At the beginning of each year, thousands of tech gurus flock to Las Vegas for CES, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics festivals. And this year, a lot of the talk on the Strip is revolving around smart technology.
We’ve already seen how connected tech is improving home life. And we’ve even see how it’s transformed cities.
But it’s also providing huge benefits to businesses too. Companies up and down the UK are using smart tech to become more adaptable, more innovative, and more efficient.
How? We spoke to smart technology experts to delve a little deeper and find out exactly what it is that’s most exciting them right now…
You’ve probably heard of ‘the Cloud’. Not those puffy white (or, if you live in England, grey) things in the sky, the internet network that allows people to access and share documents online. There are various ‘Cloud’ offerings, from personal products such as iCloud and Dropbox to broader innovative solutions such as Salesforce or Basecamp, which businesses can use for employees to store and access their data and work streams at any time of day. No matter if it’s the middle of the night and you’ve woken up with an idea – you can access and amend the file without having to wait until the morning (when you’ve inevitably forgotten exactly what it is you wanted to say).
Cloud computing also means that you don’t have to be in the office to tackle that important brief or check out the current status of a presentation. Desperate to finish and share a document but have to head home? You can use Cloud tools to work on the project on the train, at home – anywhere you can get internet access. Connected tech makes the world a much smaller place. You can collaborate with suppliers and colleagues easily and efficiently in all corners of the globe. It opens up a world of new possibilities and opportunities, and means you’re no longer bound by your location.
You might have heard the adage that ‘data is king’. For a lot of businesses, that’s certainly true. Being able to collect so much data about their customers can allow them to provide more relevant and helpful services. But it’s all very well being able to accumulate this data, it’s another thing having the ability to decipher what this data means and being able to act accordingly. Luckily, there are lots of tools available that can help businesses understand their data in a way that can genuinely benefit their customers. Tools like Artesian, Tableau and Plotly. These aren’t just being used by the companies with huge amounts of cash available, but companies of all sizes have access to smart tech that can help them gain greater insights into their customer needs.
When you talk about data, you invariably end up talking about security. But smart technology is helping solve problems on this front too. As well as countless services put in place to protect customer data, businesses can also use connected tech to keep their own security issues in check. Password management tools like LastPass give companies the ability to manage and share passwords with colleagues in a safe and robust way - vital when you realise that almost 50% of people are happy to log in to work documents from an unsecured network. And it’s not just online security that smart technology can help small businesses with – it’s able to keep their actual office spaces safe too. You can use WiFi to remotely lock and unlock your bolted doors, and even install a WiFi doorbell, which allows you to see and talk to your guests before letting them in. Oh, and for maximum security, Wireless WiFi security cameras let you monitor what’s going on in your office from your smartphone or tablet, and will alert you remotely when it detects motion. Nifty.
Here to Help
Right, so you’re now able to make sure that your business is on the go 24/7, that you’re able to work remotely and keep everything safe, secure and efficient in real time. But what about your customers? You may be providing a great product, but you need to ensure they’re provided with the very best customer service whenever they want too. That’s again where connected tech can help. Smart tools like Zendesk are being used by businesses to deal with customer requests from any channel, automatically engaging and serving them through innovative cloud-based solutions. It means that a company can be always serving their customers without the need for staff working around the clock. Meanwhile, Giffgaff uses the power of social media and smart communities to allow their customers to provide the support for them. Giffgaff ‘Members’ are encouraged and incentivised to share their knowledge and advice to help fellow customers, meaning that issues are resolved quickly and efficiently via online forums rather than costly and frustrating call centres.
We’re only really scratching the surface here when it comes to the power of the internet of things. And businesses, many of whom use E.ON as their trusted energy partner, are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to use smart technology to make what they do more streamlined and efficient. It’s making the workplace more connected, more accessible, and safer too. Now we can see why those currently enjoying the festivities in Las Vegas are getting so excited…