5 Technologies That Will Change Work Forever
Employees have already seen massive changes in their workplace. With modern tools, they can access their work on nearly any device, anytime and anywhere, making it easier than ever before to collaborate, innovate and be productive. But that is only the beginning.
Here are five technologies that are about to make a huge impact on work as we know it, according to Stuart Downes, CSC workplace offerings lead, and Gary Beckett, CSC global director for workplace and enterprise systems management (ESM) services.
by Christine Neff
1. Wireless connectivity
You walk into a meeting room to make a presentation, and everything is wireless — truly wireless.
Your laptop automatically syncs with the big-screen monitor at the front of the room and with the screenshare set up for remote audiences. Wireless chargers power up all devices in range. The WiFi network detects the number of devices and increases bandwidth to that part of the building. Sound like a dream? “This isn’t technology that’s years away,” Downes says. “It’s technology that’s here, but most enterprises tend to be a bit slower on the adoption curve of these things.”
The advent of ubiquitous connectivity opens up huge opportunities for the workplace in the form of Internet of Things and collaborative digital tools — and upcoming 5G cellular technology will only magnify that trend. For instance, Beckett predicts that live-streaming of video will become “matter-of-fact,” making it easier for colleagues and partners at remote locations to collaborate. “Those things start to open up and expand people’s ability to innovate,” he says.
2. Smart machines
As systems gain the intelligence to perform tasks and make decisions that formerly required human input, employees — even highly educated knowledge workers — will be affected. In fact, a widely cited Oxford University study predicts that 17 percent of American knowledge workers will lose their jobs to machines. Already, artificial intelligence has crept into the service sector to “staff” help desks for workplace IT departments and consumer applications. The technology may expand in the near future to respond to proposals, write legal documents and reports, act as a personal assistant, perform supervisory roles, make staffing decisions and do any number of tasks that currently require a living, breathing, knowledge-based employee. “The smart machine will be very disruptive in the next 5-plus years,” Downes predicts.
With Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg now fully invested in virtual reality (VR), and major tech and media companies joining the craze every day, the technology seems to be on the cusp of finally becoming a, well, reality. Some industries have embraced the potential as early adopters. For instance, the International Space Station now has augmented reality (AR) headsets that enable expert remote support to work more efficiently with astronauts to rehearse for procedures in space. Manufacturers, surgeons and others have used VR (tools such as Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard) or AR (such as Microsoft’s HoloLens) to better visualize and complete complex tasks.
“Today, I don’t see it as a general work habit, but I do see it becoming a requirement for specific use cases with reality rooms appearing in more facilities,” Downes says. While it’s not a stretch to imagine using a VR headset to brainstorm with remote colleagues in a virtual office space, Downes doesn’t see this becoming mainstream in the near future. “For the next 2 to 3 years, AR and VR will be limited, with the consumer market driving enterprise adoption,” he says.
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One of the hottest segments in consumer tech, wearables — gadgets that measure the user’s physical activity, such as the Apple Watch and Fitbit — are starting to make their way to the workplace, and the trend is expected to grow. Employers can find big value in encouraging employees to use wearables to maintain healthy levels of activity throughout the day. “The whole focus is on: ‘How do we prevent people from entering chronic or acute care systems?’ Companies can distribute sensors and get people to sign up and report back on their activity,” Beckett says. Wearables can also lead to the reimagining of the physical work space. As sensors track how employees move and congregate throughout the day, the office space can be designed to meet their different needs. Rather than a traditional desk setup, for instance, the office can support different styles of work, such as social, research-driven and concentrated tasks, Downes says.
5. Data analytics
Big data provides new opportunities and challenges for enterprises, and the technology is about to take another leap forward.
Enterprises can now access reams of data about systems, processes and performance that can be analyzed to create more productive workplaces and tools. “We’re seeing a point where data is more accessible, and data scientists are beginning to drive real value from new analytics techniques,” Downes says.
Data can be used to design more functional spaces, understand the characteristics of high-performing individuals and teams, make better-informed hires and more, all with the goal of establishing a “highly intelligent workplace experience,” Downes says.
At an individual level, employees have become “data managers” of their personal data at work. This task requires a set of user-friendly tools to keep track of HR and benefits records, training logs, contact information, evaluations and more.
Companies not up to par may find themselves losing talent to competitors, warns Beckett. “In 5 years, the digital workplace strategy in major corporations will be the realm of HR. As the battle for talent becomes ever more difficult, the differentiator will be not just in the kind of work, but also in the strategy deployed by the business,” he says.
Making Work, Work
CSC offerings and services are designed to deliver a modern workplace experience for current and future generations of business workers.
CSC MyWorkStyle provides a framework for supporting the growing variety of cloud-based applications and services. We enable existing applications to operate with an expanding universe of devices that includes tablets and smartphones. CSC MyWorkStyle provides a common platform for access and authentication, allowing users to operate onsite and at remote locations in an equal fashion.
CSC MyWorkStyle is designed to take advantage of continual improvements and enhancements with few or no service interruptions. As additional capabilities and functions emerge in the industry, the updates are made readily available to employees.
Christine Neff is a content editor with CSC’s global content team.