Ping! Buzz! Is it a new car photo or a customer alert? – Part 1

David Gurle, CEO at Symphony

Fixing the broken enterprise messaging IoT signal-to-noise ratio

The Internet of Things (IoT) offers a lot of potential for empowering employees and increasing business productivity – getting them the information they need, when they need it, in order to keep business moving, and to inform good decision-making.

As David Gurle, CEO of Symphony says, the IoT also offers the potential to disempower employees and decrease productivity by overwhelming them with information, both important (signal) and non-important (noise). To put it another way: IoT-based messaging will push out both new car photos and customer alerts.

How can we manage the IoT to ensure that we receive the information truly needed (or wanted) – rather than whatever happens to show up on our myriad of communications channels? While information overload is a challenge and an annoyance for consumers, it’s a tangible problem for businesses. We want to empower our employees; we don’t want to overload them. We don’t want them to waste time filtering the signal from the noise.

It’s a hard task, and getting harder each year as the number of information channels proliferate, and as the volume of messages on each channel grows. I am overwhelmed with messages, and suspect that you are too. It’s only getting worse, and filtering gets harder and harder, especially because what may be a nuisance message at one moment may be important at another moment.

Some of my messages are from colleagues, customers, friends and family. Symphony messages. Emails. Text messages. Alerts via an increasingly wide array of social media outlets. Those messages are (usually) relevant, and frankly, I want to see them, but not always right away. A question from a customer is worthy of interrupting my workday; alerts on what my friends are eating today and colleagues sharing a cool photo can wait for later.

Messages sent to me by humans are only a part of the mix. The IoT is enabling an ever-increasing set of automated alerts – many of which I want, like Google Alerts on relevant business topics, as well as reports from our CRM system, and of course notifications from IoT devices like my watch, reminding me it’s time to stand and up and take a break.

The onslaught of non-stop messaging via many media – platform messages, email, text, notification on the home screen of my phone, a buzzer, a tap on the wrist – are clogging the neural pathways. It’s too hard to know what’s important to me, and what can be safely ignored. Yet each message has the potential to affect the productivity of our employees.

Signal vs. noise

Call the important messages ‘signal’. Call the unimportant messages ‘noise’. What’s signal and what’s noise varies based on context, it’s a fluid division. If I’m in a Board meeting, nearly any interruption is noise. I don’t care about a new Twitter follower right now, or even a reminder to take an exercise break. But there might be times I’m more open to interruptions.

What worries me though is the Internet of Things. What it will it mean for enterprise communications and enterprise productivity?

It’s messaging and alerts, some generated by humans who truly are trying to tell me something, but increasingly these interruptions are blitzing me from automated systems. A story matching an important search term came up in Google Alerts or in an internal news feed. A workflow system telling me that a travel expense requires my signoff. Usage reports on the platform. Those are signal. The list of noise messages is much larger.

There’s the real danger that as the signal/noise ratio gets worse, workers – myself included – will begin to tune out. When the watch, wristband or phone buzzes, you start to ignore it… and the messages pile up, just like old-fashioned voicemails when you were on vacation. “You have 157 new voicemails.” We all remember: it was best to hit “delete all” and rationalise that if it was really important, they’d call back.

Another unpleasant alternative: people will turn off the notifications and messaging systems. I’ve already done that with most Twitter and Facebook alerts going to my phone, and aggressively unsubscribe to just about anything that I can. Anything, anything, to cut back on the noise.

In other words, I’m willing to take the risk of missing an important message if that cuts back on the sheer overload. And remember, this is before widespread use of IoT in enterprise messaging, combining rich content like market data and breaking news. It’s only going to get worse.

The author of this blog is David Gurle, CEO at Symphony

About the Author:

David Gurle chief executive officer Author, inventor and leader, David’s ideas have reportedl influenced the major trends in enterprise communications over the last 15 years. He defined Microsoft’s unified communications strategy (Lync) and as head of collaboration services at Thomson Reuters introduced federated communications to the financial services industry. Before founding Perzo /Symphony, he was VP and GM of Skype’s Enterprise Business.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow


9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

IoT set to overtake cloud computing as primary Industry 4.0 technology, Inmarsat research reveals

Posted on: October 14, 2021

New research by Inmarsat, the provider of global mobile satellite communications, reveals that investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to overtake cloud computing, next generation security, big data analytics and other digital transformation technologies in the near future.

Read more

IDTechEx looks at the setbacks and explores how to move forward

Posted on: October 14, 2021

Bill Gates backed a Belmont smart city in the Arizona desert little has happened beyond a land purchase. Authorities demand that the Colorado river’s diminishing water supply is unharmed. Arizona suffers historic water shortage. The Southwest and much of the West is suffering from an intense 22-year drought, resulting in increasingly low water levels, dry

Read more