The workplace has changed dramatically in recent times, and technology has played a huge role in that change, completely transforming how we work.
Take for example the rapid advances in communication and collaboration tools that have now enabled employees to work together more efficiently than ever before. And with the rise of remote working, employees are no longer bound by geographic location. This flexibility has allowed businesses to tap into a global talent pool, which has resulted in increased productivity and creativity. This is technology at work.
These few indicators go a long way to demonstrate that indeed information technology in the workplace and its advantages cannot be underrated. And as more companies embrace the workplace tech phenomenon, it is evident that technology and the workplace will become even more entwined.
Let’s explore the importance of IT in the workplace.
The benefits of technology in the workplace
Any business owner worth their salt knows that efficiency is key to a well-run operation. In today's fast-paced work environment, that often means relying on technology to get the job done.
After all, why wouldn't you want to deploy the most efficient technologies to power your workplace operations?
Here are the top benefits of technology in the workplace:
1. Increased productivity and collaboration
Workplace tech tools are instrumental in improving the productivity of employees. When employees have the right tools, they are able to work faster and more efficiently. They can easily access information, and complete tasks.
Imagine being able to work on a project with a colleague who's halfway across the globe. With technology, that's now possible. In fact an analysis by McKinsey found out that over 20% of the workforce can comfortably work away from the physical office for up to 5 days a week which is essentially the entire work week.
Thanks to tools like video conferencing, online collaboration platforms, and cloud-based software, employees can now work with team members in real time, regardless of their location. This enhanced collaboration can lead to faster decision making, increased creativity, and improved problem solving.
2. Competitive advantage
Gone are the days when the competitive advantage was largely driven by financial muscle. New entrants are now using technology in the workplace to outcompete giants with much more financial resources. The best way to stay ahead of the competition is to be an early adopter of technology. When your competition is still playing catch-up, you've already gained a significant advantage.
How do you become an early adopter? It's not as difficult as you might think. You don't have to invest in expensive new technology—all you need to do is be open to using new tools and smart alternatives to expensive ones.
Unfortunately some companies have this tendency to ignore new technologies until it’s too late, when the competition has already taken full advantage and moved on to the next tools. There is no better way to compete today than using technology. And once again it’s not just about using technology, it’s also about getting in early.
It’s no wonder then that the best companies are always on the lookout for new ways to improve their competitive advantage, and that's why they're quick to adopt new technology. So do the same.
3. Improved communication
Traditional communication methods can be slow and cumbersome. They're not always the most efficient ways to communicate in the workplace. But with the right tools, communication is now faster and more effective than ever before. The best part about this is that employees can communicate with coworkers in real time.
In the past, colleagues would have to rely on expensive telephone calls, faxes, and face-to-face meetings to share even the simplest of information. However, advances in technology have now made it possible to communicate instantly regardless of location. For example, tools like email, instant messaging, and video conferencing allow employees to connect with each other in real-time. This instant communication has made it easier for employees to share ideas and resolve issues fast.
4. Improved customer service
Exceptional customer service is the secret card that has steered any successful business you see around. No single business can thrive with mediocre customer service, and failure to pay attention to customer service is a recipe for chaos which will eventually drown your company. With the right tools in place, your team will be better equipped to handle customer inquiries and quickly resolve customer issues.
Plus, customers love to see businesses using the latest and greatest technology. It sends the message that you're innovative and forward-thinking, and that you're invested in providing the best possible experience for your customers.
These are some of the various ways you can use workplace technology to better customer experience:
- Help desk ticketing systems: Help desk ticketing systems allow customers to submit their problems online, which then get routed to the appropriate person on the help desk. This way, customers don't have to waste their time repeating the same information over and over again, which is extremely frustrating.
- Live chat customer support: Imagine this: a customer is having a problem with a product they bought from your company and they need help. Wouldn't it be great if your customer support staff just chatted with the customer online in real-time? This means customers can get the help they need right away. Plus, it's a great way to build rapport with customers.
- Tracking customer data: Imagine being able to access all of your customer data in one place. You can see what they've purchased in the past, what they're interested in, and even their contact information. With tools like a CRM (customer relationship management), you can track all of this information and more. Plus, a CRM system can help you identify trends and understand what your customers are looking for. Armed with this information, you can create products and services that meet their needs.
- Knowledge base: It's always a challenge keeping up with customer inquiries, especially when it seems like everyone is asking the same question. That's where a knowledge base can help. A knowledge base is a database of information that's accessible to customer service reps. It can include everything from how to solve common problems to the answers to customer questions. Using technology to make this information available to your reps makes it easier for them to provide solutions to customers, and it also helps to keep your customer service process consistent. Plus, it cuts down on the time spent looking for information, so your reps can focus on solving problems.
