Just as homes are quickly becoming "smarter," so too will more businesses in 2019.
Thanks to rapid consumer adoption of affordable devices in homes, we predict there will be a major uptick in smart devices being purchased for business use.
Here are key smart office trends we expect to increase in 2019.
Coming soon to office desks everywhere: personalized digital assistants—otherwise known as "Smart Speakers."
Home ownership of smart speakers—such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod—skyrocketed 78% in 2018. Approximately 118.5 million households now have a smart speaker, up from 66.7 million (source: Motley Fool).
Research firm Nielsen also found that four out of 10 smart speaker owners in the U.S. own more than one device—suggesting that they are increasingly comfortable having them available throughout their homes.
The good news for small businesses is that products like the Amazon Echo Dot are not only very affordable (about $50-$100 USD each), but they also can be programmed to help workers be more productive. Examples of smart speakers' "Skills" for work purposes include:
Amazon has rolled out advanced features that allow developers to create specific Skills for businesses using devices such as the Echo and Echo Dot.
While this functionality is initially aimed at the enterprise market through their Amazon for Business and Amazon Connect offerings, very soon small businesses also will be able to enjoy the same enterprise-grade features at a fraction of the cost of traditional solutions.
Our mission at OkClear is to bridge the gap and make it easier for small-to-medium businesses to quickly and easily adopt these and other advanced communications features for use both in and out of the office.
As we noted in a prior article ("Our Digital Lives Are A Mess"), many companies are trying to combat lost productivity due to the number of devices, apps and notifications their employees have to keep up with on a regular basis.
We anticipate greater use of tools that will aggregate messages from multiple sources, as well as better functionality to help workers "triage" incoming messages and even proactively prevent unnecessary or unauthorized interruptions such as robocalls.
There are signs that CEOs accept that workers are using personal technology at work—and that it is not entirely counter productive. Chief Executive recently polled nearly 100 CEOs on their views regarding personal technology. According to 57.5% of CEOs they surveyed, personal tech is helping the quality of interpersonal relationships and culture at their company—just 42.5% said it is an impediment. However, aside from the interpersonal aspects of using personal technology, there are also concerns related to work-related information that cannot be captured or controlled—such as "lost" calls or texts sent to and received on personal devices.
For several years now, there have been predictions about the mass adoption of the so-called Internet of Things, or IoT. The reality is that it will soon be a trillion dollar industry.
According to analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC), global spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) will reach nearly $1.3 trillion in 2019, an increase from $698.6 billion in 2015.
We foresee a wide range of connected devices spreading through work environments, ranging from location-aware appliances to energy saving power outlets.
Combining many of these devices with apps for desktop computers, smartphones and even wearables will continue to bring the vision of a truly "connected" enterprises to fruition in 2019 and beyond.