Imagine walking into an office that’s all decked out in the latest innovative technology, from self-driving robots to collaborative workspaces and everything in between. Well, that may just become a reality this holiday season—as long as you can convince your CFO to make some room in the budget for this year’s best office gifts. Sure, your bosses probably try their best to get your office some new supplies each year, but who needs more notepads and pens when you can have better Wi-Fi instead?
When your CFO is eyeing that old printer from the ’90s on eBay to save some cash, it’s up to the IT department to keep them on the right track. If you make the right recommendations, you may just find your office with all the new and improved tech it needs to stay happily ahead of the competition. Black Friday’s almost here, so take a look at the hottest new innovations that’ll bring your office into 2018.
1. The smart office
The smart home is one of the hottest trends in consumer tech, but this Black Friday, get your business in on the action. The savings from smart lighting, heating, and general utility management can be even higher for industrial buildings than residential, and many of the solutions available don’t require too much privileged access to a building’s maintenance-level guts. Smart locks like Kisi may not offer a significant cost advantage, but imagine never having to worry about key distribution again, whether it’s locking someone out or letting someone in.
Image courtesy of Kisi.
2. Telepresence robots
What exactly is telepresence? Simply put, it’s when you bring home workers and other remote employees into the office instantly via an online video. Essentially self-driving Skype robots, these wonders give workers the ability to navigate the office environment with a real physical avatar, remaining part of important conversations that often happen on the move. Advanced telepresence robots like the Beam Enhanced from Suitable Technologies can already dock themselves at the charging station, and soon some existing models may even have the ability to make their own way from meeting to meeting without being directly controlled, so they’re always right where they’re scheduled to be.
Image courtesy of Suitable Tech.
3. Indoor mapping and tracking
To make good on the promise of that self-driving tech, you first need to know what your office looks like—and that means you’ll need to map the interior of the office. A new mobile engagement platform from HP and a start-up called Aruba exploits this information to give your office some all-new abilities. Aruba can provide turn-by-turn indoor directions for visitors and spice up meetings with topic- or attendee-specific options that appear only when relevant.
Image courtesy of Aruba.
4. Mesh networking
Offices don’t always have to be massive to have a few out-of-the-way areas where it’s a total Wi-Fi dead-zone—in fact, some of the oldest buildings are also the densest, and present the biggest hurdle to wireless signals. But with mesh networking, your wireless devices act as extenders to create a larger access area for Wi-Fi–and that means your workers won’t fall out of contact when they enter certain levels or rooms. Luckily, there are plenty of solutions, and mesh functionality is even being incorporated into regular devices like speakers and Google Wifi.
Image courtesy of Google Press.
5. The ultimate workspace
This one may not be as practical as the others, but it shows just how far office tech has come—and how soon you might be making spending decisions straight out of Minority Report. The Mezzanine collaborative workspace is a marvel of modern technology, literally from the mind that designed the computer interface for Spielberg’s film. It uses hand gestures and 360-degree scanning to bring team members across the globe into the ultimate collaborative work environment.
Image courtesy of OBLONG INDUSTRIES.
6. Next-generation paper
The printer is a much-maligned necessity of the office environment, but that’s only because it’s caused so many headaches in the past. Today, printer technology has evolved to the point where there’s no need for delays, jams, or errors—and physical documents can once again offer their superior readability in the office. With cloud printing solutions readily available, even remote workers can get in on the action, printing out any materials they need to send to workers at the office or sending out handouts for presentations.
7. Robotic cleanup crew
Not every office generates the same amount of mess, so not every office needs a custodian or a regular deep clean from a (human) cleaning service. iRobot‘s Roomba has been a staple of the home and office robotics game for as long as we can remember, and their new offerings are incredibly sophisticated, with smart scheduling and advanced path-finding to make sure they get everywhere—but stay out of your way. And, you guessed it: Reducing the number of calls to the cleaning service can lead to serious savings long term. They even have STEM initiatives and the new Create 2 robot for engineers, developers, and more so you can program behaviours, sounds, and movements. You know, because IT deserves to have some good, clean fun.
Image courtesy of iRobot.
This Black Friday, be sure to think about the cost benefits that come with any particular business purchase. Top-level decision-makers may balk at the prospect of shelling out for smart lights or a telepresence robot, but if it’s explained as a cost-saving measure, the story might be very different. Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to strike; with the lowest startup costs of the year, it’ll never be easier to sell the brass on the cost-benefit ratio of time- and money-saving office tech.
You may not need the mesh networking in your brand new, state-of-the-art office building, but who would turn down a self-healing printer or a robot that can let them be in two places at once? If you’re lucky, you might end up getting that Mezzanine workspace, too. Even CFOs love the coolest and most innovative technology around, so don’t miss your chance on getting these items this holiday season.