5. Increased flexibility and efficiency
Technology is in fact inspired largely by the need for efficiency, and so it’s no surprise that workplace technology introduces a lot of efficiency. Digital tools automate once manual and boring processes, making them not only fast but also fun for employees.
Thanks to laptops, smartphones, and cloud-based software, employees can now take their work with them wherever they go, whether they're on a business trip, holiday or just working from home. This gives them more freedom and flexibility to balance work and personal life.
High efficiency also comes with the advantage of accuracy. Tedious processes that were prone to errors can now be streamlined with technology. This leads to more accurate outcomes and takes away the common stress of inaccuracies that waste time besides other risks such as reputational damage and lost opportunities.
6. Increased sales
Before companies started embracing technology in the workplace, the sales process was often lengthy and inefficient. It was full of duplicate data entry, manual tasks, and a lack of transparency. But with technology, the sales process can be streamlined, making it faster and simpler. This increases sales by reducing the time it takes to close a deal.
Here are some of the top ways that technology boosts sales:
- CRM systems can keep track of leads and customers, so you never lose touch of this important data that builds up the sales process.
- Social media platforms combined with social listening can help you reach a wider audience and drum up more business.
- Automated email marketing can help you connect with potential customers and drive them to your website or store.
- Intelligent online ads can target specific customers and demographics, ensuring that you're reaching the right people.
- Modern website design and development tools can help you create a website that's easy to navigate and inspire confidence in potential customers.
- Sales teams can use data analytics tools to identify the individual needs of target customers and customize product offerings accordingly. This builds loyalty and trust, leading to more sales.
7. Enhanced security
Security is a top priority in the workplace and it’s only the right tech tools that can deliver this. A good security system will monitor the company’s network including all devices for any unusual activity, allowing employees to work in a safe environment.
Here are some of the top ways technology can enhance network security in the workplace:
- Multi-factor authentication: This is a security feature that requires more than just a username and password to log in. With multi-factor authentication technology, users needing to access systems are required to provide other items such as a code that's sent to their phones or other devices. This code changes every time one logs in, which makes it harder for someone to hack into accounts. Many online services, like Google and Facebook, now offer multi factor authentication options.
- Encryption: Encryption means that data is converted into an unreadable format, so even if someone hacks into a system, they won't be able to make any sense of it. And that's a good thing, because it means confidential information is safe and sound.
- Mobile Device Management: MDM tools offer centralized control over all the devices that are connected to a corporate network. You can see which devices are online, track their location, and even remotely wipe their data if they're lost or stolen.
- Firewalls: A firewall is a system that helps to control access to a network. It can be used to block incoming traffic from outside the network or to restrict outgoing traffic. Firewalls can also be used to monitor traffic and detect any suspicious activity.
8. Improved transparency and morale
When technology enables all employees to have access to the same information, they feel like they're part of a team and that their voice matters. It also creates a level of trust, which is so important in any relationship, especially the one between employer and employee. When employees feel like they can trust their bosses, they're more likely to be happy at work.
Technology can also improve transparency by making it easier for employees to connect with each other whenever they need to. This creates a sense of community and connectedness that's so important for workplace happiness.
The correlation between workers’ happiness and technology has been revealed by many studies, including a recentsurvey by intelligence firm Verint where 78% of employees admit that they are happy at their workplaces thanks to technology. There are higher chances that good technology at the workplace will influence your employees to stay loyal to your organization. Of course, this saves you turnover costs.
9. Workplace technology boosts compliance
Technology can help companies to comply with regulations in a number of ways. First, technology can help organizations create and maintain accurate records. This is important for regulatory compliance because accurate records are normally the first step in demonstrating compliance with many bodies.
Second, technology can help companies to automate various compliance-related tasks. For example, if a company is required to submit monthly reports to a regulatory body, technology can be used to generate these reports automatically. This not only saves time and money, but it also reduces the chances of errors.
Finally, technology can be used to monitor compliance-related activities. For example, if a company is required to conduct regular safety inspections, technology can be used to track when these inspections are carried out and flag any activities that fall outside of the required parameters.
10. Reduced costs
All the above benefits eventually contribute to one huge advantage: reduced costs. Whether we are talking about collaboration, communication, automation and so on, technology cuts down costs wherever it is implemented in the workplace.
The best way to capture this is that with technology, you can do more with less. You reduce bottlenecks that are notorious for draining resources, eliminate the need for certain supplies, and generally make the workplace a cost effective operation.
Leveraging emerging technology in the workplace
Technology is constantly evolving. What was once considered cutting-edge quickly becomes outdated, and the pace of change shows no signs of slowing down. This constant evolution means that the impact of technology in the workplace will always be revolutionary.
As these technologies become more commonplace, they are changing the very nature of work, and businesses need to adapt fast to keep up and take advantage of the benefits of upgrading technology in the workplace. Those that embrace these new technologies will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.
