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Next year will be great for smart technology in the office

Smart technology is having a considerable impact on the office environment, with the last 10 years seeing noticeable advances in the way we work. As businesses look to implement a variety of digital technologies, David Bromley, Product Business Development at Canon UK explores the changes these products and solutions will bring and the impact this will have on the evolution of the office of the future. 

How has office technology changed in the last 10 years? 

For me, there have been two significant technological developments in the office over the past decade.  The first is mobile and the impact that it’s had as we move away from desktop PCs to mobile devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, enabling us to work in a more flexible, smarter way. We’ve come a long way, even in the past few years alone, and as vendors continue to improve features such as connectivity, mobile working will become an even bigger part of our working lives.  

The second most important change is the shift from simple office equipment, such as printers, to intelligent information hubs. For example, Canon’s new imageRUNNER ADVANCE C5500 series seamlessly integrates with business applications and cloud ecosystems to ensure instant interoperability with existing processes and mobile working. Technology has to work harder and smarter than ever before, delivering value across the business.  

How can businesses make the most of digital technologies when driving business transformation? 

Businesses need to ensure that the smart digital technologies they are investing in are fully integrated into employees existing workflows, and consider which teams might be most impacted. 

For example, new document management processes might allow HR departments to ensure passport scans are automatically uploaded to a relevant file on the network, providing a streamlined workflow and time efficiencies. Having the technology available to use is often not enough. As humans we resist change, so ensuring technology easily fits into workflows and improves tasks is incredibly important.  Training employees on new technologies is also fundamental to ensuring the investments made are not wasted. 

A recent Canon study found that almost half of workers across Europe don’t know how to properly use the business technology that’s available to them. Having regular training sessions on the latest software and equipment will give staff the confidence to make the most of the technologies as well as helping to bring about organisational transformation.  

What challenges does smart technology present? Is there anything businesses should be wary of? 

According to Gartner, more than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the Internet of Things by 2020. 

As businesses embrace smart technology, vast data lakes are being created and transferred across networks, creating a serious security challenge. In order to ensure businesses and their customers receive the best protection, organisations must keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach to security will not work as not all data is equal. Data must be segmented with valuable customer data requiring a different security approach to that of publicly available information.  

The second security challenge is around BYOD as it continues to become the norm in the workplace. With more devices being released every year that consumers want to use across their professional and personal life, security can easily be breached if the correct policies and security requirements are not put in place. It is important for IT managers to balance the perceived risk against employee usability and needs, but also instil a culture of security into the workplace.  

What particular pain points can be eliminated with the introduction of smart technology in the workplace? 

One of the biggest office pain points is the inability to find the right document or information when needed. Our research found that workers waste up to 25 minutes a day trying to locate historical documents, often because they’re saved on individuals’ devices. Smart technology is able to help cut down on pain points employees may face around process and usability by creating a fully connected environment.  

How has the introduction of mobile technologies had an influence on office environments?  

Mobile technologies have had a huge impact on the office environment, with many businesses now truly embracing mobile. User experience is key with businesses now creating apps to provide employees with mobile access to everything from printing on-the-go to accessing to sensitive company data. Printing from a mobile can sometimes mean that there is not a chance to select the finishing options like stapling or double sided. However, apps built in to businesses ensure that these are not missed when using a BYOD scheme. 

From a sustainability perspective, how can smart technology have an impact on a business? 

Compared to 10 years ago, the design of technology has changed with vendors being more eco conscious. Many new devices have the ability for parts to be recycled and reused, cutting down the impact on the environment as overall energy is decreased, in addition to reducing costs for businesses. Smart technology is designed to have a low impact on the environment as it is built for ease of use, and life durability.  

When do you think we will truly see the office of the future take hold? 

We still have a way to go and progress will depend on the size of the organisation. Smaller businesses tend to be more agile and have the ability to advance quicker compared to larger companies that may be tied to legacy systems and long supplier contracts. 2018 appears to be the year when we will see a number of new mobile first technologies arrive, with IDC predicting that IT spending on mobility will peak at 40 per cent of enterprise IT budgets in 2018.

David Bromley, Product Business Development, Canon UK (opens in new tab)     

David Bromley has been working at Canon for over seven years and his role sees him working on a range of activities including product launches, specialising in Canon’s laser products.