Over the course of this year we’ve turned to technology for communication, work, productivity – pretty much everything! Good tech has been a lifeline in helping businesses through the pandemic. In doing so, we’ve accelerated the growth of many trends that were already in place, and as a result, the way businesses operate may have fundamentally change forever.
Here are some tech-enabled changes that we expect to stick around.
The in-person signature is a critical part of billing and contracts for many businesses. Whether it’s a contract or simply signing for a package, we’re often required to put pen to paper to seal the deal. Given social distancing measures, many businesses that were previously reluctant to sign things over an email have had to adjust.
In most cases, signatures can be provided electronically – even banks are now accepting e-signatures. This can be the form of someone typing their name into a contract, electronically pasting their signature or signing with their finger/stylus on a tablet, smartphone or touchscreen.
Unlike a pen on paper signature, e-signatures are harder to forge. Docusign (one of the top e-signing software packages) uses Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), an industry-standard technology, to digitally seal a document. This seal indicates the electronic signature is valid and that the document hasn’t been tampered with or altered since the date of signing. An audit trail is also kept as proof of the transaction.
Internet of Things
A recent survey by Vodafone found that 84% of businesses that had begun to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) technologies indicated that it was key to maintaining business continuity during the pandemic.
IoT is the network of physical objects—“things”—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the internet. These devices range from ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools.
Over the last few years IoT has been focused on increasing return on investment or providing cost savings to a business, now it is giving companies an opportunity to re-design operations and future proof their business. Resilient, agile, growth business will have adopted IoT.
IoT is not just for industry as it can connect everyday objects—kitchen appliances, thermostats, baby monitors and smart speakers—to the internet via embedded devices, seamless connectivity is possible between people, processes, and things which has proved essential during this period of remote working.
IoT enabled smart devices for people’s homes is improving productivity. Amazon’s Alexa assistant is capable of managing conference calls, scheduling meetings and organising events. Tasks such as making phone calls or sending messages, checking to-do lists and accessing information from business applications can also be carried out this way. On Apple devices, Siri helps with dictation and linking up with Zoom for video calls.
The Onecom Global IoT Platform, powered by Vodafone’s IoT technology, delivers IoT connectivity-as-a-service, our customers rely on us to remove the complexity of IoT connectivity and deliver cost effective, secure solutions that meet real world project needs. Find out more about our service here.
Cloud working solutions
The demand for cloud-based workspaces rapidly increased as the only way for workers to connect during lockdowns. Luckily, IT teams have been able to react quickly and move businesses to a remote working model, taking advantage of software like Microsoft Teams – and even cloud storage applications like Dropbox and Google Drive have come in handy.
We expect to see more use of cloud technology in smartphone apps, as remote and on the go access will be important for those working flexibly or from home, even after the pandemic. If you’re still looking for the ideal solution, Onecom has a number of remote working solutions including conferencing software and Horizon Collaborate – a cloud telephone service to manage your organisation’s entire communications.
Automation and AI
Automation is already present in things we use every day but has been particularly helpful in these circumstances. Rule-based workflow automation systems have been able to keep all your back-office tasks ticking over, even when you’re not in the office yourself. With workflow automation, you can reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks (e.g. manual data entry) and focus on more productive tasks. Employers can stay in sync with their teams and processes and IT systems stay connected.
For those lucky enough to have access to 5G already, high-capacity connectivity, even in the busiest areas, has given users faster secure connections for document collaboration, high-speed downloads and more. Enhanced mobile broadband has improved communications between remote workers through more seamless video conferencing – ideal for fixing dodgy zoom calls.
Not everyone will be able to access 5G, just yet. You need to be in a city that is 5G ready – but there’s more to come over the next 12 months. We have a range of 5G devices – including Samsung’s latest range and Apple’s 5G-enabled iPhone 12 – which are now available to our customers, and also Vodafone 5G GigaCube for your business; which connects all your employees from one space to 5G. Find out more here.
Tech-driven fitness products
This year has seen a huge spike in the purchase of in-home gym equipment, products like Peloton and other fitness apps. People are becoming used to the idea of exercising at home and it seems that gyms may struggle bringing people back to their facilities into 2021.
Wearable devices like Fitbit make it easy for companies to support staff physical and mental wellbeing. This is especially important when so many are struggling to achieve a work/life balance. They’re well worth the purchase to bring people together in challenges that are fun and engaging and can have a transformative effect on productivity, morale and team ethos. Onecom has partnered with Fitbit to get Britain’s workers moving, see here for more information about the Fitbit scheme.
If you would like to discuss how we can help you get your technology in check ahead of the new year, please speak to your account manager or one of our experts on 03300 888 999.