What is commonplace in the collaboration technology space has been rapidly advancing in the past decade as smart phones, virtual meetings, and project management software become standard in office life. Whereas in the 1990s you may have been paging coworkers out of the office, sending faxes, and leaving voice mails, now you can contact and interact with team members instantly via automatic meeting data, smart rooms, and virtual reality (yes, really).
Meeting technology is evolving from email, conference calls, and video conferencing, to "smart” technology that keep attendees organized. These solutions are cutting out email chains, meeting recaps, and disorganized notes.
The newest smart technology for 2017 is virtual personal assistants. Typically cheaper than in-person executive assistants, virtual assistants look through your online calendar, collaboration software, and chats to automate the meeting preparation process. For instance, a virtual assistant will comb through all of the invited meeting attendees’ calendars and select a time that is convenient for everyone rather than coordinating in endless email chains and calendar invite revisions. Virtual assistants can also comb through email communication and company data to determine the agenda for a meeting as well as who should attend.
While a degree of privacy may be sacrificed with a virtual personal assistant, it will save you time and money having the meeting preparation process automated and outsourced.
Manual post-meeting tasks are also reduced significantly with Smart Project Management and Smart CRM software. These solutions update your Gantt chart schedules and customer records post-meeting almost instantly. Smart software can also recap the previous meeting so you're well-prepared for what's next.
Ultimately, meetings will become less reactive and more proactive as productivity is improved by smart meeting technology.
Ambient Room Technology Increasing Efficiency
The introduction of ambient intelligence, or AmI, technology will become more and more popular in 2017 as more businesses look to use tech to streamline their communication and data collection processes.
AmI can take many forms, but refers to technology that can adapt and react to your behavioral patterns, location, communication style, or other aspect of your daily routine. For instance, AmI can check people in once they enter a meeting room and automatically sync meeting agendas, goals, and next steps to their calendars and online notes.
AmI can run in the background, continuously collecting data on the behaviors and patterns of people in the office and can make recommendations for efficiency improvements, ultimately saving time and money.
Speed and Access to Data...No Matter Where or What the Data Is
The ability to efficiently collaborate with colleagues, no matter where they are, makes getting things done much easier. But if the data you need isn’t accessible, that collaboration is dead in the water. There’s nothing worse than getting into a meeting and having to build a report on the fly because you didn’t have access to it.
Organizations are using mobile forms solutions to simplify remote data collection and bridge the gap between the field and the office.
In addition to real-time access to field data, mobile forms also prevent errors at the source by getting the data in right the first time. Plus, companies can collect and analyze information that’s not possible with paper, like images and GPS coordinates.
The right mobile forms solution will allow you to integrate your data with the tools you’re already using to trigger work flows, automating what used to be time-consuming data entry.
With a mobile forms solution, everyone can access data in real-time as soon as it’s collected in the field.
Virtual Reality: Not Just For Gamers
Ever since becoming commercially viable several years ago, virtual reality (VR) has been the hottest item in incoming entertainment technology. While often associated with gaming, VR is increasingly being seen as a valuable resource in numerous industries. VR can help medical students practice surgery, simulate military training exercises, and make everyday office responsibilities come to life in a way that increases employee satisfaction.
VR can be used in human resources by showing a long-distance prospective employee around the office, test product launches by using off-site focus groups and testing reactions in VR environments, and much more.
Perhaps the most useful application of VR in the office is through data visualization. Imagine being able to see those boring Gantt charts, Excel sheets, and PowerPoint presentations, but in an immersive and engaging virtual experience. This may seem far off or unnecessary at the moment, but it is increasingly clear that VR will come to be an integral part of many businesses in the years to come and in ways we don’t expect.
Whether you're trying to have smarter meetings or find a better way to handle remote data collection, collaboration can be made easier by these technology solutions. Use them to simplify your processes and automate daily activities.
Alex writes about collaboration tools, PM best practices, and other tech trends at ProjectManager.com