Each year, there is an explosion of new technology, and computers become more capable, faster and smarter than before. 2019 was no exception, as we saw the Internet of Things (IoT) really take off and reach nearly every industry and working person.
In fact, these changes are taking place so quickly, it’s difficult to keep up. For example, in a survey of 12,000 executives across the globe, leadership severely overestimated how well they met the needs of their workers when introducing new technology. Around 90% of executives said they were doing a good job, but only 53% of their staff agreed.
The workplace is changing rapidly. The best way to stay on top of the changes and attract top-notch recruits is to pay attention to tech trends as they come and go. In 2020, there will be at least 8 workplace tech trends worth noting.
1) Cloud-Based Computing for Employee Management
The use of cloud-based computing has grown in recent years but is now getting to the point where it is commonplace.
If you don’t fully understand the virtual nature of the cloud and the difference between public and private networks, now is the time to brush up your knowledge in these areas so you fully understand how to access your company database anytime.
- Private networks are closed off completely and often only accessible via specific information reserved for employees.
- Public networks are accessible by others, such as customers or guests to the network.
- Hybrid cloud is what most companies go for, making some information accessible to the public, such as inventory on products and keeping other information private on only accessible internally.
Smart companies hire a cloud hosting company to handle their needs. Security can be a big concern with cloud-based computing as it is easy for hackers to gain access to personal data. Businesses specializing in cloud hosting know the ins and outs of securing your data more effectively. With cloud-based computing, you can do everything from speed up paycheck processing to figuring out who should be up for the next big promotion.
2) Blockchain Utilized for Better Productivity
Blockchain is a series of cells all linked cryptographically. Originally, you might have heard about blockchain in regards to cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, but as the technology has advanced, more and more businesses are using blockchain apps as digital asset trackers and to verify the authenticity of products or to better protect data and prevent loss.
The promise of encrypted information and better security is particularly useful for your salesforce and may increase customer loyalty. Transactions are faster and simpler. In 2019, blockchain apps went mobile and devices served as nodes within the chain. Blockchains resist any unauthorized changes to data, so you can limit which employees have access.
3) IoT Apps Streamlined Processes
The Internet of Things seems to increase faster each year. Our homes are connected with smart cameras, doorbells and baby monitors. Everything around us seems to tap into WIFI and connect up to some type of network. Even our picture frames pull information from social media or accept emailed photos from family and friends.
2019 was a year where we became more connected than ever before and it shows no signs of slowing down. According to Statista, there are 26 billion connected devices globally in 2019 and the number should reach around 75.44 billion by 2025.
It only makes sense that we’d use more IoT apps at work, too. Some of the connectivity includes smart thermostats, hue lighting, smart coffee makers, team project management and digital sticky notes.
The IoT allows employers to cut down on busy work and increase productivity. Look for solutions to repetitive work that eats up your employees’ time. For example, is there an app that speeds up compiling a report on customer habits? Another app might map out the route that makes the most sense for salespeople visiting clients in the field.
4) Augmented Reality Trained Workers
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) is increasing in popularity. As cell phones become more advanced, the high resolution of the screens and the storage capacity means workers can now use AR and VR to create new worlds and make adjustments to designs on the fly.
VR can be used to place an employee in a pretend environment where they practice new skills before taking them into the field. While this type of training is more beneficial for some industries than others, nearly every type of business gains from better-trained professionals.
There are many ways VR and AR are already being utilized in today’s business world. The future will likely bring even more possibilities for this tech.
5) AI Took on Employee Engagement
In a Gallup survey of more than 31 million respondents, researchers found 67% of employees don’t feel engaged at work. Companies spend a lot of time and energy finding and hiring just the right person for a position. When they aren’t fulfilled, there is a high probability they’ll leave for a different job.
Figuring out what your employees want before they even know they have a desire takes a lot of effort. Because machines are learning and starting to think more logically, utilizing computers to figure out new ways of keeping your best employees enthused is growing in popularity.
AI can analyze the mood of employees based on emojis and language used in project management platforms and messages. As machine learning becomes more advanced, expect to see companies use biometrics, scanning eye movement, and other vital functions to see how engaged the individual is.
6) 5G Increased Speeds and Connectivity
5G wireless promises to offer wider and faster connectivity for mobile devices than we’ve ever seen before. While the system still isn’t functioning everywhere and is lagging a bit in some areas, people did see the little 5G emblem pop up on their phones. In major cities, networks have their 5G up and running and it is utilized by workers and individuals.
In more rural places, it isn’t available and may not be for some time to come, which is bad news for companies located in smaller towns or the suburbs. However, expand 5G to continue expanding during the next few years until it serves the needs of billions of users. It may not ever be available to everyone on the planet, but it will grow in the same manner 4G did.
Smartphones have become such a normal part of most people’s day that organizations issue work phones to be used exclusively for business purposes.
7) Computers Identified the Best New Hires
Although not new, AI usage seems to be growing for recruitment. Finding qualified people is time-consuming, but now some job hunting software analyzes millions of social profiles and spits out a list of the most qualified people for a position.
Companies can even send out notes to potential candidates, engaging them in a conversation and reaching out automatically without spending a lot of time on someone who might not actually be interested in working for them.
Computers don’t have the same biases as human recruiters, meaning highly qualified candidates won’t be overlooked due to personal preference, appearance or even personality.
8) Robotic Workers Appeared
Manufacturing facilities have utilized robots for years, letting them take over some of the more repetitive or dangerous line work. Their human counterparts often work alongside them, keeping the machine running and double-checking for quality. The shift in the economy from manual labor hasn’t come as rapidly as some feared but is starting to become more apparent.
One example of machines replacing humans is in the fast-food industry. Some McDonald’s locations now have computer kiosks where the person orders their food, replacing the cashier. They pay at the machine and pick up the food at the counter when it is ready.
Little Caesar’s is another example of a shifting technology brought in the last few years. Order a pizza via an app, receive a tray number, walk into the store and pick up your order from the right bin. You never have to interact with a human throughout the process, even though they are there ensuring your order gets filled correctly.
Robots are helping businesses become more productive and utilize the skills of workers already on their team. Look for skills that will help your organization remain competitive in the marketplace by speeding up production or delivery.
Moore’s Law states that computer processing speed doubles every 18 months. This law can be applied to any type of technology. The more we know as a society, the more new things we discover.
The groundbreaking discoveries of today will seem commonplace tomorrow. In 2020, we can expect machine learning to increase and automation to touch more and more aspects of our everyday lives. However, there are things that will be discovered in the next year and a half that we can’t comprehend today.
The best way to prepare for the future of technology is to embrace new products as they arrive. The better you understand current trends, the easier it will be for you and co-workers to adapt to new ones.