Unproductive, inefficient meetings cost US businesses an estimated $37 billion annually, while the average meeting starts 10 minutes late due to technology-related challenges. Whether it’s not being able to get a PowerPoint to present or failing to get clear audio on a videoconference, everyone has experienced a meeting room horror story that completely kills the productivity in the room. However, employees are no longer so quick to accept these mishaps as just an everyday, unavoidable workplace frustration. Employees are now demanding easy-to-use technology, such as voice control capabilities, in office spaces of all sizes and functions.
In the past decade, the power in the workplace has shifted from employers to employees. In late 2008, jobs were hard to come by and, thus, workplace culture, flexibility and compensation took a back seat to simple job security. But, as the market has shifted, future-focused companies need to rethink what they’re offering employees, if they want to continue to attract the top talent in the industry.
As a result, workplaces are listening to what employees want, and they’re becoming more flexible in how, when and where employees do their jobs. There is a huge window of opportunity for the technology community presented by a workforce that, increasingly, is becoming remote. Right now, 3.9 million Americans work remotely on a regular basis. Tools that aid in real-time collaboration are becoming a necessity, not a luxury, in maintaining productivity levels. At the same time, mobility is blurring the line between home and office, and, thus, workers are beginning to demand the technology that they use at home—such as Amazon’s Alexa—in the workplace, because it’s more comfortable and intuitive for them to work with.
How best to meet their demands? Bring the home to the office. Alexa, originally just an at-home smart assistant, provides the convenience of voice control in the office setting. For instance, now, employees can start a meeting simply by saying, “Alexa, start my meeting.” From launching a web conference to pulling up on-screen presentation materials, Alexa helps ensure meetings are timely, productive and free from the technological fumbling that typically plagues the meeting environment. Additionally, Alexa is a tool that many are familiar with using in their everyday lives; therefore, the office training time is virtually zero.
Think about the adoption of apps in the workplace just five years ago. We were already familiar with them on our personal phones; thus, when companies began to deploy their own apps, training wasn’t necessary. This is the same concept—giving employees the capability to start a meeting, find a meeting room, request IT help, dial a number, etc.—all hands-free, as they’re already accustomed to. And, most importantly, it’s what employees want in their workplace environments: seamless to use, intuitive technologies that make their jobs easier, rather than introducing more steps and added headaches.
Voice control is transforming the way that we live and work, as one of the first personal—and, now, professional—forms of artificial intelligence to penetrate our daily lives. The demand isn’t just in traditional homes or offices, either, but, rather, in every space in which we live and work, including hotels. For example, thousands of guestrooms at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas NV feature voice-control capabilities.
As Alexa becomes smarter, with a greater number of skills and capabilities, we will soon be able to offer a nearly touch-less living and working experience. Soon enough, the idea of having a virtual personal assistant in any environment, trudging through our emails and organizing our everyday schedule, or just adjusting room settings to our liking, will no longer be a fantastical dream but, rather, a lived reality.