One feature of business technology is that it cuts both ways: It’s almost certain there will be some gains and some losses with investment. But gauging the net result is key in deciding whether to invest and adopt or wait and see. For management, this could include analyzing whether the time and financial cost of a new customer relationship manager (CRM) is worth the return. For HR, it might involve determining whether a recruitment software will help or hurt your hiring process. But although some new technologies have proven returns, some companies still hesitate to invest. Here are four technologies you’ll want to seriously consider.
Streaming audio and video are underutilized resources at work. Webinars, YouTube videos, TedTalks, and podcasts are examples of shareable media resources that are effective in educating and entertaining employees. Some are also familiar platforms; streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are a mainstay of home entertainment. So, incorporating streaming video into the workplace engages employees with a familiar format.
Plus, audiences view streaming documentaries as reliable sources of information about the world. Therefore, you’re using something employees trust. One recent survey found that 70% of documentary viewers shared what they learned with others. Thus, employees learn something new and then share that knowledge with coworkers. Shareability is a critical benefit of streaming media in general.
Streaming media also easily adapts to individual schedules. Participants can stream at work during lunch or at home on the weekends. And group discussions over topics can also happen via streaming platforms like video chats or conference calls. Streaming media is a flexible, powerful tool to supplement learning and development (L&D) programs of any size.
Chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) programs that interact with humans over the Internet. Chatbots save time and money by answering basic questions about a company’s services, products, or policies. Companies often deploy chatbots to support customer service by having them answer common questions. This tiny, talkative software provides dependable, inexpensive service 24/7, and it frees up more time for human reps to answer complicated questions and increase customer retention.
As AI filters down through all areas of business, companies are seeing the benefits of using chatbots for L&D. Employees can use chatbots to find quick answers to simple questions, and new hires can find answers without back-and-forth e-mails to HR or spending time combing through dense policy manuals. And chatbots draw from many different resources, both internal and external, which could include company blog articles, white papers, insurance policies, or training videos.
Companies with cloud-based software and storage have access to their office from anywhere at any time—a big plus for businesses with remote employees. But that’s just the start of the benefits of cloud computing. At a basic level, cloud computing safeguards your data in the event of a natural disaster, a fire, theft, or other threats to your office space, as these data exist off-site.
Cloud computing also reduces your IT costs. By storing data on external servers or running cloud-based software, you lower costs on computer equipment and the energy needed to run it. Additionally, cloud service providers negate the need to hire a dedicated IT staff and take upgrading and security off your hands.
What’s more, scaling your software and storage is easier to do with a cloud-based service. Scalability is essential for e-commerce businesses that need to ratchet up their server capacity during high-volume traffic or holiday rushes. By not having to manage IT or buy extra equipment, you can spend more time running your business. And HR departments benefit, too, by offloading L&D to learning management systems (LMSs).
Online instant communication platforms like Slack are getting more popular with businesses. Often, they’re associated with midsize to large business with many teams and projects. But every business can benefit. Team communication apps are more flexible, efficient, and transparent than office memos and e-mails. The standard e-mail is the right choice for specific situations, but as modern businesses work to stay agile, these new communication platforms have evolved to serve more complex collaboration.
Additionally, collaboration tools gather all your company communication in a single place, but they also enable the creation of separate groups and channels. Niche groups for specific projects or teams keep correspondence together but separated, making communication management easier. Separate channels also allow for social discussions on specific topics (e.g., sports groups or book clubs)—a critical step in keeping “water cooler talk” a part of your company culture.
Instant communication apps also serve as handy data distribution centers. Most brands let users drag and drop document and video files with others. And some apps integrate with Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or other cloud storage services, making sharing links and files simple. But their biggest selling point is that they’re searchable. Need to find that file a colleague sent 2 months ago? Need to vet a specific discussion for possible violations? Just use the search box of your collaboration app to locate any topic or keyword. It’s a breeze compared with combing through dozens of e-mails and layers of a thread.
Morgen Henderson is a writer from the Silicon Slopes of Utah. She writes about business, technology, travel, and sustainability. When she’s not typing away at her computer, you can find her baking and traveling the globe. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram to catch up on her latest adventure.