There is no doubt about it, 2018 is a big year for new business technology, both inside and outside of the workplace. With new hardware and software throughout both small and large offices, 2018 is the time to seize technological workplace trends and make sense of them before the bulk of businesses catch on.
The Accenture Technology Vision report summarises some of the best technologies to keep an eye on this year: including artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain. Read on for the best emerging technologies 2018 and examples of emerging technologies for your business:
The emergence of collaboration displays in the workplace creates a much more modern, productive office environment. These interactive displays are computer-linked devices, either on wheels or fixed to the wall, that the user can use as a whiteboard and link to internet searches, documents, presentations, collaborate with teams or even use cloud based video collaboration applications to connect with people across the globe.
When considering interactive displays vs interactive whiteboards, displays are definitely the way forward – they are a much more modern tool, with lots of co-working capabilities and less maintenance and cleaning needs.
They can be used effectively in huddle rooms, where groups get together to meet and share ideas. Because the interactive display can pull data and operates as a board which can be written and drawn on, they are ideal for thinking about creative solutions.
One of the most debated new technologies – not just in the workplace but in everyday life as well – is artificial intelligence (AI). It has a somewhat apocalyptic reputation, with many arguing that it could surpass human intelligence. For the creators of AI, this is definitely something that needs to be carefully assessed before crossing that border.
That being said, AI is all around us today. Even an action as simple as using a smartphone or doing a Google search uses AI. Of course, bearing this in mind, AI is used in the office every day. However, it is debatable how much it invades the privacy of workers.
For example, Amazon has created a wristband that tracks the movements of warehouse workers; and some stores utilise name badges which can track where they are around the store and their interactions. These uses of AI are a bit of an invasion of privacy, and could be misinterpreted – for example, someone’s movements in the warehouse could be down because of an unforeseen situation.
Other uses of AI include checking that people are wearing safety items and that nobody has been hurt; as well as tracking employees to designate who deserves a promotion or a pay rise. Algorithms can also monitor racism and prejudice in the workplace. Although controversial, artificial intelligence does have a place in the workplace of the future. In many ways it is the most significant new technology 2018 will use.
Voice search has rose in popularity in all aspects of society in the last few years – including in the office. Businesses that are aiming to be found by Google have found themselves creating content to reach the coveted ‘position zero’ on searches.
Voice search will also have a big place on laptops in offices; HP, Asus and Acer have all said that they will start to use Alexa voice controls. It probably won’t be long before interactive displays will be using voice control as well! This makes it easy for users to give verbal requests for office jobs such as ordering supplies or getting hold of schedules.
Security cameras are also starting to be able to be used with Alexa; making the physical security processes in the office a lot easier. They can be controlled by voice and have many features that will reassure you when keeping your office protected.
Extended and Augmented Reality
Distance is no longer an issue in the workplace, as possibilities for remote work are only rising. Employees can now tap into skill sets of people all over the world, so they can hire the best employees for the role. Using interactive displays, remote workers can easily join in on meetings and contribute to the office in real time.
However, extended and augmented reality can also be used to reach customers that a business would not otherwise; making it a vital new business technology for 2018. Some companies are offering virtual ways to interact with customers and give them experiences that, in the past, they would have to be in the physical place to make use of.
For example, BMW is now offering an AR test drive of its vehicles – so people can actually feel how it is to test drive a BMW from their phone! Although the initial production is complex, this is a great way to reach many more potential customers and to encourage brand loyalty.
This digital workplace technology sounds like a bit of an enigma, and it’s ok to be a bit confused about how exactly blockchain works in the modern office. Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that claimed worldwide fame last year.
So how can blockchain be used in the office? Medium acclaims it to be a very advanced record-keeping system as well as a “ledge that has no ownership, that is shared publicly, distributed among thousands of computers and continually reconciled”. Using blockchain means there is no middle man and offers maximum security.
There are various ways in which blockchain can be used in the workplace, including:
And all of this could be operated with an enhanced level of fraud prevention – pretty neat! Blockchain can be used in all sorts of parts of the business, from HR to PR, and it will be applicable in any kind of business.
Chatbots and Instant Messaging Services
Chatbots and instant messaging are hardly new phenomenon – but 2018 could be the year that they really take the business world by storm. More and more customers are wanting to use technology like live video to see what’s really going on behind the scenes of their favourite business or brand.
Other ways of using instant messaging include customer contact by text. With more and more businesses having Facebook Messenger, WhatsaApp or iMessenger contacts, this meets a growing customer wish to have 24/7 support. Customers are also starting to not care as much about informal contact, which aids the rise of instant messaging.
Chatbots are commonly used on Facebook and on websites, and are a great way for companies to save money on customer service staff for small businesses. Having a Chatbot on your site also increases time on page and decreases bounce rate, which is great for search engine optimization.
MDM (Mobile Device Management)
The BYOD (bring your own device) model has taken the business world by storm in the last few years; nowadays, more and more people are favouring working from their own laptop or tablet. It also significantly reduces business’s hardware costs.
But using BYOD doesn’t mean that devices are not connected in the same way; many interactive displays can link to individual employee’s laptops, mobile phones and tablets, increasing co-working potential.
However, BYOD does give companies some security risks. This is where MDM comes in – before its introduction, security for own devices was very costly, but now there are many affordable MDM options on the market.
With virus watch services costing per device per month, employees can really enjoy all of the benefits of BYOD with none of the risks.
Wireless technology in the workplace: Wireless Charging
Due to the increasing reliance on mobile devices in the workplace – whether this be to use Instagram or partake in a conference call – the need to stay connected and charged is becoming more and more essential. However, the battery life of mobile phones is actually getting worse; just when businesses need them!
Wireless charging provides a sleek, futuristic design without the need for cables which clutter up the desk space. They suit the new fluid and flexible office layouts, one of the biggest cooperate collaboration trends for 2018. Wireless charging offers power at each seat – in some cases, you don’t even need to move your device from the bag.
Wireless charging powers your device by using electromagnetic reduction. Its futuristic design means that it could well be one of the top new technologies in the workplace in 2018.
The future of businesses in 2018 is looking to be exciting from all angles. Investing in these new emerging technologies in the workplace will give your business an edge when it comes to providing the best possible service.
From blockchain to interactive displays, there are a lot of emerging tech that will really help you push your business into the future. Only you can decide what is best for your business, but interactive displays, voice search and the BYOD model are things that all big businesses should be considering to make the best of 2018.