Three major developments in tech are poised to redefine the way we do business in 2015. Worker productivity will grow, businesses will save money, and life will be easier for everyone. Prepare your employees for success in the new year by equipping them to take full advantage of these three emerging strategic trends.
Cloud computing and storage
Businesses now find it cheaper and easier than ever to access computing resources, and users have come to enjoy unprecedented platform flexibility from software, thanks to cloud computing. Implementing a cloud solution at your company can make your employees more efficient, more responsive, and liberated from the processing and storage constraints of yesteryear.
Some of the most popular business tools today are cloud-based versions of older software. Google Apps for Business and Microsoft’s Office 365, for example, bring the functionality of the old Office suite online. These services expand on familiar tools by adding cloud-based features like collaboration and automatic backup. Apps like MailChimp and Dropbox, meanwhile, perform real-time data operations that could only exist on the cloud.
There’s hardly any business function a desktop computer can perform that is not available in expanded form on the cloud. Assess how your company’s systems can best migrate over and proceed with confidence.
Mobile technology is another revolution of which we’ve only seen the beginning. Smart devices are becoming more powerful and more integrated into our lives, at the same time that cloud computing is enabling software to be run on any device with little drop-off in functionality. For employees, the world is now their workplace. It’s paying off for managers, too: a 2014 AT&T study revealed that 94% of small businesses used mobile technology to conduct business last year, saving in the process a staggering $65 billion and 1.25 billion hours annually.
To jump-start mobile usage in your company, consider purchasing devices for your employees. Tablets in particular are great devices for productivity, as they combine portability with a bigger interface than smartphones. Or, if you prefer a “bring your own device” (BYOD) system, offer employees a paid mobile plan. Using mobile for business requires approximately double a subscriber’s normal data usage, so subsidizing your employees’ data might encourage them to use it more.
Finally, don’t be afraid to use SMS text with employees. Text messages are seen and responded to quicker than emails: 97% of mobile users will see a text within 15 minutes of getting it, and 84% will respond within the hour. Spam messages constitute 65% of email, but less than 10% of SMS. If an employee needs to be engaged urgently, texting is a good way to get in touch, especially if the individual is normally deluged in email.
A new emphasis on security
A growing need for cybersecurity will be a defining theme of most emerging technology. “All roads to the digital future lead through security,” as Gartner’s year-ahead tech preview puts it. We’re fully underway on the era of shared computing resources, which means that soon, most applications will run and most files will be stored on remote servers. Your employees will enjoy greater platform flexibility than ever before, but careless usage can expose your data to malicious actors looking to sneak into the system’s complex pathways.
Keep your employees and your company safe by rigorously training on the skills involved in digital security. This means that employees have to recognize malware, apply password best practices, and have a contingency plan in case data or a device is compromised. Everyone in the company should recognize social engineering threats and the proper ways to store sensitive information.
The best data protection you can offer your employees, however, is a strong, clear company security policy to follow. Make sure that you’re skilled in risk assessment at the organizational level to complement their individual vigilance against cyber attacks.
In 2015, employees’ work and personal spaces will begin to truly integrate. Social media and mobile phones already give them access to their eternal lives while at work, but increasingly, cloud computing will transport the office everywhere they go as well. Managers, therefore, need to respect employees’ personal space. It’s essential that everyone in your company feel like they can withdraw from the office when they need to. In 2015, constant communication and unfettered access to data will be the easy part. The challenge will be deciding when to give it a rest.