I know so little about technology that when DVD players were a thing, I never even hooked mine up. I heard it was simple to do, but I didn’t want to bother reading the manual or thinking about it. Fast forward a decade-plus, and these days, I do find it educational to read about new technologies. In that vein, I found an article in Fast Company by Steven Melendez forecasting the big workplace technologies of the New Year to be enlightening.
“Andonix aims to let manufacturing workers harness conversational artificial intelligence (AI) with Andi, its digital assistant. Andi contains information on more than 1,000 manufacturing skills and has the ability to answer questions (say, what a particular machine’s error codes mean) and automatically generate training materials and checklists for particular tasks,” Melendez writes.
I’d love this technology in my home office—if there were a publishing/journalism version. How many times do I have questions about the topics I am writing about? I could buy an Alexa device from Amazon or ask Siri via my iPhone, but I get a sense that I could benefit from a trade/business journalism-specific, or just a journalism-specific, digital assistant. There’s nothing like having a digital assistant who is skilled in the particular field in which you work, whether that be manufacturing or publishing. Maybe my journalism version of Andi could help me with search engine optimization of my articles and help me write social media posts that would drive likes. And I would love help identifying people and companies to tag in my posts.
“Clockwise’s AI lets busy people schedule meetings by expressing their availability and preferences conversationally rather than through laborious back-and-forth e-mails or complex forms. Based on OpenAI’s GPT-4, AI lets users give commands such as, ‘Clear my schedule for tomorrow’ or ‘Find a time to meet on Monday,’” Melendez writes.
This technology seems unnecessary for tech-efficient people who use systems such as Google Workspace and other similar systems. I use Gmail for work and am able to see my colleagues’ schedules when I go to “create an event,” so I can avoid proposing meeting times that conflict with appointments already on their calendars. The big BUT here is that I don’t use this mechanism enough to remember how to do it. Every time I need to look through my colleagues’ schedules, I try and fail a couple times before I figure it out again. A faster and more intuitive way to schedule meetings with co-workers would be helpful.
“Datapeople’s AI offers guidance on drafting job posts to attract candidates from a variety of backgrounds. The AI can provide help with inclusive language and compliance with laws on subjects such as pay transparency, and it will ensure that postings include basic facts such as benefits and location,” Melendez writes.
This technology seems like a huge plus since diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives finally seem to be gaining strong traction. The easiest thing is to hire people who look like you and have a similar background. It’s far harder to find candidates who come from countries or cultures that you know little or nothing about. The technology also could help an organization stay out of trouble by providing inclusive, Human Resources-compliant-friendly language.
“Logitech’s Project Ghost is a one-on-one videoconferencing booth designed to make people feel like they’re in the same room as the person they’re talking to, even when they’re across the world. It uses unobtrusive cameras and microphones, along with a system of reflections first developed for 19th century theater, to hide the technology so people can focus on their conversations,” Melendez writes.
Many of us continue to work from home nearly every day, which offers benefits in cost savings from not commuting, the ability to sleep later, and the luxury of a private bathroom. For me, these are the only high points of working remotely. Being isolated day after day, outside of standard video calls, can be boring and depressing. A technology that gives you the illusion for an hour or so that you’re not working in your isolated cell may be psychologically beneficial. The downside of this technology? It doesn’t sound like it’s meant for home offices, where it’s most needed. It sounds like it’s more for people in one office to communicate more effectively with people in another office.
What workplace technologies are you looking forward to exploring for your organization in 2024?