The year 2020 is already well underway, and while some are left wondering about flying cars and other types of sci-fi technology, real breakthroughs are being made in other areas, including the workforce. Although some of these innovations have been around for a while, they’re increasingly being used in new and exciting ways. In other cases, modern and next-gen tools have already replaced old or outdated technology.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The concept of artificial intelligence, or AI, has been around for ages. It’s one of the key driving forces behind modern video gaming and this generation’s interactive apps. Without it, our smartphones would revert to their previous “dumb” state.
However, AI isn’t without controversy. A large portion of today’s workforce fears AI-powered robots might soon replace their jobs. Other workers view next-gen AI as a potential boon to productivity and efficiency in the workplace. The reality will likely fall somewhere in between, with some jobs, primarily entry-level roles, phased out in favor of automated, AI-driven systems.
Similar to AI, and often used in tandem with highly sophisticated AI systems, machine learning describes a computer’s ability to understand and learn new things. This includes new actions that help it perform faster and more efficiently as time goes by.
You’ve likely already benefited from machine learning. With it, devices like smartphones and smart home appliances are capable of learning new things and adapting to preserve power or battery life. In the workforce, machines can learn new tasks on an assembly line, incorporate new safety standards or even perform jobs of increasing scope and responsibility.
With widespread 5G connectivity just around the corner, enterprises and organizations of all sizes are gearing up for the next big advancement in mobile technology. 5G brings great improvements in speed, performance and reliability to mobile phone usage. Some estimates are forecasting that 5G will have 100 times the speed of 4G. In that context, it is easy to see how 5G will benefit the mobile workforce.
As a result of all the 5G buzz, and since today’s average employee is now more likely to be equipped with a smartphone than ever before, more workplaces are embracing mobility. Supervisors and managers are even using social media, web-based content management systems (CMS) and online spreadsheets to stay connected with their workforce and monitor day-to-day productivity.
We’re also seeing a vast increase in digitization across the board. This holds true both in and outside the modern workforce. Much of this can be attributed to the rising use of smartphones, but it’s not the only factor at play.
It seems like everything is being digitized in the 21st century. Magazines and journals are being replaced by interactive websites; traditional newsletters have been upgraded to email blasts; and most, if not all, marketing campaigns focus heavily on internet-based demographics.
All of this digital evolution is impacting the workforce in unique and exciting ways. Not only are more employers offering work-from-home opportunities than ever before, but some business models depend entirely on the internet to succeed. In either case, tech-savvy professionals who are comfortable working in online environments will continue to be in high demand in the coming months and years.
Choosing The Right Tech Solution
Given the significant investments in time and resources required, it’s critical that organizations choose — and ultimately deploy — the technology solution(s) that is the best possible fit for their needs. The best way to start the selection process is to look across your organization, prioritize your needs and identify the solution(s) that will address your pain point(s) most effectively. It’s also important to identify which of the trends I’ve noted above aren’t relevant to your specific business and won’t address the most mission-critical needs of your employees.
For example, if you haven’t implemented a BYOD (bring your own device) policy because your team is largely working at one fixed location, the latest mobility trends most likely won’t have a major impact on your business. The vast potential of AI and ML in the workplace are unquestionable, but before making the investment in these technologies, ask yourself tough questions about the impact one or both will have on your bottom line. In other words, don’t just grab for the “shiniest” new technology unless you can make a sound business case for it and will receive a quantifiable return on investment.