Half of the world's 7.5 billion people are connected to the Internet and we are well on track to hit 50 billion devices by 2020. Yet with all of this activity, there are still many missed opportunities to seamlessly make connected things work for people. As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to emerge, the answer may be right in the middle of our daily existence--in the workplace.

Workplace IoT goes beyond connecting "things" and focuses on how to make your professional life easier and more intuitive. Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix, states that integrating devices within the workspace "can provide real time insights, trigger analytical and transactional workflows and rapidly execute activity that were formally required to have different levels of human intervention." Here is a glimpse into what is possible when we move beyond the era of connectivity into the age of integration.

1. You'll Spend Less Time Setting Up For Meetings

Think of your last big presentation... you've practiced your pitch, assembled your team (maybe some via video conference), poured the coffee and then the inevitable technology glitches occur. Five minutes of fumbling around in frustration can sabotage hours of preparation.

What if, instead, everything was seamlessly connected? When you walk in the room, the lights adjust for the mood and time of day. The projector, laptops and sound system automatically sync. Everything from the background music to the temperature are optimized to your preferences.

This kind of experience depends on GeoFencing and IoT technology that creates a connection between a user's device (a mobile phone or a badge) and a beacon or sensor so that personalized permissions are contextualized and travel with the individual. The beacons not only know when you have entered a specific area, they know who you are and your preferences. It all connects, free of friction.

2. Your Employees Will Have More Flexibility

Beyond overcoming frustration and increasing happiness, the right operational workplace IoT can trigger transactional workflows and increase the ability to rapidly execute activities, even if you're not physically in the office. Telecommuting or enabling augmented reality technologies can put people "in the room" who are actually many miles away.

Imagine how much more empowering it can be to virtually "visit" a warehouse for inventory control as opposed to receiving, downloading and reviewing a static report? Reactions can happen in real time and multiple teams can work on interactive documents so email volume decreases as satisfaction and efficiency levels skyrocket. And all it takes for people to effectively and efficiently work anywhere in the world is an IoT strategy, a secure cloud platform and a robust Internet connection.

3. You Can Communicate More Efficiently

Workplace IoT removes the cumbersome process of connecting the dots. All of the information you need to know about the people you are meeting with is accessible through the smart devices we all use everyday. Whether they are clients, potential customers or co-workers, engaging with technology at this level can help you make every interaction matter.

For example, when you integrate your contacts' information with their social media activity, you can know exactly who you are meeting with and what is important to them. What if your calendar could sync with your meeting participants, creating a dashboard that shows profile data along with what companies they work with, their current location, conferences they have attended and what they Tweeted while they were there? With the right IoT strategy and technology in place, you can turn insights into actionable data.

Why This Matters to More Than Just You

Small examples like these have a big impact when viewed in the collective. Every year millions of hours and $2.7 trillion dollars in productivity -- or $22,900 per job -- are lost each year in the US. This is a major incentive for entrepreneurs and employers alike to overcome workplace inefficiencies. Integrating connected technologies can save time, money and energy.?

"At the intersection of the capabilities of the digital workforce and the power of technological advancements lie opportunities for radical organizational change." This statement from a recent Academy of Management Journal about transformation of "work, work practices, and workplaces" could easily be about workplace IoT.

What Does the Future Hold?

There is no doubt that the world of work is changing. IDC predicts that in five years IoT will be rolled out in every industry and that everyone will need an IoT business plan. So what does that mean for you and how will you adjust?

The best next step is to learn more. In his article, Creating smart spaces: Five steps to transform your workplace with IoT, Matthieu advises business owners to take an assessment of the current environment, examine the improvements to be made and then call in the technology experts.

When used effectively, IoT technologies can transform challenges into innovative approaches. What better place to start than in your workplace where positive change can result in greater efficiencies, higher levels of employee satisfaction and an improved experience? Get ready to see how connecting things can create happier people.