Businesses and HR need to be constantly looking to the future, especially when it comes to technology. New technologies can bring major changes to every industry, and yours is no exception. Email changed how information is spread through a company, the internet allowed companies to interact seamlessly across the globe, smartphones have lead to the rise of the always-connected employee, and more.
So, as new technologies are introduced and popularized, it falls to HR to make sure that when employees use them — that they protect both themselves and the company. Failing to set up these protections could lead to serious damages to your workers and your business. Here are some of the hottest rising technologies that you need to be aware of:
The VR Age Is Happening
One technology that is making major waves in VR. While the initial application for VR headsets was for video games, it has since found applications in tons of other industries. Surgeons are using them to practice surgeries, data analysts are using it to visualize data in three dimensions, artists are using it as a medium to spread awareness for global causes, the NFL uses it to work with players, and some businesses are training new employees with VR tech.
While it is unlikely that VR headsets will completely replace computers and laptops, there are clearly places in most businesses that they could be used. Before your business starts to find ways to utilize VR, you need to prepare some policies and protections.
First off, as they stand right now, VR headset are very vulnerable to hacking and malware. If your headsets aren’t in an isolated environment, meaning that they can connect and download things off the internet, you need to find a way to protect them. Right now, there isn’t a lot of malware for VR headsets, but there will be as it becomes more popular. Make sure all VR headsets have accompanying security software.
Another thing to think about are the types of programs your employees will be able to access on your VR headsets. Video games are a major area of concern, as that is what they are most known for, but because of the private nature of a VR headset, a variety of unproductive content can be viewed without other people knowing. One potential solution to this is to have a policy and software in place so that whatever a worker is viewing on their VR headset also shows up on their computer monitor.
AI and Chatbots
While the idea of intelligent robots capable of independent thought seems a little science-fiction, it’s actually a very real technology being worked on today. We now have AI’s that can: play video games, use and talk to people on social media, find solutions to major problems from big data, and tons more.
What makes AI amazing is the ability to learn from its mistakes and successes and change over time. It can run internal simulations, experiment, and learn from humans. This is both fascinating, and terrifying. AI can learn to do a task, perfect how it does it, and then do that task tirelessly and without errors 24/7.
Yet, AIs are not flawless. As clearly seen when Microsoft launched an AI chatbot onto Twitter, AI can learn the wrong things and go nuts. If you create an AI for internal use only, you need to have policies set up on how employees are to interact and teach it. That way, people won’t go teaching the AI how to curse or purposely make mistakes. You should also implement tools where HR representatives can monitor how employees are interacting with the AI, to make sure they aren’t doing anything malicious with it.
If you decide to have an outward-facing AI, like a chatbot to interact with customers, you will need a whole host of new things to protect your company. Since the AI would be representing the brand of your company, it will fall to the employees to teach it enough to prevent a debacle similar to Microsoft’s.
Employees and Wearables
Wearable technology is a new trend that is growing popularity across the globe. Smart watches, Fitbits, smart clothes, and more are all becoming more commonplace, and a forward-thinking HR department can use this to their advantage.
If employee health is a big focus for you, wearable tech that tracks exercising can be put towards a health program. That way, you can actually track whether employees are working out and reward them accordingly.
Other wearable tech could be used to track employee efficiency, or possibly even where employees spend their time at work. If the company were to give out GPS tracking wearables, they could theoretically follow where employees go during work hours, where they might be wasting their time, or even help locate workers in a time of emergency.
The problem with wearables is making sure private information is kept safe and that employees don’t feel like their privacy has been violated. Control who has access to the data provided by the wearables, and only use the data to help improve both the employees and the company. It’s also important for employees to know that HR will be monitoring, in order to prevent employees from feeling like they are being spied on.
Keep Up or Be Left Behind
Technology is rapidly improving and businesses that don’t adapt to it fail. HR works along the same line. If they don’t keep ahead of how their business uses new technology, they’ll have to clean up a mistake later. It’s much easier to plan how your employees should utilize new tech then it is to fixing it later. Work with your company, establish policies early on, and revisit those tech policies as the tech changes.
The major innovations to watch out for are VR, artificial intelligence, and wearable tech, but they aren’t the only ones. If you see employees using new tech in their personal or professional lives, start researching the impact it can have on your business.