What the Latest Workplace Technology Trends Mean for the Future of Business

Berea Schaffer, Workday’s vice president of mobile, discusses major technology trends that businesses can leverage to better support and engage their employees.

For IT leaders, keeping up with the latest technology trends is an important part of the job. Tech-savvy millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force,make up a huge percentage of front-line workers,and they have high expectations about the technology they use. In fact, while 75% of front-line workers use technology as part of their work, 60% are dissatisfied with the technology they have.

That’s why major announcements from large technology companies are  important. For example, Google’s annual I/O conference and Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) are always full of interesting glimpses into the future of technology, and this year was no exception. While the product launches tend to get the most attention, this year, I noticed a few interesting trends that could have a major effect on workplace technology in the years to come. CIOs, take note—here are my biggest takeaways from this year’s events.

Interactive Workplace Education and Training

Interactive content and video have improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade, but most workplace training resources have not yet fully leveraged these capabilities. Intuitive tools such as Google Lens—an augmented reality (AR) filter that can give users more information about a live or static image—could be the key to making workplace content more interactive without a huge investment from the business. 

With these tools, what processes could make businesses easier, more engaging, or more intuitive? Could business leaders and teams save time on inventory management with a camera and AR? Would organizations see better results from employee training if it was easier to understand, and it engaged users with interactive video? Use the technology employees are familiar with in their personal lives to reimagine business processes such as these and see what happens.

Multilingual Accessibility 

Several I/O sessions focused on what Google calls “accessibility,” which also touches on inclusion and belonging. No matter what companies call it, it’s clear that Google is thinking about how to help employees navigate the workplace with better language assistance. This year, Google unveiled a number of translation tools that workplaces can leverage to help employees feel more connected and eliminate language barriers.

If a business employs people who speak a variety of languages, these tools can help them access information in their language of choice. Not only will this help increase accuracy and compliance with workplace policies, but it will also help all employees feel more included. 

Natural AI Conversations

Imagine employees having a casual, natural conversation with their company without ever involving a live person. With a few clicks or the sound of their voice, they could ask policy questions, learn about their benefits, or check their shift schedule with almost no effort at all. 

Sound far-fetched? Employees are probably already doing it in their personal lives, using Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to turn on the lights, order coffee, or book tickets. The next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) tools are making intuitive, personalized conversations a reality, building into existing products such as Google Search. It’s time to leverage this technology to help  employees solve common workplace issues that wouldn’t require a real person to intervene.

Seamless Security

Security has always been a major part of workplace technology, but this year we saw more new launches in this space than usual—especially for mobile devices. At I/O, Google announced Android support for secure multidevice login, easy multifactor authentication, and passwordless login, among other security initiatives. These updates are just in time (or perhaps long overdue), as most users now expect seamless, secure access to their tools and apps.

If a company hasn’t already adopted the latest data privacy and security standards, it’s time to make the change. It’s never been easier for people to log in securely to their apps and devices, and users now expect their workplaces to follow suit. So the next time a company evaluates their security policies, it’s important to take an employee-centered approach and consider processes that are as easy to use, such as  secure fingerprint authentication or facial recognition, both of which are available in the Workday mobile app.

Productivity at a Glance

Apple’s new launch screen features widgets and live activities that make it easy for employees to get real-time updates without even unlocking their phones. Employees now can create a customized lock screen for work tasks, making it easy to check in and out, track time, view upcoming shifts, communicate with teams, and more.

Highlighting these tools on the lock screen will not only make them easier to find, it will also reduce distractions and help employees stay focused at work. Plus, leveraging these new features sends the message that the company is  committed to providing employees with the latest technology—something that 79% of workers said would help them get more done, faster.

One Continuous Experience

At WWDC, Apple stressed the importance of continuity in the user experience across all touchpoints, and helping users stay connected regardless of which channel they started a task on. For Apple, this means continuity across its own suite of devices, but it’s an important principle in general. Our Workday Everywhere initiative ensures that employees can access Workday tools wherever they are, whether that’s on the web, our mobile app, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or elsewhere.

The bottom line: Employees will increasingly expect to be able to start tasks on one device and finish them on another, and to use digital tools to make everyday tasks easier. When employees can approve timecards from an Apple Watch or sign in to the building with their Apple Wallet, they’ve more time and energy to do the work that really matters.

Overall, this year’s events confirm that technology is evolving to give users easier and more intuitive ways to engage with their surroundings, while offering more security than ever before. Tasks are becoming more flexible with the ability to do them across devices, or to start in one place and finish in another. Our mobile team is drawing on these trends to optimize the Workday mobile app for deskless and front-line workers, making essential everyday tasks as quick and seamless as possible.

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