issues faster and more frequently, leading to greater efficiencies and first-call resolutions– not to mention happier customers.

Access to real-time data can also help to surprise and delight customers. Just remember,  that surprise and delight will soon turn into an expectation. Better outcomes and surprise and delight aren’t just great for customer service, but it makes employees feel more successful at their jobs too. Remember, passion and engagement comes from being empowered and enabled to be good at what you do.

2. Engaged employees act like owners.

When employees are empowered to make autonomous decisions, they feel (and act) like owners– giving managers an opportunity to level-up.

Access to actionable data gives front-line workers the information they need to take autonomous actions and experience emergent leadership. With more employees making real-time decisions, time spent in the “chain of command” decreases. Those on the front-lines feel more empowered, while managers and more strategic employees have more time for higher-level activities—a chain reaction that increases engagement levels throughout the organization.

Connected products also help organizations align employees to its mission and goals. By understanding the company’s desired outcomes, employees can make decisions based on clearly-defined goals—not guesses.chsh-logo-300x118

One solution, Clean Hands Safe Hands (CHSH), empowers hospitals to use a set of company-wide metrics for hand hygiene compliance. With the CHSH system in place, staff badges are equipped with a sensor that tracks all hygiene events. Data analytics and reporting allow hospitals to benchmark performance, identify opportunities for coaching and praise, and share a dashboard of hospital compliance guidelines. This transparency helps create good habits and change behaviors. It can also lead to a reduction in healthcare associated infections by 40-70%. With that kind of reduction, a 200 bed hospital with the system installed can save up to $1M per year (CHSH 2015).

3. Connected products create opportunities for higher value employee contributions– from the front-lines up.

Today, over 80% of employees feel their skills aren’t being put to full use (Lumesse 2011). Employees want to do more, but it’s common for corporate technology investments to focus on improving the efficiency only of high cost knowledge workers. That’s changing. Connected devices can empower workers at every level to perform their jobs with greater efficiency, productivity, and even safety. Front-line workers are becoming information workers. That’s technology turning humans into extraordinary resources.

Organizations must give employees the systems and tools to make the most valuable contribution possible. When employees are able to solve customer problems they’re more engaged with their work. Decentralized decision-making and a set shared metrics gives not only front-line workers, but everyone in the organization, the opportunity to level-up. And finally, employees want to do more, they want to make the most valuable impact possible, and it’s your job to give them the tools to do so.

Keith Rabois, Partner at Khosla Ventures, puts it best, “It’s your job to rigorously ask: ‘how do I make people more successful? What things can I give them to make them more valuable per day?’ You have to create tools that enable people to make decisions at the same level you would make them yourself.”

City of Visalia Upgrades Public Transit with Verizon 4G LTE

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The city of Visalia had a cellular solution for their public transit system but it was built on a 2G network.  As 2G networks are slowly phased out over the next few years, coverage is becoming increasingly inconsistent.

With the impending shut down of 2G, Visalia needed a way to modernize their public transit system. They worked with Digi to deploy the TransPort WR44 R throughout their fleet of public transit buses, in order to provide their buses with high speed, 4G LTE connectivity.

[meteor_slideshow slideshow=”Visalia”]

This rugged cellular router connected over Verizon’s 4G LTE network provides multiple benefits to the city’s public transit system:

  • Security and safety with access to live video from the bus
  • Ability to offer value added services like free Wi-Fi to passengers
  • Reliable and secure connection to process ticket sales

In one month, customers downloaded roughly 540 GB of data across the entire fleet and an estimated 3,200-3,500 passengers accessed the free Wi-Fi. Overall, a reliable and high-speed cellular connection provides the heartbeat for the entire transit system and is guaranteed to last for years to come.

If you want to learn more about how Digi worked with Visalia to upgrade their public transit system, click here to read the full customer story.