Remember as we learnt in benefit number 2 (competitive advantage), you can't afford to be left behind in adoption.
Here are some of the top new technologies worth embracing, even if it means gradually.
1. Cloud computing
The cloud is having a profound effect on the workplace, enabling companies to tap into a global pool of opportunities. With cloud-based tools, best run by managed cloud companies, businesses can easily collaborate with employees and clients located anywhere in the world. This has led to a more open and agile workplace, where ideas can flow freely across borders.
The cloud is also leveling the playing field for small businesses, which can now compete with larger enterprises on a more equal footing. In many ways, the cloud is internationalizing the workplace, and this trend is only set to continue in the years ahead.
It’s important to note that cloud computing adoption accelerated aggressively during the COVID-19 pandemic, which compelled organizations to adopt many cloud tools.
2. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality can be used by companies in many ways. Good examples include helping employees learn new skills, or training employees for difficult or dangerous tasks.
For example, let's say a firefighter needs to be trained on how to deal with a situation where there's a risk of an explosion. With virtual reality, the fire fighter can be trained in a safe environment, where there's no risk of harm.
VR can also be used to help people with mental health issues at the workplace. Some people with anxiety or depression find that VR helps them to manage their symptoms, and it can also be used to help people cope with PTSD. This provides a mindful environment at work, helping vulnerable employees to remain steady and concentrate on their work instead of being overwhelmed by personal challenges.
3. Augmented Reality
Imagine being able to see the inner workings of a jet engine without ever having to leave your desk. Or being able to consult with a doctor face-to-face, without having to leave your home. That's the power of augmented reality.
With augmented reality, you can overlay digital information onto the real world. And this is a technology that's already starting to change the way we work.
For example, imagine you're a mechanic. With augmented reality, you can see how to fix a problem with the engine without ever having to open the hood. This kind of hands-on instruction can be incredibly valuable in complex work environments.
AR is also being used in more creative ways. Artists are using it to create new kinds of art, and architects are using it to design buildings that would have been impossible before.
4. Internet of Things
Internet of Things or IoT basically refers to the connection of everyday objects to the internet. But what does that mean for the workplace? Well, it means that we're entering an era where everything is becoming smart. Take, for example, the office chair. IoT can introduce some kind of built-in sensors that can tell when one is sitting in it and adjust the settings accordingly for a healthy sitting posture.
Or think about your coffee mug. It might be able to connect to the internet and tell you how much coffee you've had today and how many calories you've consumed. The point is that suddenly, all of these objects in our work environment can become interactive and intelligent. And that's just the beginning of transforming the workplace in many amazing ways.
If you are thinking of implementing some IoT solutions in your company, you might want to check out these IoT firms.
5. Big Data
The thing about Big Data is that it's not just one technology. It's a whole bunch of different technologies, all working together to help employees gather, process, and analyze workplace data at scale. This can be anything from customer data to website analytics to data collected from sensors and machines.
The beauty of Big Data is that it helps us make better workplace decisions, faster. It allows us to see patterns and trends that we wouldn't have been able to see before.
6. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is finding its way to the workplace, to automate tasks. In many cases, AI is already outperforming human workers, leading some to worry about mass unemployment in the future.
However, it’s impossible not to accept that many jobs in the workplace involve tasks that are repetitive and tedious, such as data entry or analysis. AI can be used to automate these tasks, freeing up human employees to focus on more creative or strategic work. For example, chatbots can handle simple queries around the clock, freeing up human customer service representatives to deal with more complex issues. Machine learning algorithms can be used to screen resumes for job openings, identify patterns in data sets, or generate predictive models. According to Salesforce, 73% of IT leaders state that process automation reduces the number of time that employees spend on manual tasks. Meanwhile the market value of machine learning is estimated to reach $117.19 billion by the end of 2027, a clear signal that the benefits are immense.
AI is basically creating new opportunities for humans to learn new skills and work alongside intelligent machines. And whichever way the future unfolds, one thing is certain: AI is poised to revolutionize the workplace as we know it.
If you spare time to look closely at different organizations and industries worldwide, you will hardly come across a successful organization that does not use Information Technology as a whole. This development has made IT an essential factor of success in the workplace.
No wonder the IT department, once a forgotten ‘one man show' in many companies, has now transformed into a fully fledged and vital ‘nerve’ in organizations. It is fair to assert that no truly serious business can risk operating without a properly equipped IT department. This trend is enough to show that the place of technology in workplace is now cemented, forever.
One last thing: As resources will always be scarce, you might want to use Managed IT service providers especially if you are a small but ambitious business. A credible MSP will analyze your business and implement the most plausible technology to drive your workplace operations. This will ultimately give you the competitive advantage you need to take on even the big players in your industry.