18 Apr The Office of the Future
We love technology at h2o, from Account Executive Luke’s smart home to Animator Simon’s virtual spinning classes. Keeping our eye on the future and the future possibilities (and marketing capabilities) of technology is not just part of our job, it’s something we’re all passionate about — just ask Luke’s house.
Today Client Services Director, Iain, will be taking you through some of the technologies that may be coming (and driving you) to an office in the near future.
There has already been a lot written about driverless cars, including the debate about liability and decision making. Whilst there is still more research and development to be done to ensure that the AI is absolutely bulletproof and reliable in every situation, it may not be long before active driving is a thing of the past. With Google, Uber and most of the major car brands playing around and investing heavily in the technology, could the designated driver on evenings out be a thing of the past?
In terms of business and marketing, this presents a number of exciting opportunities. Imagine being able to plan and make notes for your morning meeting whilst being driven to work. You could even conduct your meeting in the car on the drive in either by picking up colleagues or via VR, meaning that when you got to the office you could hit the ground running. Offices could become truly mobile, as it could be perfectly feasible to work in your vehicle. Hot-desking could become parking outside the office. Which is a very exciting prospect for anyone who has spent the day hunched over with their laptop on their knee perched on a folding chair.
The potential implications for driverless cars are far wider than avoiding awkward hotdesking. It could change the way that we interact with vehicles and even the layout of cities. A driverless car (obviously) doesn’t need a human telling it what to do. This means when you’re not using it, it could be off doing other chores and tasks — picking the kids up from school, driving an old lady to the shops — anything. While a regular car would be sitting in a car park taking up space whilst you’re at sitting at your uncomfortable hotdesk, the driverless car could be zipping around the city doing good deeds.
The implications for this in terms of the cityscape are that we would need fewer car parks as vehicles wouldn’t be inactive for large portions of the day as our cars currently are. Car parks could then be converted into other buildings which is an exciting development opportunity at a time when urban space is at a premium.
The concept of ownership of driverless cars could also change. Why would you purchase a car of your own when you don’t need it all the time and it could be off doing well elsewhere? Could the cities in the future see more of an Uber model of short term leases and paying-per-lift? It’s an interesting and exciting idea.
The marketing possibilities for brands and agencies are only limited by our imaginations. Interactive smart billboards could use big data and customer historical data to create tailored campaigns aimed at particular segments. If the cars are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), could service stations monitor petrol (or electric battery) levels and promote campaigns or offers on refuelling at their premises? When the topic of marketing to the driverless car passengers/users/former drivers came up in our offices, the ideas were flowing. It is definitely a technological advance that has huge potential for marketers.
I was slightly hesitant to include wearable tech in this list, as there is a school of thought that it has peaked. The trend is no more, it has ceased to be, it’s expired, an ex-trend (if you didn’t read that in the John Cleese voice from the Monty Python Parrot sketch, please re-read).
Sales in the Apple Watch have steadily declined since its launch and FitBit have been forced to make redundancies due to poor performance. This may be due to the currently limited capabilities of the tech.
There has been some debate about the ethics of brands providing wearable tech to employees. Is the data from these devices the property of the employee or the company? Can it be used to assess employee performance for example?
Despite these barriers and teething issues, we think wearable tech will still have a place in the office of the future. Bracelets such as the Fitbit can monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and even movements to accurately judge your mood. Using the IoT and the connected office, it could communicate with your surroundings (your driverless car/office for example) to optimise the lighting, music, temperature and a myriad of other factors to help you reach your maximum productivity. Wearable tech could make Monday blues a thing of the past. Taking this concept further, wearable tech could assess your mood and stress levels, review your to-do list and recommend the best task for you to undertake in your current physiological and psychological state. Relaxed and creative? Why not tackle that blog?
Again as with the driverless car, this connectivity presents a wealth of opportunities for brands. Could coffee companies use data like this to create hyper-local campaigns that advice stressed workers to visit their store to have a break and relax? Could a local gym send details of a workout class to its members or employees of approved businesses who have been inactive during the day?
Obviously, all our marketing hypotheses and plans depend on the availability of consumer data — a problem that already is the scourge of many a marketing strategy. Will consumers feel under surveillance in a 1984-esque environment if every aspect of their data and behaviour is broadcast and recorded
Although it has its detractors, we do firmly believe that wearable tech has a place in the office of the future. Although, we’re not convinced that watches will replace smartphones!
AR & VR meetings
My colleague Simon has already discussed augmented reality (AR) in a previous blog post so I won’t spend too much time repeating his excellent blog that I’m sure you’ve read (if not, click here to check it out).
We think that augmented reality will feature prominently in most workplaces. In the long term, AR is predicted to replace everything that has a screen, our computers, TVs and even our beloved smartphones.
Some notable examples that we can see occurring in the near future include: surgeons having a patient’s vital signs on a headset whilst they are operating, sports coaches having player’s statistics visible during training and matches without taking their eyes off the action and teachers incorporating it into lessons to bring textbooks to life. A really useful tool that we’d definitely love to see would be the ability to pull up someone’s Linkedin profile during networking events. For anyone who’s been desperately looking for some small talk to lead into your elevator pitch, a bit of insider information could be a godsend.
Virtual Reality seems like it’s been around for decades. However, it seems that we finally have the technology capable of bringing it to the masses and more specifically, the workplace. If you’ve ever travelled miles and miles for a meeting, the prospect of being able to meet face to face with a client or colleague without having to leave your mobile office/car is very appealing. Webexes, telecons and Skype calls are all useful business tools, but they all aren’t quite the same as being there with the person.
VR meetings can take the pain out of meeting face to face. We think in a globalised world with most companies having multiple offices, less travel and more work would be a popular concept.
VR presentations about what a product will look like already exist. Some high-end architects use the technology to show clients what a building will look like when it’s completed. Being able to walk around and explore a virtual building is a very effective method of selling a concept. The technology to demo a product isn’t widely used yet, primarily due to the eye-watering price tag at the minute. As this technology matures, we’re expecting prices to drop and it to become more common in pitches and demonstrations.
In terms of marketing, this may mean that the marketing team of the future needs to include a VR designer. Marketing campaigns could soon involve sending influencers the VR data for a new product if h2o created a sports car for example. This would allow them to experience the product first hand, in their own time, which could make product releases more widely available than simply an event. In our car example, the user could even potentially drive the car around to sample it. This would be a great way of creating hype and buzz globally around a product before its release.
The technological advances that are on the horizon are extremely exciting and the office of tomorrow is certain to be an exciting place. At h2o we’re eager to see what the future holds for the marketing industry.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the future technologies that will feature in the office of the future. We could ramble on for pages about how much we love technology, but we’d better be disciplined and stop now.
If you’d like to discuss any of your marketing needs, give us a call, pop us an email, or come and see us in our non-smart, very-much-anchored-in-reality office for a good old-fashioned cup of tea.