The impact of the internet of things on mobile workers

Ongoing developments in digital, computer, and communication technologies are likely to have profound long-term consequences for the nature of work and employment (Brynjolfsson & McAfee 2016). One significant area of development concerns the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT can be described as everyday objects, such as cars, fridges or watches, having internet connectivity allowing them to send and receive data. The IoT is predicted to be a major IT-enabled business trend over the next 10 years. Peppet (2014) suggests the potential for 200 billion connected devices by 2020 and a trillion by 2025, and Mishra et al. (2016) note that according to McKinsey (2013), IoT has a potential global economic impact of $36 trillion. A recent Computing (2016) report indicates that in the UK, applications of the IoT in work settings are most likely to involve the use of tracking devices for internal deployment to achieve cost optimization. For example, an English county police force are deploying an IoT platform to create connected vehicles and 4G streaming cameras that are lightweight and wearable and can stream high definition video. Internet-connected police cars allow police officers to use laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers in their vehicles giving them access to important information while working remotely (Palmer, 2015). Thus, the IoT has the potential to have significant impacts on the organization and management of mobile workers. This study will examine the impact of IoT technologies on mobile work in UK organizations. The main emphasis of the project is to develop user-centric considerations of digital technologies to counterbalance techno-centric research on this topic: the users in this study are defined as both organizations and individual workers. This is partly because various concerns have been raised regarding surveillance implications of these technologies for workers (O’Connor, 2015). This exploratory study has two aims: 1) to understand organizational drivers for the adoption of IoT for mobile work; 2) to explore how IoT technologies impact on mobile workers.