Three trends that will revolutionise organisations in South-east Asia in 2018

Augmented reality in retail, a technology-infused employee experience and virtual assistants in the workplace are among the leading innovations expected to drive organisational change in Southeast Asia and around the world in 2018, according to IT consulting and services provider Avanade.

Avanade’s new predictions build on the trends forecasted for 2017 and the company believes the following innovations are poised to drive new opportunity for organisations:

  1. Rich digital experiences in-store and online will become the norm, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) will be retailers’ best friends. It’s no secret the retail experience is changing. While stores have evolved, consumers are trading in-store shopping excursions in favour of rich, digital experiences.

In 2018, retailers in South-east Asia should embrace and experiment with new digital technologies to complement in-person experiences, Avanade said. These include AR/VR experiences for trying on clothes to virtual assistants providing customer service via chatbots to interactive merchandise tables in stores and supermarkets. Avanade recently conducted research to understand whether consumers perceived virtual assistants are able to do a better job with holiday tasks than they could.

“More than half of retailers we surveyed plan to use AR/VR and robotics in their stores in the next one to two years, and it’s important to understand the impact of those technologies on the workforce,” said Omer Ali Khan, general manger, ASEAN at Avanade. “Digital tools that help train staff and provide personalised employee experiences are as important as those that engage the customer.”

  1. Automation and technology will reinvent the employee experience, giving organisations an opportunity to reinvigorate how employees work. Human resources or the people departments within organisations have typically been tasked with employee engagement and work satisfaction, among other things. As new innovations emerge, the future of work is born. In 2018, technology leadership will be called on as consultants to help drive engagement, productivity and business value related to digital adoption from employees across organisations.

“Organisations need to create a digital adoption strategy with personalised productivity and communications tools to support and augment how the employee works,” Khan added. “This can lead to a more productive and social way of working, a more engaging user experience, an improved ability to attract and retain top talent and more – all pointing to improved employee engagement and efficiency.”

  1. Voice and virtual assistants will move into the workplace, opening up exciting opportunities for organisations. Avanade predicts 2018 will be the year of the voice, especially outside the personal, consumer realm. Initially, this consumer technology will impact organisations and change the way they work by increasing productivity and helping with time management. For example, personal assistants and office managers will more easily be able to find and book travel while multi-tasking. Computer programmers will be able to voice search for pieces of open source code for projects.

“Virtual assistants allow the potential for countless businesses and organisations to incorporate them into daily work for increased efficiency and productivity,” said Khan. “These virtual voice assistants like Cortana, Alexa, Siri and Google Home are the leading assistant platforms at the moment, but with the expansion into the workplace, this list will likely grow, adding new entrants, possibly ones for business, and de facto standards will also emerge.”

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