Almost everyone has heard of Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. Increasingly, people in their homes use devices to perform a variety of functions including playing a favorite song, reporting on the weather, even making phone calls and answering obscure trivia questions such as, “Who won the World Series in 1942?” or “What was the population of Illinois in 1968?”
These AI (artificial intelligence) devices may be viewed as a mixture of convenience and luxury, but there’s another side to this story. These devices are making their way into the workforce, which can provide convenience and if used properly can also dramatically increase efficiency in the office. But with benefits can come risks.
Voice-first technology has moved beyond a trend to become a major part of the future and increases in popularity and scope each day. This technology has applications across all industries from automotive to manufacturing, and hospitality or health care. In an office setting, being able to say, “Alexa, print 100 copies of this” or asking, “Respond to my email from Alfred Jones,” will save time and allow more demanding tasks to have the extra needed attention.
But, as this technology advances beyond infancy, consider the issue of security and safety. Exactly how secure are these devices which employ artificial intelligence? As you connect these devices to your network, it is imperative that you adopt the proper software/IT solutions to see that the devices are protected and will not cause issues with your infrastructure. Typically, these devices are not secured from the manufacturer, and what that can mean is that it’s easier for hacking to occur. Be certain you consult your Managed Networks provider to be sure that this is the case.
Once that issue is addressed, then you can then evaluate the idea of voice-first technology to see how it works for your office and employees. From there you can develop a plan and adopt the technology into your business. Starting small with one device to help conduct smoother operations, while also testing the opportunity within the office space, is the best option when beginning the voice technology journey.
Some options available when using voice technology range from Amazon’s Alexa, Windows 10’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant. Each of these can be transitioned into to the work environment differently. Start by determining what your primary needs are. Do you need assistance with printing? Answering emails? What are the tasks that take too much of your time where a voice activated assistant could make life simpler?
The voice-first technology devices can complete a number of tasks for you. Think of having an assistant proofread documents, create reminders, data entry, perform searches, translate spoken words into word documents, and more.
There are devices being developed and used in office settings which use a voice-first interaction with the voice technology devices making this command a reality. By using your voice you can have something printed, scanned, or copied for you by using these devices together. Each of these actions can save time and this adds up to hours per week. And having the technology perform simpler tasks can potentially allow you to focus on more pressing issues.
It may seem daunting at first, not unlike the cars that allegedly drive themselves. So, if you are unsure of the process, start smaller. Begin with a few office tasks, and graduate to a larger scale, with copiers and printers. And what seems cutting edge today may not be in five years. As the technology continues to evolve, voice technology will become a bigger part of our workplace. Before long the prevailing wisdom may be that if you aren’t using voice technology then you will be far behind the curve. But that’s a way off. Start with small steps to integrate this technology into your workspace. As you bring your team on board it will change the way your company operates and succeeds.
• Chip Miceli is president of Pulse Technology, http://pulsetechnology.com, with headquarters in Carol Stream and additional locations in Rockford, Chicago, and Chesterton, Ind.
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