With 2018 coming to a close, New Year’s resolutions are on the minds of all who wish to improve themselves this upcoming year. It’s also the perfect opportunity to analyze your office’s goals as well! Don’t subject your business to another year of fussing with outdated equipment and systems that prevent innovation! Digital documents replacing bulky filing cabinets and mobile phones replacing hefty computers was only the start. Now, the gates of possibility have opened.
Give your business a fresh start with the latest IT trends, from document management and security to a plethora of cloud services to boost productivity. Knowing these top 10 IT trends for 2019 will help you decide exactly what technology your business needs to excel this coming year.
1. Chatbots: Your Newest Employees
Have you ever been in a customer support chat and realized you were receiving automated responses from a computer? The frustration is real, but it’s also in the past. Natural Language Processing, or NLP, has been around for a while and it’s finally beating its reputation of being outdated. In April 2018, Spiceworks released a statement projecting that 40% of large businesses will implement the use of Chatbots by 2019. With NLP improving over the years, it’s now able to oversee and analyze human communication through applications like Slack. Also, NLP’s Chatbots are able to recognize if a human ever needs to “step in” to assist a customer. All you have to do is build out the Chatbot to answer frequently asked questions your customer has and let it run its magic. Imagine running a large-scale company with minimal employees. That could be just the help your company needs next year.
2. Many Clouds in the Sky
Get ready to start hearing the term Multi-Cloud. The “cloud” is making an evolution from public and private to hybrid. Connecting the clouds enables companies to improve the efficiency of networking and storing resources. Already, a study from Right Scale reported that 81% of companies utilize a multi-cloud strategy. Next year, 451 Research estimates that 69% of organizations will continue to adopt this strategy. In 2019, companies won’t be wondering if they should utilize Multi-Cloud, but rather how they will increase the optimization of their Multi-Cloud.
3. VoIP Services
Traditional PBX systems are becoming obsolete as VoIP takes over with a more advanced application-based system and options that improve communication efficiency. VoIP systems make it easier to integrate with other business applications because your voice, data, and video are all internet-based. Employees also have access to their office lines from any location 24/7, enabling more reliable customer communication. On top of this, VoIP services are significantly cheaper than PBX, with business’s reporting an average saving of 50 to 75 percent when they make the switch. Companies around the world are starting to recognize its benefits, and Future Market Insight predicts the global market for VoIP services to grow to $204.8 billion by 2020.
4. AI Enhanced Security Solutions
Reflecting on 2018 from a security perspective, one major theme revolves around new AI security tools. AI-based security solutions curate threat intelligence from millions of research papers, blogs, and news stories, providing instant insights to help security operation analysts stay ahead of the game. As of 2017, 12% of enterprise organizations have deployed AI-based security analytics extensively and 27% have done so on a limited basis, according to ESG Research. Because of the analytical advantages AI adds to existing security systems, those numbers are expected to climb in 2019.
5. Print and Digital Convergence
Despite the rapid adoption of digital and mobile technologies, many businesses remain reliant on print to some extent. This is partly due to the need for physical signatures, receipt of paper communications from suppliers, and customer preference. However, technology solutions are being developed to bridge the gap between paper and digital, allowing for easy document conversion. Systems such as ICE (Integrated Cloud Environment) can transform written documents into digital, editable formats that you can store in a cloud-based document management system. You can have your information all in one place, digital and paper alike.
6. Alexa for Business
46% of Americans regularly use digital voice assistants and 42% of U.S. adults use voice assistants on their smartphones. AI intelligence- based products such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home have captured the attention of tech enthusiasts everywhere, and this technology is gradually making its way into the office. Amazon has already launched Alexa for Business, claiming employees can use Alexa as a digital assistant to schedule and simplify meetings, keep track of to-do lists, set reminders, and connect employees through conference calls using voice. The system also allows employees to connect their own personal Alexa devices to join meetings and access corporate applications using voice control. When researching what voice-recognition product is best for your company, keep in mind that Strategy Analytics reports Amazon and Google dominating the smart speakers market by 94%. Expect to see more voice-recognition technology services emerge this upcoming year.
7. Virtual Reality Meetings
Face-to-face interactions are almost always more effective than business done over the phone or behind a webcam, and the latest virtual reality technology is making that possible no matter the situation. MiddleVR has already developed a VR software in which users from different locations can upload models of their products and meet in the same “room” to discuss. This technology is still in its early stages, but don’t be surprised to see it more widely offered next year.
8. The Smart Board
Interactive whiteboards are forever changing the way office teams collaborate. With a touchscreen display to take notes, annotate content, and save progress, these smart boards function more like large tablets. In the past, employees taking notes on analog whiteboards would have to resort to taking photos of the board or slapping “Do Not Touch” signs on it to save their work. Interactive whiteboards remove that hassle – they take the analog notes we’re used to and automatically bring them into the digital world. They allow for things to be written down on the surface, shared, archived, and saved as digital content. In addition, they help teams stay connected even when they aren’t in the same physical location, making it ideal for remote working and contract work. Ricoh and Microsoft have already developed their own versions of the interactive whiteboard, and many businesses are already cashing in on the benefits.
9. Credential Technology
We’ve been unlocking our phones with facial recognition or a thumbprint for years- it’s only natural we start integrating this technology into the workplace. With so many recent information leaks recently, it’s no wonder one of the biggest trends today is in credential technology. Companies need to take privacy seriously while finding new ways to optimize the login process. Instead of signing in to each workstation with long and complicated passwords, a biometric sign in will unlock a computer screen as soon as the user sits down. As credentialing increases, we're going to see more identification and therefore tracking of people in space, via cellular devices using the individual’s physical characteristics. This technology scans the eye or fingerprint in an instant, allowing work to begin as soon as the computer has booted. The added security is a benefit, as every iris and/or fingerprint is entirely unique. As of now, only a few devices support this technology (see: Microsoft Windows Hello), but it’s predicted it’ll soon be available on a mass scale.
10. Smarter Coffee
Yep, even your office’s coffee maker is getting a facelift in 2019! With the newest wifi- and bluetooth- enabled coffee makers, users can control settings through a phone app to set a roasting schedule, temperature controls, and taste preferences. Some, such as the Illy Y5 Iperespresso and Philips Saeco GranBarista Avanti, can even craft customized espresso- based drinks designed through the app. Give your employees the gift of fresh coffee, espresso, and lattes available exactly how they want it and when the need it. All so they can complete their projects sufficiently caffeinated without having to stare longingly at the coffee maker waiting while their precious beverages brew.
2019 is opening new doors for even more office tech innovations that effortlessly streamline workflow and increase productivity. These 10 up-and-coming technology trends will help take your office experience to the next level this upcoming year, from cloud computing and remote monitoring to smartboard collaborations and digital assistants. The future is now -- bring your office into the digital age and reap the benefits!