Every CIO has to deal with the stark reality that there is limited bandwidth to play with new things. At the same time, there is daily pressure from your peers and manager to make progress on the change agenda.
The key is to ensure that your own team is focused where it really counts and can make a difference. I’ve also learnt that over the years, there are always hot technology topics that get a disproportionate amount of attention.
So what are the hot pieces of enterprise technology you should invest in when your team has spare capacity?
Let’s start with productivity and virtual reality. An amusing choice of buddies, with one a potential toy to waste time cycles and the other aimed at pure efficiency.
Internal and customer facing productivity
Every organisation has cost cutting drives. The most direct way to achieve cost cutting is to do more with less, starting with getting our staff and contractors more productive.
Here are some tools that will boost your team’s productivity.
We have all used various tools to help with office productivity and usually without achieving this very goal. Can I suggest that you give Slack a trial?
Slack is a team communication application for the Mac, PC, iOS, and Android platforms which provides real-time messaging, archiving and search services.
The interactions can be one-on-one, private groups, persistent chat rooms, and direct messaging as well as group chats organised by topic.
Now, you may be cynical about the tool’s benefits when you start using it but what makes it special is the integration with third-party tools Google Docs, Skype, Dropbox, Heroku, Crashlytics, GitHub, and Zendesk.
For a local Australian company, you should also check out Rapporr. Again, this is a product that you have to stop yourself from dismissing. In effect, this productivity tool is aimed at the class of users that are never at a PC.
It’s about branch staff solving immediate challenges - having rosters and relevant updates and training etc. Powerful examples for the use of Rapporr are seen in remote workforces in retail and distribution. For instance, thousands of workers at Salmat distribution don't have effective or secure access to information.
These staff can now do their deliveries, have a record this and submit their ‘proof of work’ using smartphones. Challenges are resolved quicker through the greater context rapporr offers.
As we all strive to tackle improved customer experience, we have to address being able to easily interact and engage. Newer products like Twilio are aimed at making communications more contextual by embedding voice, video, messaging and authentication directly into applications.
This is a developer platform that works by merging the worlds of cloud computing, web services and telecommunications. A number of leading enterprises like Uber, Box, DocuSign, Nordstrom, Coca-Cola, Walmart and Home Depot are using Twillo.
A company that hails from the San Francisco Bay area provides a customer support solution with multi-channel support through Facebook, e-mail, phone, forums, and Twitter.
When you push the customer support button on Uber’s app, it provides a list of support topics in static text. In contrast, Freshdesk is able to provide an in-app, real-time messaging service more akin to We Chat.
The company’s customers include 3M, Honda, Hugo Boss, University of Pennsylvania and Unicef.
Another product that I’ve used is Trello, which is a free app that makes working on group projects feel like dragging sticky notes on a whiteboard.
The product's intuitive drag-and-drop interface and visual way of organising a team will get you up and running quickly. The app can be used on smartphones, tablets, and desktops.
As we enter the digital era, being able to quickly take information out of core systems and expose them with APIs is mandatory. Apigee has been used to simplify the delivery, management and analysis of APIs both from legacy systems and also from Amazon Web Services (AWS). In this regard, developers have been using Apigee to expose AWS through this tool.
The Royal Dutch Touring Club, eBay and Walgreens are amongst its list of customers.
Enough work now, let’s talk virtual reality
We have all seen and tried the Samsung Gear, HTC and Occulus Rift virtual reality products.
While we all can start to experience being in the front row at a concert or ringside at a World Heavyweight Championship title fight, there is also early adoption across industries such as health care, real estate, retail, travel gaming, and education.
A local startup in Australia is Forcite Helmet Systems. The company offer a helmet that has a 4k camera, communication system and battery all packed into one unit.
Once you wear the helmet you basically take others with you. I’m writing this article from the ski slopes of Japan. Just imagine being able to share a 360-degree view of your experience in a hands free situation.
Actually for my experience, you will see all my embarrassing falls and bloopers. But, when this is worn by your favourite NHL ice hockey player, you are in the game and can see what he sees.
This US startup – already valued at US$4.5 billion with Alibaba leading the most recent investment round – is creating a head-mounted virtual retinal display which superimposes 3D images over real world objects. It does this by projecting a digital lights into the user’s eye.
Its Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology generates images that are indistinguishable from real objects and seamlessly places them into the real world.
Work or play?
The once separate worlds of work and play are slowly coming together. I won’t be surprised when virtual reality becomes a productivity tool. VR devices are going to be too compelling not to bring into the office.
David Gee is the former CIO of CUA where he recently completed a core banking transformation. He has more than 18 years' experience as a CIO, and was also previously director at KPMG Consulting. Connect with David on LinkedIn.