There is uncertainty around new technologies coming over the horizon. Many people hear "Artificial Intelligence" and think - "will the robots steal our jobs?" But by exploring real examples we can see new technologies are already making a positive, measurable, difference in the workplace and improving employee experience.
Augmented reality (AR) is the technology that layers digital components like 3D special effects on top of a real world canvas. Enabled by the Internet of Things (IoT), AR offers a new, experiential way of seeing and using information. Combining digital and physical information AR is already demonstrating how it can be used to increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace.
Aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, has equipped technicians with interactive 3D AR models that replace twenty-foot long diagrams previously used to wire 747 Supertankers. Boeing reports a 90% improvement in first-time quality build, along with a 30% reduction in time spent completing the task.
Thyssenkrupp, a market leader in-home mobility solutions, equip their sales people with AR headsets that quickly measure staircase dimensions during an initial visit. The headset automatically shares data with manufacturing teams, cutting down on data entry and decision making time. With these new and enhanced methods of working businesses are arming their employees with a more complete working experience. Employee confidence increases along with productivity.
If AR enhances our real world, then Virtual Reality (VR), creates an entirely new one. VR fully immerses the user into a digitally constructed world model. Technicians at telecommunications company, Verizon, train with headsets, virtually installing fibre-optic cables down city manholes, on top of rooftops, and utility poles without ever leaving the office. These engaging experiences not only improve Verizon’s onboarding process, but also significantly increase the efficiency of workforce development.
Other applications of VR are helping people adapt to the evolving digital workplace. Working styles are changing and companies are no longer constrained to their own city, or timezone, when hiring top talent. But the rise of remote workforces poses a challenge for companies to keep their teams happy, engaged, and productive. Which is why companies like Cisco Systems, leader in IT and networking, trial launched Cisco Spark in VR, a platform where their users can interact with files in 3D by grabbing, opening, and sharing work– using just their hands.
VR-powered meetings are a revolutionary departure from standard video conferencing, with the power to enable collaboration and reduce isolation, making remote workers feel more connected than ever before. Leveraging collaborative technology increases business efficiency, productivity, and can promote a healthy work-life balance. VR is a game changer for businesses looking to promote innovation and collaboration.
A PWC study found that by automating processes and augmenting existing labour forces, AI could transform productivity and the GDP potential of the global economy.
AI adoption offers endless potential for the real estate industry. As these technologies become more prevalent concepts like a digital twin of a building will become fully realised. Using IoT sensors, a building’s design, facilities, and equipment are replicated and monitored in a living, breathing model- a digital twin. With this framework we can improve productivity in the management of a building. One example is preemptive fault detection and predictive fault resolution; instead of waiting for the air conditioning to breakdown, an AI powered system identifies variations from the norm and actions a system maintenance service.
Another application of AI in buildings is the implementation of smart contracts; take the air con example again, a smart contract can differentiate whether the aircon has been used within its normal operating parameters compared to the service agreement outline in the supplier agreement, making it clear whether the landlord or air con company are responsible for replacing the unit.
Privately owned real estate company, Rudin Management Company, developed NANTUM, a building management platform that uses AI to build a memory of a building's rhythm to positively influence, predict, and prescribe performance. The algorithms continuously adapt, increasing building efficiency, energy reduction, and cost savings.
For these new technologies to become fully realised they rely on a streamlined digital infrastructure. Your headsets need to be connected, the devices you’re looking at need to be connected, and the buildings you’re using them in need to be connected.
The workplace is changing and the demand for applications that enhance productivity and improve human experiences will result in the rapid adoption of new technologies into our everyday working lives.
It’s clear that these technologies will accelerate changes to the world of work, bringing together remote workers, improving operational efficiency in smart buildings, and promoting employee happiness with improved productivity and work-life balance. People shouldn’t fear being replaced, rather embrace how they can improve the way they work today.
We must remember that people are important. AI, VR, and AR are here to enable, they extend the in-between of what people do, helping us to work better, together.