A Better Way to Build Your Next Project: Software Tools for XBee

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The open source movement and strong maker community has led to the creation of a number platforms that give developers a quick and efficient way to create a proof of concept, prototype, or even a final product. We’ve discovered and created quite a few that involve XBee over the last several years so we put some of our favorites in one place for you.connect-devices-to-the-cloud (1)

XBee Java Library
You may remember we released the XBee Java Library earlier this year. This library was created in-house at Digi, so our customers can get to market more quickly with their Java based applications, but we also wanted to share it with the rest of you XBee developers out there. Feel free to make your own contributions! Access the library on Github.

XBee Arduino Library
A few years ago, Andrew Rapp created this extremely useful library for projects involving Arduino and XBee wireless communication. The project supports both Series 1 (802.15.4) and Series 2 (ZigBee) XBee radios. Another fellow XBee’er, Boris, supplemented this library by writing a helpful blog post to help get you startedThe library is available here on Github.

XBee Internet Gateway – XIG
Initially created by Rob Faludi to easily connect XBee to the Internet, the XIG runs on Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers as well as ConnectPort Gateways. If you’re looking to integrate your XBee networks with online databases, web pages, social networks, or other online services this is the starting point for your IoT application. The XIG is available for download here.

Rob has also compiled a list of all XBee libraries living out on the Internet including Max MSP and Python. You can view that on Digi’s Examples site here.

Third Party Development Platforms

In addition to some of the tools we’ve created at Digi, there are a number of companies solely focused on creating development platforms for rapid prototyping and product creation.

macchina.io
macchina.io is an open source software toolkit for quickly building embedded applications for the Internet of Things that run on Linux-based devices like the Raspberry Pi and Beaglebone. macchina.io implements a web-enabled, modular and extensible JavaScript and C++ runtime environment to enable applications to talk to various sensors, devices, and cloud services. The first release of macchina.io even includes support for XBee ZigBee radios.

Temboo
Temboo is a platform that simplifies interactions between multiple APIs, so you don’t need to spend hours combing through programming details, but rather focus on creating your IoT application. You can easily generate code in multiple languages for tasks like posting to Twitter, creating Google Calendar events, or more advanced processes like monitoring urban noise levels.

Once the code is generated it can simply be copy and pasted into an IDE. Temboo’s library contains thousands of Choreos that handle API interactions, work with databases, perform code utility functions, and more. Check out this video that walks you through building an XBee tank monitoring demo with Temboo Choreos.

Looking for More 
Did we miss one of your favorite XBee development tools? Never fear. Just leave a comment below or let us know on Twitter at @XBeeWireless and we will add it to the post!

This Week in the Internet of Things: Friday Favorites

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The Internet of Things is developing and buzzing all around us. Throughout the week we come across innovative projects, brilliant articles and posts that support and feature the innovators and companies that make our business possible. Here’s our list of favorites from this week’s journey on the Web.

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Happy Internet of Things Day | Deutsche  Telekom Blog

How the Internet of Things Will Change the Future of Sport | IT Wire

Internet of Things Relay for Home Automation Using Arduino | Geeky Gadgets

With Meld, Another Step Toward the Internet of Tasty Things | New York Times

Six Things You Should Know About the Internet of Things | Tech Radar

Please tell us in the comments below or Tweet us, @DigiDotCom– we would love to share your findings too. You can also follow all of the commentary and discussion with the hashtag #FridayFavorites.

XBee Tech Tip: How to conduct an XBee range test

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Have you ever wanted to test the strength of connections in your XBee network? Within the XBee configuration software, XCTU, you can perform a range test. This will tell you the amount of packets received and the RSSI values at the local and remote nodes. This video will take you through the steps necessary to perform a range test.

You can download XCTU at this link: http://www.digi.com/xctu

We hope you found this tutorial helpful! Let us know what you’d like to learn in the next XBee Tech Tip: http://bit.ly/xbeetechtip

Introducing The Official XBee Java Library

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Creating XBee applications just got way easier. Gone are the days of toiling away for every inch of code. In order to make it as simple as possible for you to write applications that interact with XBee, we have created the XBee Java Library. This library supports ZigBee, 802.15.4, DigiMesh and Point-to-Multipoint XBee devices!

