With CES 2018 in full swing, emerging technologies continue to shape our digital future. While many of these new toys are aimed at consumers, their business applications are already being utilized. The buzzwords this year are no surprise; smart tech, IoT devices, VR headsets, and consumer AI are all over the headlines coming out of the ubiquitous convention.

These devices will inevitably make it into the workplace; some will be brought in by employees looking to put their new ultra-thin laptop to work, while others will be integrated by business owners to help simplify and streamline day-to-day operations or add a welcoming atmosphere to the office. All of these new pieces of tech will need to find their place within a business’ established IT architecture. Following established and evolving guidelines and using these 7-tips for selecting the right ITSM tool will help business’ find a safe application for the introduction of these new tools.

Consumer AI

The use for consumer AI products like Amazon’s Alexa may not seem readily apparent, but they’re already finding their way into the workplace. Initially aimed at business meetings and intended to be used as a conference room assistant, creative uses for these devices are already being discovered. Able to be programmed for specific tasks and pre-loaded with useful information, as well as full access to web-searches and privately installed databases, it quickly becomes clear that digital assistants can have a big impact. The evolution of these devices into true smart-hubs is already being seen on the floor of CES 2018.

Being able to ask for regional sales data on-demand when it becomes a hot-button topic at the weekly sales meeting, or instantly retrieving end-user survey statistics for internal IT management can streamline the way employees interact with each other in the conference room. As these devices become more advanced and further integrated into their surrounding environment, it’s not outside the realm of possibility to manage an entire presentation directly from a virtual assistant hub. A popular trope in science fiction – the omnipotent “Computer!” – has suddenly become a very real technology being placed in the hands of managers right now.

Like any interconnected device, the management and tracking of virtual hubs will need to be carefully monitored by IT staff. Security concerns become especially important, particularly when these devices are linked into internal databases with potentially sensitive information. It is very likely that this technology will meet similar IT requirements to other IoT devices, but with a higher priority placed on its maintenance and security.

VR Tech

Spoilers ahead: virtual reality tech is still a big deal. Despite a lukewarm reception a few years ago, tech companies continue to develop and evolve their futuristic looking headsets. Already finding use in niche sectors of business, particularly with design and architectural firms, these headsets allow users to explore a virtual world of limitless potential. With some VR sets featuring fully functional augmented reality through the use of motion sensing controllers or other devices, the realm of science fiction is once again brought screaming into the present – sometimes literally, as many VR users have found out!

Business applications here will generally be limited; VR headsets won’t be making the transition from living room to conference room in waves. Regardless, there are a handful of sectors that can greatly benefit from the ability to fully experience content and designs in a more intimate and personal way than would be possible from a screen.

Like any other multimedia device, these VR headsets will inevitably find their way into IT infrastructure in much the same way as a computer monitor or tablet PC.

Smart Devices and Ultra-Lightweight Laptops

If they haven’t already flooded your workplace they will soon, because a whole host of new handheld and lightweight computing devices and smartphones are coming this year. Laptops in particular are seeing huge leaps, with long-lasting batteries, ultra-thin profiles, and most importantly, being virtually weightless. With some especially lean laptops coming in and just over 2 pounds, employees transporting their own tech to work will be easier than ever.

For some IT managers, this is a logistical nightmare. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies can already be complex and require additional tracking and security on the part of network and systems administrators to ensure both the end-user and the company is protected. Business’ that lack an established way to handle their employees’ personal smart phones, laptops, and tablet PCs are putting themselves at significant risk for security vulnerabilities and malicious intrusions. In some extreme cases, it may even be necessary to completely restrict the use of these devices in the workplace.

In most business environments, however, these devices can be a boon to productivity and employee morale. Being able to work on their own private device, or bring work to and from home, can have a huge impact on efficiency. So long as these devices are properly managed on the business end, their use can be encouraged and welcomed.

There’s More Coming

There’s even more technology coming in 2018 that will have their own creative and interesting applications in the workplace. As progress marches inevitably forward, it’ll be a challenge to ensure this new tech is properly managed in a safe and secure way.