Interesting Workplace Tech You Didn't Know Existed

Picture of Samantha Hoppe By Samantha Hoppe

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Document processing. Manual data entry. Cumbersome file sharing. Workplace technology continues to change the way we work, allowing employees to work smarter. Chief information officers are now faced with more options that ever for what their company should invest in. The workplace is evolving at an ever-accelerating rate, which means that the capabilities of workplace technology are too. New technology is constantly coming out with the aim to upgrade some aspect of work life. 

Here's a list of recent workplace tech you may not be familiar with yet.

VIRTUAL REALITY & REMOTE WORKERS –

The advancements of workplace technology are having organizations rethink the ‘place’ in ‘workplace’. Boeing, Facebook, DHL and Microsoft are early adaptors in fully integrating virtual reality with their employees. This mixed reality aims to make workplace tasks and trainings more integrated and comprehensive. NASA was the first to use virtual reality to train its pilots, simulating spaceflights. Slowly, more companies started using VR training programs for their staff, like  UPSKFC, and Siemens. It’s particularly popular in fields that require physically demanding and potentially dangerous tasks to be completed, because VR allows you to provide hands-on training in a safe and controlled environment. HR leaders and hiring managers are now able to simulate on-the-job experiences as an aid in recruiting, onboarding and training in a number of industries. 

According to predictions by IT research and consultancy company Gartner, it’s estimated that 20% of large enterprises will begin adopting some form of these solutions this year. Virtual or augmented reality was once perceived as novelty in the corporate world. However, major companies investing in and adopting this technology early on are signaling a future trend, and companies are likely to follow industry leaders.

VR compliments the continued rise of remote workers. Virtual office locations are rapidly replacing traditional office spaces. According to The New York Times, 43% of Americans surveyed preform some type of remote work. Virtual reality aims to provide a more seamless experience for coworkers to connect than the countless communication and collaboration tools that have historically dominated. Virtual reality can transform a simple voice call interaction with a remote worker to an immersive experience.

CYBER SECURITY –

As technology improves to benefit the workplace, so do the skills of black hat hackers. From malware to data leaks and everything in between, cyber security breaches show no signs of slowing down in 2020.  Cyber security threats continue to evolve, and all employees need to be diligent. Countless software options to improve cyber security are available and necessary, but security needs to be infused with company culture to be effective. No one expects to be the target of a cyber-attack, but any employee can be a target. Educating all employees at a company to be security champions empowers everyone to work smarter and decrease risks.

INTERNET OF THINGS –

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the ability of smart devices to connect to the home or workplace to provide efficient solutions for the end-user. A recent report shows that by 2020, an estimated 200 billion IoT devices will be in circulation, and more than 65% of enterprises will adopt IoT products.

Businesses can leverage IoT technology in a number of ways, the major limits being budget and imagination. Increasing energy efficiencies is one unexpected benefit of this workplace technology. Businesses use a massive amount of energy, and electricity, heating, cooling, and machinery are often used in excess. This is because of an inability to monitor or control output. By integrating IoT into the workplace, energy control becomes a more simplified, straightforward process. Motioned censor lighting and smart HVAC systems can help keep employees comfortable, while saving businesses money in the long run.

IoT can also improve day-to-day operations by providing employees with beneficial capabilities. Voice-activated technology, smart desks, enhanced meeting spaces, presentation tools and streamlined communication techniques are all IoT capabilities that are being integrated in to the workplace. These connected tools can increase efficiencies across an organization, positively impacting operational processes.

According to IoT for All, "The Internet of Things is a new way to collect data about your operations and your customers. But because it uses physical sensors or devices it also allows you to interact with your operations and customers. Because these devices are out in the real world actively collecting information or interacting, they are like an extension of you, or your company’s representatives. They extend your ability to perceive and understand, to monitor and control. And because they are machines, they extend your ability to automate and optimize." IoT is here to stay for the foreseeable future and will continue to evolve with new innovative uses.

CLOUD COMPUTING –

Cloud computing describes the act of storing, managing and processing data online, rather than on your own network or physical computer. 

'The cloud' has been a buzzword in the corporate world for a few years and has already been widely adapted. According to Spiceworks, the average company spends 21% of IT budgets is allocated to cloud-based services. Cloud computing has changed the way that the workplace has organized itself. There are different types of cloud set ups for the different needs of organizations, like security, storage size and budget. Benefits of the cloud technology include accessibility, flexibility, collaboration, scalability, cost savings, security, agility, and innovation. Companies need data to be available and modified in real time, meaning that cloud technology will continue grow into mainstream popularity and percentage of IT budget spend. IT businesses have that companies that fail to adopt the cloud in a timely manner risk becoming technology dinosaurs. 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE –

AI-enabled machines are becoming increasingly present as we go about our day-to-day activities, and the workplace is not an exception. Cutting-edge businesses have adopted artificial Intelligence in numerous ways for different departments and needs. From the start of the job application process, AI can be used to pre-screen job candidates, and a fifth of Fortune 500 companies have used an AI-driven interviewing tool.

AI can make some people uncomfortable because it is often thought of as something that will replace humans and lead to job losses. According to Forbes, “AI machines will help us do our jobs more efficiently, rather than replace us. A key idea is that they will take over the mundane aspects of our role, leaving us free to do what humans do best – tasks which require creativity and human-to-human interaction.”

Recently, the New York Times highlighted a customer service centers that utilize AI. While a customer service representative in a insurance company's call center talks to a customer over the phone, AI can help coach the caller’s performance.

“Talking too fast? The program flashes an icon of a speedometer, indicating that he should slow down.

Sound sleepy? The software displays an “energy cue,” with a picture of a coffee cup.

Not empathetic enough? A heart icon pops up.”

Using A.I. to manage workers in conventional 9-to-5 jobs is controversial. It’s clear why executives would want A.I. that can track everything their workers do. Representatives are able to get instant feedback in a way that a human supervisor couldn't provide. However, some employees see interaction with AI as dehumanizing, or fear that their position may be replaced by AI.

IBM has utilized Watson, its natural language question-answering AI platform, in countless applications since it was first introduced in 2010. Last year IBM used the supercomputer to help calculate employee raises with a high success rate. From winning a Jeopardy! challenge to recommending treatment options for lung cancer patients to business uses, Watson's AI can be used in a wide range of question answering. IBM is helping other companies become early adapters in AI with Watson. Personalized customer experiences, streamlined process, and minimized risk are now all possible with artificial intelligence. 

WORKPLACE SAFETY TECHNOLOGY -  

Employees receive more communications than ever before and are distributed more widely across the globe. There are dozens of general communication technologies in place, but how do organizations rise about the noise and get the attention of others when it really matters?

Critical communications for corporate safety can cover a wide range of incidents, including workplace harassment, wellness checks to remote employees, weather closings, reporting personnel issues, business disruptions and alerting employees in case of an emergency. Technology solutions now exists to address these challenges faced by organizations. 

Key personnel can communicate with employees in real-time during incident response. Geo-targeted notifications helps the right message get out to the right people. Remote employees can be easily checked in on with 2-way messaging. Anonymous tips empowers employees to share potentially life saving information without having to worry. Read our 2019 report below to learn how companies are preparing for workplace safety with technology. 

2019 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey

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Written by Samantha Hoppe

Sam Hoppe is Rave's Digital Marketing Specialist. She works closely with the Rave team on emails, blogs, and the website. Favorite topics include state and local government issues, emergency management, current events and feel-good stories. A New Jersey native turned Bostonian, you can find Sam exploring new bars and restaurants or enjoying live shows across the city.

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