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The project includes Java source code, unit tests for the library, and multiple examples that show how to use the available APIs. The examples are also available in source code format.

Here’s a list of what’s included in the library:

  • Configuration of local and remote XBee devices:
    • Configure common parameters with specific setters and getters.
    • Configure any other parameter with generic methods.
    • Execute AT commands.
    • Apply configuration changes.
    • Write configuration changes.
    • Reset the device.
  • Transmission of data to all the XBee devices on the network or to a specific device.
  • Reception of data from remote XBee devices:
    • Data polling.
    • Data reception callback.
  • Reception of network status changes related to the local XBee device.
  • IO lines management:
    • Configure IO lines.
    • Set IO line value.
    • Read IO line value.
    • Receive IO data samples from any remote XBee device on the network.

So whether you’re designing an intelligent lighting application, completely automating your home, tracking your dog’s activity level, or anything else you can dream up– you no longer have to start from scratch. Visit github.com/digidotcom for access to the library and more information.

A Year in the Internet of Things: Top Posts from the Digi Blog

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Another year is in the books and the Internet of Things conversation continues to evolve.  As 2014 comes to a close we took a look back at some of our most read posts of the year. Here’s to an equally awesome 2015!

Happy New Year! (1)

 

A Simpler and More Intelligent Internet of Things with Digi and Temboo
Rob Faludi and Vaughn Shinnal demonstrate how to use XBee Gateway and Temboo Choreos to build an Internet of Things Application. In this example, they showcase a prototype that monitors the liquid level of a tank.

XBee in Space
Pretty soon XBee will be sent into space on NASA’s Soarex rocket! This marks the first ever ZigBee network in space. Take a look at how NASA’s team of engineers built this one-of-kind telemetry system.

Heat Seek NYC Keeping Others Warm
Did you know NYC handles over 200,000 heating complaints every year? In order to provide proof of poor heating, tenants are tasked with manually recording the temperatures of their apartments. A group of New York City residents recognized this as a major public issue and founded Heat Seek NYC to efficiently address this overwhelming number of complaints and ensure no New York City resident has to spend winter in a cold home.

SteadyServe
SteadyServe is bringing the Internet of Things to the beer industry. Wireless monitoring technology makes inventory management for restaurant owners and supply chain manager easy with real-time data.

MBed and Arduino Hackathon
We love giving Digi employees a chance to play around and this hackathon was a hit. Each team had to use an MBed and Arduino microcontroller and connect them with XBee. Check out what they built!

What are your Highlights from 2014?
These are just a few highlights from what has been busy 2014 for us at Digi. Let us know what your favorite stories are from this year in the Internet of Things. You can share with us either in the comments or @digidotcom. Happy New Year!

Creative Inspiration: British Arrows Award Winners 2014

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The Digi marketing and product teams took a field trip to the British Arrow Awards at the Walker Art Center here in Minneapolis to get our creativity flowing for the new year. We left laughing and inspired, so we thought you might be interested in checking out a few of this year’s winners too.

Unilever Marmite Rescue

Unilever is well aware of the love/hate relationship people have with Marmite, and they’re not afraid to show it in this ad that was named as commercial of the year.

 

Mercedes-Benz Magic Body Control Chicken

Oddly enough, Chicken was great inspiration for our cellular team. The products they work on are all about stability and control.

 

Honda Hands

This may have been the ad that spoke to us the most. After all, we’re all makers here at Digi and every IoT deployment starts with someone who is willing to think curiously.

 

Hutchen 3D Three Mobile Pony

Because… dancing ponies.

It’s the perfect time of year to get out of the office and find inspiration in unexpected places. Where are you finding creative fuel for the new year?

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