Business Collaboration Tools, Wearables, and IoT Trends to Watch

So, wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) tech (two device categories that have been ready to change the world for some time now) didn't quite hit their respective zeniths last year. That doesn't mean these super-useful, super-cool takes on business tech aren't super-valuable to businesses, though. From business collaboration tools to customer-facing, experience-boosting goodies (and beyond), here are a few directions wearables, IoT, and other technologies could take in the very near future:

Virtual Reality

Yes, VR devices only recently started to hit the consumer market, and yes, there's still plenty of room for the tech to grow in that space. However, ignoring these perception-altering wearables and their huge potential as business collaboration tools is a dire mistake, which many organizations are sure to discover as useful business applications for the groundbreaking tech hit the market.

Three men and a woman sitting at a desk during a business meeting.
Business collaboration tools will improve communication and efficiency in the workplace.

For example, take Hololens, a Microsoft product primed to hit shelves in the second half of the year. For one example of the tech's potential, architects could use it to take teams on a guided holographic tour of a proposed change to a building they're working on. For another, surgeons could use the tech to give their colleagues and clientele a full, detailed view of the work they'll be doing, all before a single incision is made. Imagine the headsets sitting on a workstation desk alongside desktop scanners and other peripheral tools, and you start to see the potential. It's another way for creatives, builders, and others to share their respective visions with their companies and the world.

Data, and Tons of It

The average IoT device's strength as a data-collection endpoint is nothing new to businesses. Indeed, metric collection undoubtedly accounts for a large amount of the annual spike in connected IoT devices, according to Statista. If nothing else, businesses love their statistics.

What does this mean for the broader world of business collaboration tools and business collaboration? In a word, everything. The team of warehouse employees trying to improve their company's process flows could well learn from IoT beacons reporting real-time and historical employee movement. Healthcare logistics teams, on the other hand, could use IoT tools to optimize staffing, patient room placement, and pretty much anything else that requires a little logistification. If IoT-generated data was already a big deal in 2016, expect it to become revolutionary in short order.

(Even More) Unified Communications

Think about the slate of unified communications (UC) tools you probably use at the office today. You might not use every feature, but it's nice knowing they're all there. More, there are a few that would probably make your life really difficult if they vanished tomorrow.

To this end, expect wearable tech to slide right into its own communicative/collaborative niche soon. Here, the idea of seeing what your employees, colleagues, and teammates see tops the list. Whether you're a real estate professional examining a property for telltale signs of damage or a code enforcer ensuring your city's sidewalks are up to snuff (or something else altogether), the ability to quickly share what you're seeing in real-time is highly valuable in numerous business settings. If the idea's not something every employee in every business would use daily, it's incredibly valuable to those who need it — the exact reason robust UC tools come with a host of features to begin with.

Efficiency Through Automation

Sometimes, promoting efficiency means looking at things employees don't do — or wouldn't, if they didn't have to. Automation of rote tasks, a major focus of IoT technology, can help businesses do just that. Here, business collaboration tools can boost productivity and cut down on administrative busywork, which is certainly welcome in any team environment.

For example, a printer may automatically order ink when it's running low or call a technician when it's malfunctioning. Compared to watching Steve struggle with those overlong ink cartridges (and potentially losing even more productivity when he pulls the wrong tab and gets yellow ink dust all over his work clothes), that's a lot of time saved. Going back to UC, beacon-powered presence tools that automatically update depending on your location — changing you to "busy" when you're in the conference room, for example — further boost productivity on a subtle yet team-oriented level.

The IoT-Improved Experience

Effective CRM integration has been all the rage for a while now. IoT tech, with CRM's remote-monitoring, data-collecting capability, has all the makings of a disruptive addition to this trend, a fact that should shine through this year and beyond.

Expect "opt-in" to be the key phrase as CRM improvements roll out and roll on. For customers, this means a chance to choose which relevant promotions (and other information) reach their eyes. On the other hand, companies can leverage this relationship to learn more about their clientele than ever before. For example, customers who opt into a digital rewards program get targeted content from wireless beacons as they walk through certain points of the store, while the store gets stronger floor-tracking and customer-movement data, helping the company create customized content that will turn window shopping into conversions.

To put that another way, the relationship aspect of CRM will be a big thing in the near future and beyond — and it all starts with customers determining that they want the relationship. If you work in a relevant space, now is the time to start the dialogue.

Let Vonage Business show you what a unified communications platform can do.

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