Top 10 Technology Trends Shaping the Digital Workplace in 2018

Ronald Monte | September 6, 2018

The digital workplace in 2018 is evolving at an ever-accelerating rate. The office of tomorrow and even the way employees interact has been completely changed by trends caused by technology. In this article, we’ll look at the top 10 trends that are shaping the digital marketplace, including:

  • Virtual, Augmented and Mixed: A New Working Reality
  • Cybersecurity
  • Remote Work
  • Voice Search
  • A Smarter Workplace with IoT
  • Cloud Computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Challenges to Incorporating New Technology
  • Web RTC
  • Embracing the Blockchain

1. Virtual, Augmented and Mixed: A New Working Reality 

The advancements of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality are set to revolutionize how we think about the “place” in “workplace”. Industries like construction, manufacturing, and IT have already taken measures to fully integrate AR/VR with their employees, with Boeing, Facebook, DHL and Microsoft being early-adopters. Mixed reality also makes training in the workplace much more integrated and comprehensive, improving the quality of training and reducing overheads associated with bringing employees up to speed.

According to predictions by IT research and consultancy company Gartner, it’s estimated that 20% of large enterprises will begin adopting some form of these solutions by 2019. Taking into consideration that, as of 2017, the total market size of AR, VR, and mixed-reality was $17.8 billion dollars, it is a natural progression for workplaces to embrace the potential of a mixed-reality workplace. In the past, businesses viewed VR/AR as a novelty. However, big-name early adopters in various industries are signaling a future trend. Now that we live in an age where computing power has the capability to finally realize the potential of an augmented and virtual workplace, the future digital workplace will shift dramatically.

2. Cybersecurity

It’s to be expected that when technology improves, so does the activity of those up to no good. So far, 2018 has shown no relenting of cyber attacks, with anything from credit bureau Equifax’s breach to Iranian meddling in United States universities. With institutions in high-volume industries (i.e. healthcare, banking) now being held responsible for protecting their staff and customer data, the stakes have never been higher. With each new year bringing exciting possibilities in the workplace, employers must also regularly assess risks as tech advances change the way we live and work.  Cybersecurity is therefore a surefire trend that will revolutionize how workplaces protect their assets and data

3. Remote Work

Remote work, and its very definition, is drastically changing. With virtual offices and locations rapidly replacing the traditional office spaces, the importance of creating a sense of connectivity has been never been greater—43% of Americans surveyed by the New York Times mentioned that they perform some type of remote work.

Online collaboration platforms like Slack, Workfront, Trello, and a multitude of others have shown that the traditional office environment—cubicles and all—is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. As workers become more “geographically agnostic”, there will be a greater emphasis on workers want to remain unattached—according to the “State of Remote Work 2018,” 90% of remote workers wish to remain employed in this fashion rather than go back to traditional office environments.

4. Voice Search

Thanks to the proliferation of virtual assistants and voice-activated speakers, voice search usage is becoming more and more accepted. With 62% of companies surveyed mentioning are expecting to make use of virtual assistants in just two years, it’s no surprise that this $1.8 billion industry is predicted to rise to $40 billion in terms of commercial sales.

Because of the ubiquity of voice search at home, the transition to a voice-search oriented workplace is much more natural, especially as it is predicted by that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Familiarity will help ease the transition into the workplace, as orders can be filled with voice commands and data manipulated with speech. The effects of voice search will steer online content towards optimization for voice and text, with long-tail keywords taking prominence in the near-future.

5. A Smarter Workplace with IoT

Thanks to IoT (Internet of Things), what were once-thought impossible workplaces built for sci-fi novels are now mandatory to stay competitive. Smarter workplaces can now leverage tech for nearly any workplace need, whether it’s for more efficient lighting, increased capabilities for remote workers, assigning parking spaces, automatically requesting refills for soap and vending machines, or handling routine administrative tasks. In manufacturing industries (i.e. aeronautics, automotive), IoT has been a major factor for making the workplace of the future more efficient. As an example, motorcycle mainstay Harley Davidson grew overall profitability by 3% to 4% by shifting production to a fully IoT-enabled plant. Expect other businesses to follow this trend.

6. Cloud Computing

Since its inception in the early 2000s, cloud computing has changed the way that the workplace has organized itself. In 2018, businesses are rapidly grasping the importance of cloud-based storage, citing the need for data to be available and modified in real-time—as well as better security and lower infrastructure costs. In a $130 billion industry, cloud computing shows only signs for unparalleled growth and ubiquity: of nearly 1,000 respondents, 96% of those surveyed in RightScale’s “State of the Cloud Survey” stated adoption of cloud-based services to boost both workforce and organizational productivity.

7. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning have become so sophisticated and pervasive in recent years that most workplaces may not even be aware of its scale and current impact. For instance, consider the following list of AI-based tasks that Business Insider compiled, citing a lack of user awareness:

  • predictive text
  • route suggestions
  • voice assistants
  • voice search
  • translation apps
  • voice-to-text
  • email classification
  • automated calendar entries
  • location-based app suggestions
  • automated photo classification

Aspects of AI have emerged into the workplace, such as “robotic process automation” (RPA), which can handle mundane tasks like gathering disparate documents and transcribing data on the fly. This can help employees focus on serving customer needs more efficiently and reduce burnout from repetitive tasks.

However, industry experts, like Elon Musk, have been careful to sound the alarm on AI’s ubiquity, instead emphasizing that AI’s potential on automating decisions without human intervention should be measured and deliberate.  

8. Challenges to Incorporating New Technology

Just as each technological advance comes with its set of advantages, there are also a new set of challenges when it comes to actually incorporating them—particularly when it comes to hiring and retaining staff. Some of the most prominent problems include:

  • poor enterprise software usability: According to a recent survey conducted by IFS (Industry and Financial Systems, LLC), 46% of tech workers would consider finding other employment if faced with this problem.
  • a lack of integrated tech and missed collaboration opportunities: Many businesses citing that sophisticated tech had a polarizing effect on workplace efficiency.

Therefore, there will be a trend towards removing proprietary boundaries between platforms, allowing for the easy integration of applications, and reducing the learning curve of cutting-edge tech.

9. Web RTC

Rapid communication is key in 2018. To enable employees to interact with other staff members via web browser, Web RTC (web real-time communications) is becoming one of the most progressive digital workplace technology tools. With Safari and other browsers now enabled, there’s no longer a need for specialized communication apps like Skype and such. Web RTC uses less bandwidth, wastes less battery power, and drains less network resources than other plugins/applications. Additionally, Web RTC is useful in sharing audio, video, and data communication—an all-in-one solution that many companies are turning to for their communication needs.

10. Embracing Blockchain

While typically associated with cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology is seeing a surge in applications across multiple industries in 2018. Some of the most interesting examples indicative of this trend include:

With many far-reaching applications, some of the largest companies are shifting their old operating procedures in favor of cutting-edge blockchain tech to adapt to 2018’s new workplace demands.

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As you can see, technology is up-ending how the modern workplace functions, and ultimately redefining how work gets done in our evolving world. In response, companies are looking to fill the gap with intuitive products to ensure that workplaces operate efficiently. One good example of these types of products contributing to this technology trend is the Cemtrex SmartDesk.

Touted as the “world’s most advanced fully integrated workstation,” the SmartDesk provides tools to encompass whatever technology is needed, all within arm’s reach. This includes: a powerful PC, built-in keyboard and multi-touch trackpad, wireless phone charging, a proprietary phone integration system and an integrated document scanner—tied together with a gesture system, allowing you to control your content with the wave of your hand.

Cemtrex SmartDesk