With so many technologies being touted as ‘the next big thing’, it can be difficult to know which is – or will be – applicable to your businesses.
The truth is that some technologies don’t have a place in certain sectors, and other technologies may only suit businesses of a larger size. So what could work for your business, right now and in the not-too-distant future?
Here we run down five of the most exciting technologies of the moment, and how they can bring increased efficiency, productivity, better customer experience, and business growth to your company.
1. IoT will help improve operational efficiency
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of internet-connected devices that can range from sensors and gadgets to smart home appliances. According to a report by Research and Markets, there is expected to be 100 billion IoT devices by 2025 to generate revenues of close to $10 trillion.
By connecting all of these devices to a network, your business can gather data from a range of new sources and understand more about a particular environment.
For example, a business could use IoT to help it understand climate change, traffic congestion, how quickly crops are growing, how busy an office space is, or whether any of its systems, bots, or machines need fixing.
Depending on the industry, there is almost always a use case. Often the benefits can extend beyond operational efficiency and into new revenue streams. For example, using IoT sensors to prevent manufacturing stoppages or detecting high footfall areas in retail to push targeted advertising.
People-related outcomes are also key drivers for undertaking IoT projects. Among those cited in a Cisco global survey respondents were employee satisfaction (59 per cent), enabling a mobile workforce (49 per cent), and employee productivity (38 per cent).
2. Machine learning improve the customer experience
Machine learning enables software programs to track user behaviour, recognise patterns and learn from experience so that they can constantly improve decisions or recommendations without having to be reprogrammed.
The simplest form of machine learning is the ‘other people who bought this, also bought this’ scenario, which is seen on some of the biggest e-commerce sites and can increase the likelihood of user engagement and improve the customer experience.
Customers love being made to feel special: personalised experiences tailored to their last shop or location, or responses to their online questions in real-time, are ways you can use the data your business collects to create better experiences for your customers.
You need a robust network to support the processing power required to crunch those numbers, so ensure yours has the power required to do the job.
3. Virtual contact centre will free up resources to focus on strategic priorities
A host of businesses now use chatbots to help customers discuss their needs online. This reduces the need for customers or clients to phone your call centre, and means you can focus resources elsewhere in the business.
Chatbots use machine learning to understand what the customer needs and respond accordingly. For more complicated requests, a customer can then be referred to speak to an actual customer service employee over instant messaging or over the phone.
One of the key benefits of chatbots is that a large number of the easier requests can be dealt with simply using a chatbot, reducing costs spent on staffing and office space.
Cloud-based contact centres can help businesses further, by enabling call centre employees to work from anywhere, meaning that businesses can increase the number of employees they have working easily if there is more demand on certain days.
4. Virtual assistants can help to improve staff productivity
There are now several virtual assistants on the market that can help busy employees to better manage their time without the need for a personal assistant.
These virtual assistants use artificial intelligence and machine learning to understand several key aspects of a meeting: if a meeting request has been made, whether it can fit into the employees’ diary, the time the employee has available and the location of the meeting. In addition, the more advanced virtual assistants can understand sarcasm and humour, and respond to various other requests – all helping employees, particularly business leaders, to save time.
Cisco Webex Assistant will help you before, during, and after a meeting. Development is ongoing; its initial capabilities are designed to enable you to start, end and control your meetings with just your voice. There's more to come, every day our engineers are finding new ways to leverage artificial intelligence to make meetings better. For more detailed info, check out our podcast on AI and the future of meetings.
5. Artificial intelligence can cut time spent dealing with documents
There are so many different types of documents to be dealt with on a daily basis, but technology can make the process easier and more efficient.
Consider the number of applications the HR team need to sift through for any one job opening. AI can help trawl through applications, take into account if an applicant has the pre-requisite skills, and then narrow down the search accordingly.
Artificial Intelligence can also be used to sift through documents to retrieve evidence or other important legal findings. And it will help businesses to deal with documents at speed and with more accuracy than a human, meaning that staff time can be spent providing value to the business elsewhere.
These are just a few of the ways that technology can help increase productivity, improve customer experience and drive business growth. To receive regular emails and updates on innovation and technology, sign up for our newsletter.