Top 10 Emerging Workplace Solutions and 3 Steps to Protect Them
In a recent Forbes article, contributor Matt Cain spent some time talking about emerging workplace technology. You probably guessed it — IoT and big data touched almost everything on the list. Most notable about the 10 innovations we’re about to discuss were the workplace productivity hacks they enable.
If you’re like me, you can’t help but imagine all the bigger and better things companies can do with workplace solutions that provide automation of simple tasks, intuitive workflows, and better analytics. It’s nothing short of exciting.
Unless, of course, you’re the IT director deploying these next-gen IT initiatives. From that perspective, you may find your enthusiasm quickly hit with a dose of logistical reality. With a slightly different perspective, you may have any or all of the following internal battles surrounding IoT and big data initiatives:
- Mixed terror and excitement
- Planning anxiety
- Budgetary frustrations
- Security concerns and more
What’s behind the cutting-edge digital workplace
So let’s talk about the workplace systems needed to support next-gen initiatives. Because sensors, devices, applications and servers don’t even begin to summarize the list of requirements to collect, store and leverage the data powering these trending modern workplace initiatives.
First, the hors d’oeuvres. Let’s define Cain’s list of emerging technology trends:
- Ambient knowledge: Workplace solutions that use algorithms to customize platforms based on employee preferences — for the goal of process simplification and improved workflows
- Embedded analytics: User-friendly data analysis that is easily accessible to teammates via cloud-based workplace solutions, enabling more informed decision making
- Production studio technology: Tools that allow workers to create and share video, podcast and infographic presentations with increased quality
- Immersive technologies: Augmented and virtual reality for workplace trainings, meetings and demonstrations
- Bürolandschaft: Taking open-spaced office environments a step further to include IoT-enabled “smart” workspaces that proactively deliver services to employees as they move through the office
- Personal clouds: Consumer apps and IoT devices which are brought into the office and drive workplace productivity — similar to how a reporter might use a personal iPhone to quickly capture footage or record audio
- Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs): Think Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and now Amazon’s Echo. But in a couple years, VPAs will proactively initiate complex business processes on behalf of employees.
- Silo-busters: Tools that enable employees to work across silos to generate ideas, collaborate and complete tasks
- Process hacks: App building and development for non-technical employees, which put control into the hands of the end-user who has the most visibility into programming needs
- Microlearning: Short training sessions delivered through interactive modalities like videos, quizzes, text messages and games
Ok, now for dessert: a quick tasting of system requirements.
System requirements for next-gen tech trends
There are three system requirement themes that companies should consider when preparing for current and next-gen technology initiatives. Not only do they allow for availability and performance, but they cover threat protection as well. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) details these themes in Three Steps to Protect Your Business:
- Resilient IT infrastructure: Increase the resiliency of your IT infrastructure using modern products designed with security in mind.
- Network protection: Protect your existing network with robust security-enhancing products.
- Backup and recovery: Backing up your data and ensuring its ability to be recovered quickly is critical to keeping your business up and running.
HPE currently has promotional offers on servers, storage and Aruba networking that support the strong, secure technology infrastructure needed to support things like ambient-knowledge-packed software and process hack apps.
A case study in system requirements
In Insight’s recent Livestream, IoT and Real-Time Business, there was a fascinating example of the previously mentioned tech trends being put to use today. Bob Familiar, national practice director of BlueMetal, an Insight company, discussed a smart fridge his team developed. Its purpose is to keep vaccines in a temperature-controlled environment while they are transported by van for use in typically hard-to-reach locations in developing countries.
The fridge not only preserves the vaccines but also sends real-time data to let medical staff know when something will expire, needs replenishing and more. It has resulted in fewer financial losses for the client and better inventory responsiveness. Take a look at some of the infrastructure and processes behind developing this smart fridge:
“So in order to create a solution like that, first it’s the act of adding these low-cost sensors and single board computers, possibly cellular capabilities for areas where maybe they don’t have rich networking … then we securely collect the right data in the cloud … which can then also send commands down to the devices for doing things like firmware upgrades. Then we do some analytics and, in real time, identify alert or alarm conditions, then route that properly to a service which can send an immediate notification — either an email or a text message. And then you need lots of different storage capability.”
I’ve summarized his description of the process heavily, but you get the point. All of that technology requires infrastructure enablement. So next time your CFO asks how much something will cost, or your VP of marketing asks for a status update on your latest smart platform, send this article. And next time you go to scope out an IoT project, refer back to your infrastructure recommendations to implement best practices.