IT / Technology
How Technologically “Savvy” Do Workplace Leaders Need To Be?
From letters to emails, telephones to mobiles and typewriters to computers, the workplace has already developed significantly in the last 25–30 years. Every workplace is therefore using some technology to operate in the market and is increasingly under pressure to use more. Sometimes the deployment of new technology is a defensive strategy to keep up with competitors, and, at times, it is an offensive strategy to bring greater convenience or value to customers (and get ahead of competitors in the process). In either case, this puts great pressure on organizational leaders to have a sound knowledge of available technology and to keep pace with new development as best they can. So how technologically “savvy” do an organization’s leaders need to be as a result of these challenges?
Organizations looking to bring more technology into their workplace must ensure that it integrates seamlessly with the workflow and empowers users, rather than adding complexity that damages the workflow. Leaders at all levels should therefore take charge of this effort and make ensure that people are well prepared and not overwhelmed when new technology is introduced. This means that they must be aware of the major trends in technology but also think carefully about what can be usefully deployed and when, so as to ensure that it makes the most positive impact possible. So what technology is likely to be of greatest interest to most leaders?
What follows are 10 key technology area that organizations all its leaders need to consider carefully in making sure that everyone is as up-to-speed as possible.
- The Capacity To Work From Anywhere, Anytime And On Any Device
Modern solutions, such as cloud storage and mobile “smart” devices, now permit employees to take their work with them, wherever they go. This means that leaders and employees in general have the ability to work from places like home, hotels, coffee shops, airports and even airplanes and may not even have to have an “office” to go to. Leaders here then should consequently be thinking about developing a mobility strategy that will balance employee freedom with good security and risk management.
- The Impact of Big Data
Organizations are continuing to think about how modern computing power and software can help them to apply the correct analytics to make better business decisions. Much of this understanding is likely to come from unlocking their “Big Data” information, and working out what business questions to ask and what hypotheses can be tested in the marketplace. Leaders here will need to discover user-friendly ways to scrape databases and find critical information from the mass of data they are collecting, often in niche areas that will inform their future strategy.
- Mobile Access to Computers
Individuals can now access a virtual workspace from mobile device operating systems including tablets and smartphone devices. This means organizations can leverage a single technology to provide local and remote users with a seamless, consistent experience regardless for the device they are using or where they are at any given time. Leaders here need to think about where this change can have greatest impact, especially in saving time, energy, travel and ultimately money.
- Cloud Computing
Cloud Computing has already become the dominant architecture for mobile computing and devices and this trend will continue. Leaders here therefore need to think about what can be stored in the cloud, how it is best and most intelligently accessed and how privacy, confidentiality and security issues are best managed.
- The Greater Use of Robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Robotics has already been used to execute repetitive or dangerous tasks in the workplace for decades. However, not only are robots extending their reach into many more processes and more complex ones but with machine learning are becoming less dependent upon having human workers to be there to guide them. Leaders here therefore need to plan where this technology can save time and cost or improve quality of service in a wide array of areas.
- The Rise of IOT and Wearable Devices
Everyday items and people can be given a unique IP address, sensory adapter, and network connectivity and then be a “thing” on the Internet. Wearable devices are a great example of this and are likely to be adopted on a much greater scale in the future in the workplace and with customers. The greatest challenge for leaders here is to think through what this means for their own organization and how they will make integration as smooth and seamless as possible.
- The Increased flexibly of 3D Printing
Although not all businesses may immediately benefit from 3D printing, this trend is not going away any time soon and will have a wider impact than people may think as it means that many physical goods can be produced in low volume and cheaply. As 3D printing gets even more efficient and cost effective, many organizations will therefore be able to save money. Leaders are therefore well-served to pay attention to this technology and assess both its direct and indirect potential impact.
- The Greater Deployment of Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
The popularity of AR and VR in the gaming world has opened up the gates for workplace gamification at multiple levels. For employees and teams VR and AR can help greatly in far more flexible education and training, improved employee engagement and better retention and customer experience. And for customers, CR and AR can greatly increase brand reach, increase flexibility and lower costs dramatically. Leaders here therefore need to plan where to best deploy this emerging technology and in what ways “gamifyng” processes can drive new revenues and help employees to make an even greater contribution.
- The Increased flexibility of Highly Flexible Sharing Platforms and Rise of Virtual Teams
As an increased number of employees work remotely, organizations will need to focus more on how they can help their employees manage themselves and their work and in particular to share tasks using online platforms. Leaders here need to know which platforms are available and what they offer in functionality terms and then ensure that individuals and teams are trained to use them to gain the full productivity benefit.
- Easily Distributed Content Management Systems
The use of greater online organizational information or knowledge systems (or is often called “content” for short) in the workplace will increase. This includes solutions such as systems for remote diagnostic assistance for field sales people and technicians in particular and access to how-to information for service people. Individuals will be able to quickly search for specific content on many devices and get a document or video streamed “just-in-time” with considerable ease. Leaders here need to think through who could and should have access to this kind of technology and which options make the most sense.
Put simply, no leader wants his or her organization to be left behind from a technological standpoint. Organizations that do not embrace new technology are missing out on tools and systems that can let their employees achieve better outcomes than ever before and offer customers better service and new/faster/smarter products that will help to lift revenues and profits. Leaders can take charge of this by paying close attention to a number of emerging technologies such as those described above and thereby help their organizations to keep up-to-date.