The pandemic may have caused physical lockdowns, but it couldn’t hold back innovation. In fact, 2020 became the year plenty of entrepreneurs and companies entered the tech space with exciting new solutions.
Some of the tools relate to slowing the migration of COVID-19 and its variants. Other tools concentrated on helping remote workers feel less isolated, more supported, and beyond-belief productive. But all the innovations have had a common thread: They’re leveraging common technologies to improve our personal and professional lives.
Below, we’ll examine a few types of tech stack options that might make sense for your team.
1. Forward-looking tech communication tools
Deskless working has become more prevalent than ever. Think service representatives, construction crews, and other on-the-go team members. They don’t clock in at an office, so many use texting through their personal devices as a way to stay in touch with clients and colleagues. Therein lies a few problems.
The first issue is that texting isn’t innately secure or compliant. A text chain can include dozens of people, some of whom may no longer be working at the company. Plus, managers and employees alike do not always feel comfortable sharing personal contact information for work related matters. Perhaps worst of all, texts may be deleted inadvertently and important data such as timestamp and contents of the conversation would be lost forever.
To circumvent problems—not to mention reduce liability concerns—tech innovators like TeamSense have introduced highly advanced employee communication systems. Their system operates from a cloud-based, encrypted environment, allowing companies to maintain control and confidentiality of all information without restricting employee collaboration. That means deskless workers can leverage technology to receive information on important announcements, share information on shift coverage, and keep up to date on the latest company news. And companies can stress less.
2. Remote worker sourcing, recruiting, and hiring measures
Deloitte finds from November 2020 suggest around half of all eligible employees are working remotely. However, people aren’t just staying in their positions. Many are actively trying to make lateral and upward moves to better their career prospects. The biggest problem with that is that small to mid-sized businesses aren’t accustomed to remotely evaluating, selecting, and training employees.
Technology has come to the rescue in many different forms to assist human resources personnel and hiring managers. Cloud-based recruitment platforms buoyed by AI can scan hundreds of resumes in minutes using keyword analysis. These same tech tools can chat with applicants, grade pre-interview tests, make recommendations, and disseminate offers.
What about the interviewing and one-to-one training so necessary in most businesses? Video conferencing software is continuing to up the bar in terms of how “real” it feels. This allows employers and job applicants to engage in discussions without worrying as much about clunky interfaces. And some digital solutions support e-learning systems so trainees can complete self-directed online coursework. Used in tandem, these resources make virtual hiring less challenging. They also increase the chance of bringing the right talent into an organization.
3. Customer engagement management systems
Self-sufficiency has become more appealing to consumers in the past 12 months. People want to be able to make informed choices, as well as solve problems alone, if possible. This movement away from human-to-human contact has encouraged a proliferation of omnichannel customer engagement management solutions.
Customer engagement encompasses every part of the customer journey, from first to last contact. In the past, businesses often worried that they would lose their connection with customers if they didn’t offer live representatives 24/7. Now, more businesses are dabbling with the use of AI chatbots. Once programmed correctly, the chatbots can fetch information for customers and serve as “gatekeepers.”
Companies that choose any kind of smarter customer engagement management portals get the advantage of being available anytime. With this tech, they can gather data to find out more about customers, such as their preferences. Retailers like Amazon have perfected the art of giving customers fast answers and relevant choices. But any small business can benefit from being seen as more responsive.
4. Cybersecurity tech tools
Unfortunately, digital criminals have had a field day during the pandemic, causing cybercrime to skyrocket according to the FBI. Part of the problem is the remote nature of so many people’s work. When employees set up home offices or work from public places with public Wifi, they may unknowingly become cyber targets.
Businesses have begun to tighten their data governance and take cybersecurity measures more seriously. Yet many are in the dark about where to start. One answer could be to have remote workers install encryption tools on work-only devices. These devices could be programmed by IT personnel, loaded with security systems, and sent to workers.
Of course, getting remote employees to use unfamiliar laptops or desktops might be challenging at first. Nonetheless, the process would be worth the cost and trouble because dealing with cybercrime fallout is expensive.
5. Robotic devices
Already, robots and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions have been popping up, particularly in healthcare and manufacturing spaces. Drones can fly to spaces deemed unsafe for humans. Robotic machines can perform repetitive work and reduce employee injury in warehouses. And connected devices can remotely solve problems and perform basic tasks.
Though some people still worry that robots will take over their jobs, many are becoming more accustomed to seeing robotic tools. For instance, many grocery stores are relying on robots like Giant Food’s “Marty”. The robot roams and monitors stores, just like a human assistant might. The difference is that Marty doesn’t get tired and never asks for overtime.
With so many employees concerned about cleanliness in their workplaces, some innovators are tinkering with robots to keep spaces disinfected. The robots could potentially broadcast human-safe disinfectants overnight, leading to cleaner offices for the morning crew. The possibilities for robotics are endless, and workers might feel less worried about coming back to work.
Technology has always helped move along society. Today, on-the-ground and proposed tech advancements tend to be linked to life with and after the pandemic. However, lots of them will be valuable long after everyone is vaccinated against Covid-19.