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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Using Data Ethically To Guide Digital Transformation

Over the past few years, the uptick in the number of companies putting more budget behind digital transformation has been significant. However, since the start of 2020 and the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, this number has accelerated on an unprecedented scale. Companies have been forced to re-evaluate  their systems and services to make them more efficient, effective and financially viable in order to stay competitive in this time of crisis. These changes help to support internal operational agility and learn about customers' needs and wants to create a much more personalised customer experience.  However, despite the vast amount of good these systems can do for companies' offerings, a lot of them, such as AI and machine learning, are inherently data driven. Therefore, these systems run a high risk of breaching ethical conducts, such as privacy and security leaks or serious issues with bias, if not created, developed and managed properly.  So, what can businesses do to ensure their digital transformation efforts are implemented in the most ethical way possible? Implement ways to reduce bias From Twitter opting to show a white person in a photo instead of a black person, soap dispensers not recognising black hands and women being perpetually rejected for financial loans; digital transformation tools, such as AI, have proven over the years to be inherently biased.  Of course, a computer cannot be decisive about gender or race, this problem of inequality from computer algorithms stems from the humans behind the screen. Despite the advancements made with Diversity and Inclusion efforts across all industries, Data & Analytics is still a predominantly white and male industry. Only 22 per cent of AI specialists are women, and an even lower number represent the BAME communities. Within Google, the world’s largest technology organisation, only 2.5 per cent of its employees are black, and a similar story can be seen at Facebook and Microsoft, where only 4 per cent of employees are black.  So, where our systems are being run by a group of people who are not representative of our diverse society, it should come as no surprise that our machines and algorithms are not representative either.  For businesses looking to implement AI and machine learning into their digital transformation moving forward, it is important you do so in a way that is truly reflective of a fair society. This can be achieved by encouraging a more diverse hiring process when looking for developers of AI systems, implementing fairness tests and always keeping your end user in mind, considering how the workings of your system may affect them.  Transparency Capturing Data is crucial for businesses when they are looking to implement or update digital transformation tools. Not only can this data show them the best ways to service customers’ needs and wants, but it can also show them where there are potential holes and issues in their current business models.  However, due to many mismanagements in past cases, such as Cambridge Analytica, customers have become increasingly worried about sharing their data with businesses in fear of personal data, such as credit card details or home addresses, being leaked. In 2018, Europe devised a new law known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, to help minimise the risk of data breaches. Nevertheless, this still hasn’t stopped all businesses from collecting or sharing data illegally, which in turn, has damaged the trustworthiness of even the most law-abiding businesses who need to collect relevant consumer data.  Transparency is key to successful data collection for digital transformation. Your priority should be to always think about the end user and the impact poorly managed data may have on them. Explain methods for data collection clearly, ensure you can provide a clear end-to-end map of how their data is being used and always follow the law in order to keep your consumers, current and potential, safe from harm.  Make sure there is a process for accountability  Digital tools are usually brought in to replace a human being with qualifications and a wealth of experience. If this human being were to make a mistake in their line of work, then they would be held accountable and appropriate action would be taken. This process would then restore trust between business and consumer and things would carry on as usual.  But what happens if a machine makes an error, who is accountable?  Unfortunately, it has been the case that businesses choose to implement digital transformation tools in order to avoid corporate responsibility. This attitude will only cause, potentially lethal, harm to a business's reputation.  If you choose to implement digital tools, ensure you have a valid process for accountability which creates trust between yourself and your consumers and is representative of and fair to every group in society you’re potentially addressing.  Businesses must be aware of the potential ethical risks that come with badly managed digital transformation and the effects this may have on their brands reputation. Before implementing any technology, ensure you can, and will, do so in a transparent, trustworthy, fair, representative and law-abiding way.  If you’re in the world of Data & Analytics and looking to take a step up or find the next member of your team, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.

Getting Ahead As A Specialist In Data Science

For professionals working in Data Science, the discipline is all about discovery, insights and innovation. Rapid advancements in the adoption of data and technologies, coupled with organisations feeling the strain of the mass of data they have, means that Data Scientists are in high demand. To stay ahead of the competition, companies must continuously look for unique ways to extract insights from the large volumes of data they acquire. This is where professionals from Data Science come in. Their skills lie in correlating data points, mapping out trends and identifying insights that support organisations to action change and/or enhance their growth. Now more than ever, due to the global pandemic, opportunities to move into a career in this space are vast. From Data Scientists, to Data Engineers and Heads of Analytics and Machine Learning, the possibilities for professionals in this discipline are limitless. Here are just a handful of the things you should know for a career in Data Science. Data Science is supporting the future According to the 2020 Emerging Jobs Report published by LinkedIn, the role of the Data Scientist continues to be an incredibly important one within data, analytics and technology. It also shows that, in our core markets, this position continues to be one of the top emerging roles: USA, it is thirdUK, it is seventhGermany, it is eighthFrance, it is tenth Data Science is a discipline that is growing. In the past year, we have seen these professionals demonstrate their ability to adapt into industries such as retail, banking and medicine, where we have seen such sharp change in consumer habits and a step up in global demand. They are all poised and ready to make use of Data Science functions and analytics. Take healthcare and medicine, for example. New collaborations, funding routes and systems for sharing data will shape research from now on. Data supports the way in which we interpret information and provides a means for us to make predictions, spot new trends and developments as well as better managing supply chains and organisational planning. Taking on a role as a Data Scientist or engineer will ultimately be a purpose-driven career, driving future innovations and making a range of business processes simpler and more effective. Professionals require an array of skills The way in which we have become connected today is ubiquitous. It is this level of connectivity that is having a direct impact on the way in which organisations operate (and how their consumers make use of services), due to the growing levels of data that are being collected and are then required to be interpreted and managed. Professionals working within the realms of Data Science need to keep this link in mind as their career and new project opportunities arise. Whilst it is crucial for these specialists to have unique skills such as Apache Spark, Data Science, Machine Learning and Python, they also need to have a clear understanding of statistics, hold business development skills and be clear communicators. Particularly of Data Scientists and engineers, it is imperative to really understand what the customer is looking for from the software, be able to handle multiple projects side-by-side and have excellent end-to-end experience across relevant frameworks. Professionals should take the time to bolster these skills, particularly for technical needs, by completing ongoing online courses, speaking to industry experts and staying updated with the latest iterations of programming and data languages. There are a range of career opportunities for skilled, savvy Data Science professionals with an interest in data and analytics on the table. The discipline is determined by technology and trends, making for a dynamic, rapidly developing industry that is growing at an unprecedented rate. Critically, as the industry continues to advance and demand for skilled professionals grows, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to make your mark. If you’re a Data Scientist looking to take a step up or are looking for the next member of your team, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.

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