Five Strategies To Modernise Your Workplace And Create A Smart Office

Guest Blog our consultant managing the role
Author: Guest Blog
Posting date: 1/9/2019 10:37 AM
By Laura Gayle, BusinessWomanGuide.org

Smart technology is rapidly reshaping society. From cloud storage and mobile access to the internet of things and artificial intelligence, what was once regarded as science fiction is steadily becoming reality. In response, many employers are finding ways to modernize their workplaces by creating smart offices — not because it looks cool or is the trendy thing to do, but because they've discovered that doing so provides several tangible benefits.

New devices, apps, and AI-driven tools can not only make your office smarter, they also can position you for better marketing and sales efforts and provide competitive advantages in your industry. Additionally, creating a smart office offers both employees and customers a seamless experience and can attract talented millennial workers. Since millennials naturally adapt to tech innovations, they can assist in this transition to bring your company to the next level. Here are five strategies to modernise your workplace with smart tech.

1. Use cloud-based storage


Cloud-based storage offers both convenience and efficiency. Many among today's workforce probably don't even realise there was a time when offices were full of filing cabinets and computer equipment. Now that mobile access has been fully integrated into nearly all workplaces, much of the bulky equipment that previously took up space is disappearing. Filing cabinets? Paper files? Things of the past. Workers today don't typically spend hours every week filing stacks of papers because most documents are digitised and stored in the cloud. Other cloud-based technologies, such as remote workplaces and managed print services, are replacing old ways of conducting business.

Cloud technology has been a significant game-changer for the office environment. Not only are files and documents stored on the cloud, but also businesses are using cloud-based platforms as a part of their services or customer experiences. Think about how much “software as a service” (a model in which software is licensed and accessed remotely instead of being downloaded on a user’s computer) has become a standardised part of doing business. This is all thanks to cloud technology. As time moves forward, expect it to continue making a significant impact on the modern workplace and customer experience.

2. Invest in voice-activated devices


Various well-known gadgets found in "smart” homes or apartments are now making strides in the office setting, too. For example, voice-activated products such as Siri, Echo, Alexa, and Nest are commonly found in the workplace, adding functionality by offering a seamless user experience. Employees speak and the equipment automatically does what is asked — no more fiddling with equipment and trying to get things up and running manually. Voice-activated tech also allows workers to multitask and get things done faster, such as:

  • Coordinating and syncing calendars
  • Sending data requests
  • Ordering supplies
  • Reporting problems to the appropriate departments
  • Streamlining IT requests

These are just a handful of the many tasks voice-activated tech can perform. Businesses have steadily begun to include these types of products to make conference rooms even smarter. While this concept isn't mainstream in the office quite yet, it's not hard to image it becoming the norm within the next few years as this tech fully matures. Companies focused on modernising their workplaces are jumping on the proverbial bandwagon to get a leg up on the competition. These companies will be well ahead of the game when such tech initiatives do eventually become standard in the office.

3. Use tech to put offices in the comfort zone


As modern offices evolve into open-space floor plans, they've become more informal and far more flexible. With that concept in mind, offices today are more focused on comfort — a stark contrast to the drab cubicle environments of yesteryear. Shifting to the open-design work environment has been a challenge for many; however, businesses are finding ways to make this transition easier through smarter tech. Solutions they are integrating into their spaces include:


Smart tools not only appeal to workers because of their convenience and "coolness" factor; they also serve the practical purposes of enhancing comfort, personalising the remote experience, and even preventing repetitive stress injuries.

4. Integrate tech innovations to enhance the customer experience


Businesses are investing in smart technology, and customers are reaping the benefits. As companies streamline their operations and customer service processes, customers are widely experiencing the convenience and simplicity associated with smart tech. Here are some features they currently enjoy:

  • Chatbots for instant two-way communication
  • AI-based customer learning opportunitiesPersonalised insights and recommendations
  • Automation and custom ordering 
  • Cloud storage of customer information and preference history

Many industries are relying on artificial intelligence to improve their services. Businesses that do not offer this level of tech to customers will soon find themselves unable to meet heightened consumer expectations.

5. Use AI to gain a competitive advantage


Perhaps you don't want to go as far as microchipping your employees (yes, this is also a growing trend) or issuing them Segways, but there are a lot of other relatively new gadgets and AI-driven tools that can boost the "smartness" of your business — not to mention, amp up your competitive advantage. For instance, you can use AI to track the habits and patterns of your customer base while they spend time on your website and determine where they are in their "customer journey" with your brand. Armed with this information, you can customise their web experience, along with your communications to them. 

This personalisation can go a long way in your marketing efforts. After all, 80 percent of consumers say they are "more likely" to do business with a company that is able to give them a personalised experience. It's also important to know that research indicates customers want way more than basic personalisation. Using smart tech can easily help you bring things up to the next level.

