As the year draws to a close, we inevitably start to focus on what the New Year will bring. Technology is altering the landscape of everyday life and is also revolutionizing the way that we interact through business. What will 2018 bring in terms of technological developments and innovations? We take a look at three main trends we foresee in the year ahead.
1. Artificial Intelligence Innovates
As part of the World Economic Forum "Global Shapers Study", they asked millennials what the next big technology trend is globally and almost a third said AI. Arguably the biggest buzzword of the last year, the prospects of Artificial Intelligence evokes both a sense of fear and excitement for workplaces.
2017 was the year that voice recognition went mainstream with amazon’s Alexa being welcomed into many a household. Virtual voice assistants like Cortana, Alexa, Siri and Google Home are currently leading the way, but with further adoption into the workplace, new industry-specific entrants will likely be added.
Almost every service and device will contain some sort of AI in the next few years. Currently, 20% of companies use chat bots but this is set to increase to 57% by 2021. Some companies are starting to use chat bots for HR that let managers know when employees are sick. Companies, such as Intel, use a HR virtual assistant called Ivy, programmed to answer questions about pay and benefits.
Fully driverless cars will be tested on roads in the UK as early as 2019 and we can expect to see many further developments in the automation industry which will impact workplace transportation.
Artificial Intelligence is shaking up the workplace through accelerating the means by which humans and technology interact with each other. In 2018, we will see the intelligent workplace go mainstream with more IoT integration creating smarter office facilities. This will streamline communications and improve workplace conditions; ultimately increasing productivity.
2. A New Wave of Communication: Post-Digital Human Interaction
Online interactions may have formed the focus of 2017, but this has left some businesses over emphasizing digital strategies and neglecting working with their employees face to face. How can businesses overcome this?
By utilizing technology that focuses on time-saving processes, businesses will improve their services whilst retaining essential human interaction. Okappy’s Market Network for job management, does this by allowing companies to connect with their employees, customers and sub-contractors and also operate remotely through a smartphone app. The simplified UI of the software allows users to quickly access information and manage their jobs through it’s digital workflow, enabling workers to focus on the task at hand.
With the wave of gig economy workers and the use of subcontractors in many industries, smart communication is an essential development for 2018 to ensure the retention of face-to-face communication alongside the digital.
3. Augmented and Virtual Reality Advances
Augmented and Virtual Reality used to only exist in the realms of science fiction - not business. The 2017 film Blade Runner 2049 saw depictions of a twisted world where reality and the virtual intertwine. But, in fact, the world today is not too far away from this kind of future (arguably not quite as exciting as the cinema screen). AR and VR was initially introduced into the video gaming industry, but is now becoming more common in the workplace.
Health and safety in the workplace can be vastly improved through real-time projections, CGI walkthroughs and to-scale image overlays of projects ahead of completion. AR and VR also allow for more detailed and accessible visualizations of projects and workplace environments - thus improving collaborations between teams. 2018 and the years following will see vast AR and VR device innovations and will become more affordable for wider use in industry. Think glasses-free, headset-free and hands-free devices like HoloLamp. The system combines pico projector cameras, computer vision and machine learning to create spatial augmented reality that will revolutionize the way communication and education is delivered in workplaces.
The most exciting element of new technology is that it’s developing at such a fast rate. Tech innovators and disruptors can drive technology in any given direction - but what will be crucial in the business space will be developments that can ease communications and tech that can increase productivity and efficiency.