A report released in September 2017 highlighted that many British employees are frustrated by their office environment. Respondents cited a lack of adequate technology to perform their jobs well. For example, less than one in five companies are using instant messaging services in the workplace, even though they have been shown to lower business costs and improve collaboration.
With few businesses using established technology, it seems that British business is largely unprepared for the impact of future technology. Known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, these developments are set to radically change the workplace in the next decade. The same research showed only a minority of businesses are prioritising technology investment.
The future everyday
Many of us use machine learning and robotics every day, from digital assistants (Amazon’s Alexa) to customer service chatbots. Future technology often sounds far-fetched, expensive or difficult to implement, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are eight ways you can harness technology and help to future-proof your business.
Invest in technology
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the reports show that not enough businesses are investing, even in the basics. With businesses so reliant on computers and data, ensure your security is up-to-date and that you are protected. Do your research on new data legislation such as GDPR.
Personalise your offer
Customers are increasingly seeking personalised services. While Nike may offer insoles tailored to the customer’s gait, this level of personalisation isn’t achievable for many businesses. Think about personalisation – can monitoring social media feedback and trends help you to better develop your offer?
Enable remote working
It’s predicted that in the next 20 years remote working will be as commonplace as office work. This imagines an augmented reality head office and virtual meet-ups with colleagues. Whilst you may not be ready for that, enabling employees to work remotely offers clear benefits. Plus, you can implement it with low-cost technology.
Use data effectively
There is a lot of talk about transforming big data into useful data. Businesses have access to more data than ever, which can predict spending habits, customer values, and behaviour. Make sure that the data you have is usable and accessible to employees that need it.
Follow the crowd
There is logic to following the crowd. Some businesses want to be early adopters, implementing the latest gadgets and technology. But some technology fails and future-proofing is a long-term strategy. Let others discover the market leader and jump on board when the early faults are gone.
Forever customer service
Technology allows you to think differently about customer service. Communication, product updates, add-on services can all be ongoing instead of a traditional one-off purchase. Stronger ties with consumers can lead to greater loyalty – use apps, messaging platforms and social media to take advantage of this.
Mobiles have finally overtaken laptops as the dominant communication device. Businesses need to prioritise mobile and develop their mobile offering. Is your website responsive? Do you need an app? Can customers pay online or by contactless? Can your organisation support employees BYOD (bring your own device)? Ensure touch points are mobile ready.
Be future focused and plan with technology in mind. That said, technologies will continue to change, as will customer trends and desires. To keep up, you will need to plan with flexibility. Where possible, design your processes to allow for updates.
New work habits, along with machine learning, artificial intelligence and robots, will bring change to our working lives. Business leaders say that four million jobs in the British private sector could be replaced by robots in the next decade. This amounts to 15% of the sector, with finance, distribution, and marketing most likely to be affected.
While these estimates are daunting, the report optimistically argues that new technology could help to raise productivity and increase wages. Either way, we must plan for change. Integrating technology into core business activities will give you a competitive edge. Otherwise, you risk falling behind.