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Travelling into the future: what are the hurdles of getting to a tech-based workplace?

We often think about the future of the workplace as something from a film or TV programme. Perhaps robots are working for you. Perhaps they’re working alongside you. Or, if we’re to pursue a more apocalyptic scenario, you’re working for them.

The end result is either overly positive or drastically negative – that technology will help our society or destroy everything.

While these make perfectly good scripts for entertainment purposes, the reality is that we now have some kind of idea of where we’re really heading. How? Well, businesses are already using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technologies that many thought were purely fantasy decades ago.

We’re merely on the edge of what could be achieved. But using what we know now, what could the future of the workplace look like, and what challenges may remain?

One of the key changes in the next ten years is people understanding that context is key in delivering better interactions. There are some fantastic use cases of machine learning, AI, IoT and even augmented reality (AR). For example, some airlines are designing aircraft landing gear with the help of AR. But for AR to be a powerful tool in a workplace, it needs to have a purpose and has to have the context. If I have a holographic interface that pops up from my hand without the context of information I need, it’s absolutely pointless. However, with the right context, AR could save so much time and encourage more innovation and design prowess in different businesses.

There’s also the culture shift around new tech; how do you ensure that those putting on an Oculus Rift in a virtual meeting are all doing this at the same time, so no one feels out of place – and that the user experience is significantly better than what can be achieved now?

Perhaps for the latter, it’s about connectivity. With 5G coming to workplaces, virtual and augmented reality conversations could be the norm. 5G could also help to collect more information from our devices; perhaps corporate wearable devices could send and analyse important data while employees are on the go.

But like AI, 5G isn’t a silver bullet in itself. Data consumption is likely to be far higher, and the traditional telco model of hardware and old school switches will not be able to cope. For the future workplace, software-defined level of connectivity is a must.

We’re heading for exciting times with sophisticated chatbots powered by machine learning,  conference meetings complemented with AR, corporate wearables feeding data analytic teams, and AI helping to enable all of these workplace technologies to communicate with each other. But the reality is that, for now, there are many challenges to overcome before we get there.

Watch the below video to learn more.


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