The smart technology that increasingly controls lighting, climate, entertainment systems, and appliances in American homes is now making a splash in the workplace. Companies already investing in the "smart" revolution have been steadily gaining an edge over their competitors.
If you haven't yet modernized your workplace to include smart technology, now is the time to consider it. Today's workplaces looking to stay on the cutting edge are actively embracing automation.
Forecasts peg the smart office market to reach $57 billion by 2025. By not gravitating in a "smarter" direction, you'll likely lose out to competitors in attracting customer loyalty — and, on the hiring side, could lose out on the top talent. The good news is, there are many relatively new AI-driven tools and cool gadgets available to make your office "smarter" and more desirable. Here are five ways you can take advantage of smart technology to modernize your office.
1. Voice-activated smart assistants
Years ago, voice-activated devices were pretty much restricted to sci-fi books, movies, and television shows. These days, what was once only imagined has become real.
For example, about 47 million people currently rely upon smart assistants such as Alexa, Echo, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana to make their personal lives easier. For those who heavily depend upon these devices, why not offer them smart assistants in the office, too? The benefits are many.
Smart assistive devices allow employees to better multitask because they can use them to quickly manage calendars, tasks, and respond to data requests.
Voice-activated devices can report tech issues to IT or tell the smart gadgets, such as Hue and Nest, to adjust lighting and climate settings for greater comfort.
Voice-enabling the office adds a high level of convenience and can bump up productivity as a result.
2. Cloud-based storage and apps
Cloud storage is a biggie — a tech not to be ignored. Companies not yet investing in cloud storage and related applications have already fallen behind the curve. To fully appreciate the power of the cloud means to understand what it can accomplish and the numerous benefits it offers.
Primarily, the cloud enables people to work virtually anywhere, with their work safely collected in one accessible cyberspace.
This appeals to employees because it affords a high level of flexibility, along with the capability to work at an unbroken pace enabled by remote access. (Statistics suggest 86 percent of workers prefer to work solo to achieve maximum productivity.)
For employers, the cloud is attractive because it's cost-effective. It reduces overhead expenses, such as those associated with running servers and performing data backup.
Not to mention, transitioning to the cloud offers a high level of scalability. This means businesses can expand as needed without requiring the heavy investment they'd have to spend when running off local equipment.
3. Devices for the IoT (Internet of Things)
While remote options are a great perk to offer employees, it's not always possible for them to work from outside the office. Many businesses opt instead to modernize their floor plans and facilities, making them more appealing (especially to millennials and Gen Z employees) for the time they spend working in-house.
Companies are adding office niceties such as VR-equipped meeting rooms, efficient learning climate controls, smart desks, and keyless entry.
These devices create a seamless experience for employees, increasing both the comfort and convenience factors. Smart, ergonomic tools and furniture are also appealing to workers because they increase the comfort level and prevent repetitive stress injuries.
4. Ample Wi-Fi capacity
Maintaining a strong level of online connectivity is a vital element in any modern workspace because employees expect and rely upon it. Companies today need to make sure their Wi-Fi signal is strong and reliable.
Additionally, it's important to consider how offering customers free fast and reliable access to the internet is advantageous. (Most customers have come to expect free Wi-Fi anyway.)
Businesses can meet their customers’ Wi-Fi demand while benefiting from it themselves. Take into consideration the fact that with free Wi-Fi, customers tend to linger, incurring the additional benefit of making wait times feel shortened since they become preoccupied when Wi-Fi is available!
And finally, your Wi-Fi connection web page also provides a great branding opportunity for your company.
5. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is rapidly becoming a prominent technology, and at some point, in the not-so-distant future, we'll probably not remember a time without it. Companies not yet on the AI bandwagon should absolutely jump on now and not miss out on early opportunities.
- Chatbots. AI-based technology is useful in many ways, but one major benefit is how it impacts the overall customer experience. Chatbots increase the convenience factor by providing customers instantaneous answers to their questions. Consequently, it frees up employee time.
- AI-customer learning. From a strategic perspective, AI-enabled customer learning is a valuable and powerful resource for businesses to glean data that will help them make better decisions and achieve growth objectives. With the amount of data floating through the average organization, the strategic possibilities of using AI are endless.
- Personalization. As businesses aggregate and use the data they collect, AI enables them to offer higher degrees of personalization, satisfying customer expectations. These days consumers expect, and even demand, personalization in their transactions.
As AI continues to mature, businesses that have already invested in this technology will almost certainly realize additional potential benefits that haven't yet become evident.
It's no secret that customers have high expectations and tend to side with convenience and speed for their purchasing options. Smart office technology, also known as the responsive or digital workplace, can enable customers to receive faster and more accurate results as they look to buy.
Also, millennials are currently the most populous generation in the workforce, with Gen Z coming up right behind them. The tech-centric upbringing of these groups has led them to expect connectivity and accessibility in work (and other) environments to accommodate their habitual methods.
Integrating these five forms of smart tech can really enhance both the employee and customer experiences. Are you ready to embrace smart technology in your organization? If not, what are you waiting for? The more strongly you invest in smart technology, the more appealing your business becomes to workers and patrons alike.