Smart tech adds significant value to the modern office in many ways. It's unwise to purchase tech because it's trendy, but when integrated with purpose and vision, many company decision-makers find this investment offers significant benefits and, in the end, pays off nicely.

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"I like thinking about how customers experience things and how you’re able to effectively tailor your business to them." We recently had the opportunity to speak with Corin Rogerson, a CRM Specialist and customer champion to discuss all things CRM.  Beginning in the digital space she has taken her holistic overview of customer experience with her throughout her career and built CRM programmes for some of the biggest brands on the market. So how has CRM changed during this time and where does she see it going?  As we see a general trend towards digital first businesses, online platforms and integrated apps it goes without saying that CRM is having to follow suit. For Corin, potentially one of the biggest changes driven by this is this marketing technology landscape:  “I think the main thing I’ve seen is when I first started in CRM there were lots of tools that were offering the ability to communicate with someone through one channel […] and now what I’m quite pleased to see is that some companies are building solutions from the ground up.” This shift from bolted together CRM/ESP’s to streamlined platforms offering the opportunity to build multi-touchpoint journeys now makes it far easier to build synchronised customer experiences.  Hand in hand with technology is the ever-increasing presence of data in decision making, and a growing factor in successful CRM: "A few years ago everyone was talking about Big Data, and there are more tools able to process that data now". But within this is the value that Data can bring bought about through "thinking about the Data that is actually important to you and what you can actually use, rather than just pushing everything in."  But simply having the Data there isn’t enough to immediately achieve results and one of the biggest issues Corin has faced is around data latency and the impact this has on communication:  “In the past if you had Data in 24 hours that was perfectly fine, but now you really need to know virtually in real time what a customer has done to communicate with them effectively […] for instance if a customer’s payment details have expired and there is a lag between them updates and an email going out it can be a really confusing communication.”  However, that doesn’t mean that Data hasn’t played a large part in her successes. Customer Data has huge ties to personalisation (another noteworthy trend in the CRM space) and is often the best way to demonstrate the value a customer has to a business as shown through Corin’s biggest successes:  “Where I’ve been really successful in a company or working on individual projects is always where the CRM team works really closely with the Data team. Over time you can put in really intelligent campaigns.”  So, what is the importance of CRM in today’s climate?  Having experienced the power of CRM across businesses at different stages of their journey CRM is ultimately really important for growth. In the case of start-ups “the focus is very much on acquisition and that is partly because of the priorities in early life” but no matter the size of the business “it’s very expensive to acquire a new customer”. As such, Corin suggests bringing in a CRM team and shifting towards a culture of retention over rapid acquisition as soon as possible:  “As soon as you bring a CRM team on boards […] you can start looking at your existing customer base and seeing how likely they are to repeat purchase […] the more you keep those customers long term, the better your business will do.” Her biggest pet peeve linked to CRM and growth? Data: “There’s nothing more frustrating than not having the right Data available”. Although the overriding advice is ASAP, it’s with the caveat of an adequate Data infrastructure to allow for the insights to be leveraged.  It feels uncomfortable not to acknowledge the elephant in the room and the impact COVID-19 has had on how brands market to customers:  “When the pandemic hit a lot of businesses had to take a step back and think, what are our values, what is our proposition and how can we help people in context to the pandemic.” In an ideal world this would then feed into the CRM team yet we’ve all experienced “empty examples of communications from companies who feel they have to say something about it […] and it doesn’t work, and I think it actually does damage to the brand." Corin’s advice on this? "If I was in a CRM team that is what I would be thinking about. Making sure communication is relevant, it’s useful and it’s something that you will then be remembered for when everything is over.” If you’re looking for an opportunity in the world of CRM, or to build your Customer Insight team, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more. 

The Search For Toilet Paper: A Q&A With The Data Society

We recently spoke Nisha Iyer, Head of Data Science, and Nupur Neti, a Data Scientist from Data Society.  Founded in 2014, Data Society consult and offer tailored Data Science training for businesses and organisations across the US. With an adaptable back-end model, they create training programs that are not only tailored when it comes to content, but also incorporate a company’s own Data to create real-life situations to work with.  However, recently they’ve been looking into another area: toilet paper.  Following mass, ill-informed, stock-piling as countries began to go into lockdown, toilet paper became one of a number of items that were suddenly unavailable. 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But, with a robust front and back-end in place, the app already live, and submissions flying in across the States, they were looking for a Data Science team who could make something of their findings.  “We have the opportunity,” says Iyer “to take the conceptual ideas behind our app and work with OurStreets robust framework to create a tool that could be used nationwide.” Before visiting a store, app users select what they are looking for. This allows them to check off what the store has against their expectations, as well as uploading a picture of what is available. They can also report on whether the store is effectively practising social distancing. Neti explains, that this Data holds lots of possibilities for their Data Science team: “Once we take their Data, our system will clean any submitted text using NLP and utilise image recognition on submitted pictures using Deep Learning. 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