From customer service to manufacturing to hospitality, technology is helping businesses streamline operations, improve efficiency, increase revenue and even find and retain the best talent. In many cases, technology is moving at such a slow but steady pace that businesses are not even aware of how much certain technologies are already enhancing their business.

One example of this is Square PoS systems. When Square card readers were first introduced, they gave the smallest of businesses (and even individuals) the unprecedented ability to accept credit card payments anytime, anywhere with just a simple swipe. From there, Square released entire PoS systems that required only an iPad rather than expensive cash registers. Square can now be integrated directly with Quickbooks that can create powerful analytics for even the smallest of businesses. All of these advancements took place slowly but steadily over the course of a few years, but completely revolutionized small and independent business.

Here are 5 other technologies helping to reshape the modern workplace.

Remote is the New Standard

Not only do different people function best on entirely different schedules, but they also have personal duties and responsibilities that don’t always align well with traditional business hours. When employees are at work but not at their most productive, businesses actually lose out. Cloud technology, however, is giving employees greater freedom than ever before, which also allows them to give their best to their business. When employees can schedule their work schedule around their personal responsibilities, they can give greater focus and attention to each. In addition, cloud technology also allows businesses to no longer be limited to just their local talent pool. Even the smallest of business can just as easily hire an employee in New Delhi as New York.

Voice Assistants

The same technology that is helping manage busy households is now being implemented to help out at the office as well. Home hubs are already capable of dialing phone numbers, scheduling appointments and checking weather and traffic, all of which have business applications. New technologies are being constantly developed, however, that will have an even greater impact on business. X.ai already offers a digital assistant that can check the schedules of multiple team members across the country or across the globe to schedule meetings at the most convenient time for everyone. Soon you will be able to ask your digital assistant for performance metrics, create employee schedules or even assess assets and holdings.

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VR and AR Experiences

Not only are VR and AR helping to create more informed, better trained employees, but it is also significantly increasing workplace safety as well. Delivery drivers can train in a variety of real world conditions from the safety of a warehouse or training center. Customer Service employees and sales associates can interact with virtual customers to give employers and trainers a sense of how they will react and respond in certain scenarios. Trainers can then give real time feedback to help them choose a better course of action or a better response. Beyond training, however, VR and AR will also improve the customer experience as well. German auto manufacturer Audi has plans to create entire VR showrooms that may eliminate large dealerships entirely.

IoT Enhancements

A recent Gartner study estimated that there will be upwards of 20 billion connected devices by 2020. Not only are these connected devices poised to generate an absolute tsunami of data about consumer habits and preferences, but they will also change the corporate landscape as well. From business digital assistants similar to Siri and Alexa to better security and access control, the Internet of Things can do many of the same things for businesses that they are currently doing for homes. Better energy management from smart devices will result in reduced overhead and “smart office buildings” will create a better employee experience.

Robotic Process Automation

When people think of robots, they often think of autonomous machines that engage in movement of some kind. Robotic process automation, however, is more similar to a computer that can actually make decisions. Currently a number of businesses and consumers already use robotic process automation with a simple app called IFTT (IF This Then That). Another example of Robotic Process Automation is learning thermostats or Apple’s Home Kit. For instance, if you turn your thermostat down every night at 9:00 pm for a few days, your smart thermostat will start turning the heat down on its own at 9:00 pm each night. This is robotic process automation at work. These same robotic processes can also help you schedule employees, better schedule your business hours or even help you better manage cash flow.

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One of the biggest fears that many people continue to have when it comes to robotics or machine learning is that computers will take away jobs or diminish the value and importance of humans in some way. Machine learning, however, is something of a misnomer. Machines are capable of learning established processes that they are taught. What they cannot do, however, is make the intuitive leaps that a human brain can. Rather than taking away the most important tasks humans are capable of – creation and innovation – they are instead taking on the kinds of mundane tasks that humans don’t much like doing anyway. Freeing humans up to do what they do best.


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