Getting ‘Smarter’ with Your Office
How ‘smart’ is your office? Let me rephrase that … how technologically smart is your office? Innovation is a powerful force in the business world and if you’re not capitalizing on it, on the best, the latest, and the greatest technology today, you are falling behind.
That’s a simple fact.
Why? How? Well, 75 million Americans shop online these days (Runaway Riot). Even Forbes noted in a blog, How Small Business Owners Are Wrecking Their Own Chances Of Success, written by Erika Andersen, “Many small business owners are still not adopting modern technology and marketing approaches” (Forbes).
It goes way beyond the simple facets of online marketing and using technological tools to reach customers; it’s also about being efficient in daily operations. If a small business could curtail operating expenses by 10 or 12 percent, would it stand to reason they’d want to know more?
The technology is there.
The technology is there to allow companies of just about any size the chance to streamline operations and processes and cut the cost of doing business on a daily basis, but few even consider capitalizing on such things. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that single person or businesses with fewer than 10 employees don’t believe they could afford to take advantage of some of these opportunities.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
Enter one simple technological advancement that could help: the Internet of Things, more commonly referred to as IoT. This is the concept (that is quickly becoming a reality) whereby devices can all be connected to one another, controlled by simple apps on smartphones, and that make working more streamlined and productive.
Smart homes are often the first thing people think about when they hear IoT. Cars are another. Businesses … tend to lag a bit behind. Why?
Perhaps because businesses don’t pivot as quickly, especially those that are larger or have been around (and established) for years, possibly even decades. However, the same technological innovation that’s making ‘smart homes’ a reality are also being looked at on a much grander scale, even including ‘smart cities.
So, where does this help small businesses?
Simple. The more small to mid-sized businesses take advantage of the technologies that already do exist, the more advantageous it will be for their bottom line, and the more beneficial it will be for saving money in the long run.
As a simple example, consider an office with about 20 employees working full-time (five days a week). They use the printer and copier every day. Someone has to keep tabs on the toner and paper. What happens when they run out? They head to the storage closet and grab another ream or cartridge. Then, someone else needs to check inventory and order it. That takes time. Sometimes, hours.
Imagine the copier keeping tabs on all of that and then ordering toner and paper, even repair services, as needed. Yes, these machines can certainly keep track of who is copying what, but as technology improves, it may even be able to step up and warn users about repeat copies, incorrect formatting, etc. That’s just one small example of how smart offices could save money for a business over time.
Then, Of Course, There’s Connectivity
The Internet. You can’t have an ‘Internet of Things’ without being connected to the Internet, can you? Of course not, and while we have seen how much faster Internet connections have become through the years (those who are old enough will remember a dial-up modem squealing when the connection was made to the host server) and we now have 4G LTE for smartphones and tablets.
AT&T is moving to a faster service, which will force other providers to follow suit, too. However, 4G LTE is about to be passed by (like it was standing still) by … you guessed it, 5G. Advertised as being 10 times faster than 4G LTE, this is going to not only open the door for even more innovation, but it will also allow easier connectivity among devices.
Working remotely will be even better.
It’s awesome when you can work from home. Or a café. Or on vacation. Okay, maybe not when you’re on vacation, but you get the point. These are all things most people can now readily do, but while some businesses, managers, and leaders were opening up to this idea more readily just a decade ago, there seems to be a pullback on that to some degree.
Balance must be achieved to help maximize productivity, of course, but with faster connectivity, it makes teleconferencing a much more reliable option and that means even when some employees are working from home or a remote conference center, they can still meet with coworkers, clients, partners, or whomever in a more efficient way.
Then, It’s About the Ultimate in Ambition
What if you could sit in the back of a nice, luxurious limo while heading to work? Sounds nice, right? In fact, you could be incredibly productive just on your commute!
Well, Ford Motor Company is now working on a cloud-based platform that could impact an entire city’s transportation system. It could lead to shorter commutes as technology reroutes people home or to work to minimize congestion, but with the advent of self-driving cars in testing phases now, this isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound.
Technology is moving fast and any small business that wants to save money, boost productivity, and run a ‘smarter’ office can do so already, so long as they capitalize on the latest innovations.
The question is whether or not they do. Will you?