Top 10 Executive Gadgets
What gadgets should you be trying out in 2015? Take a look at 10 of the coolest purchases on the market, from anti-gravity platforms to the latest iPhone, finishing off with a look into the rapidly popularising domain of wearable technology.
10. Anti-Gravity Platform
Floating hamsters anyone? The Anti-Gravity Platform from Firebox will mystify – and it's also good fun. The ultimate desktop toy, it will lift anything up to 85g into thin air. It is driven by electromagnets (so keep clear of laptops and computers). It comes with lights and a globe just to get you started. Cost: £85 (€107).
9. Soundsight Smart Headphones
Headphones, essential kit for music aficionados. Soundsight gives you that little bit extra. Record videos up to a spec of 720pHD, or take photos as you move around. This is contemporary interconnectedness writ large – hey Facebook/Twitter friends look what I saw today while out jogging. The headphones have an 8GB memory, a Bluetooth connection, and a range of 16 to 20k MHz. They come with standard app to download and edit your tunes. Cost: £290 (€371).
8. Ironkey Personal 8GB
How important is YOUR memory stick? The Ironkey is an encrypted, password protected memory stick developed for Homeland Security. It also comes in a case which passes military standards. Guaranteed to protect your data from terrorists, spies, or curious children. And, all for £70 (€89).
7. Satechi 10000 MaH Portable Energy Station Extended Battery Charger Pack.
In need of juice on the go, multiple devices to look after? Then this is for you. As a power source the Satechi will supply gas to a whole list of devices. It will happily service the iPhone Six, 5S, 5C, 4S, 4 and 3GS, iPad Air 1, 2, 3, Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy S5, S4, S3, S2, Tab 10.1, Blackberry Playbook and HTC One. Impressive? A steal at around £45 (€57).
6. Panono Ball Camera
Invented by Jonas Pfeil, this little gizmo will take your image taking to new heights. It has an amazing 108 megapixel resolution and 36 in-built cameras designed to trigger simultaneously. This happens at the highest point when the Panono is thrown in the air (thanks to an on-board accelerometer). It can also be used on a pole or simply in your hand. Will set you back £450 (€576).
5. LG Lifeband Touch
This is a smartwatch that also tracks your activity on the go. Perfect, for the health conscious executive. Connects to your android or iOS smartphone, and displays alerts and messages. It also features an altimeter and accelerometer, can count the number of steps you take, measure the height of hills climbed, distance walked or ran. It also has a heart rate monitor. Will set you back £110 (€140).
4. Sony Playstation 4
This is the fastest selling console in UK history, shifting 250,000 units in two days, and comes with several free games including the popular Killzone Shadow Fall. PS4 is also a fully integrated entertainment package with Blu-ray and DVD facilitiy, as well as a Playstation app which allows gamers to use smartphones and tablets as a second screen to enhance play. Price: £349 (€447).
3. Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Is it a laptop, is it a tablet? Well, actually, it's both. Quirky? Yes, but it does have a great 12 inch screen. The Pro 3 - leaner and lighter than the Pro 2 – is a tablet that runs Windows 8 with great screen resolution.
READ MORE: Top 10 Tablets
It also has a snap on, snap off keyboard which gives it that laptop feel. Its performance is impressively fast. Introduced on July 18, 2014, the Pro 3 has a price range of £492 (€629) to £1231 (€1575).
2. iPhone Six Plus
Apple's new iPhone Six Plus has a sizeable 5.5 inch screen. A departure for Apple and makes this new smartphone a phablet – clumsy word, but adequate. It also signals a challenge to the Samsung Galaxy Note and LG G3, as well as wooing the Asian market. The Six Plus comes with an 8 megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation. The size of the phone makes it difficult to use single-handedly, but there is a reachability button incorporated. The Apple buzzword for the Six Plus is 'productivity', and its sleekly designed and slender, business-like features make it an attractive device for busy people. Prices range from £619 (€792) for the 16GB model, £699 (€895) 64GB, and £789 (€1010) 128GB.
1. Google Glass
Google Glass is pure William Gibson cyberpunk! A pair of spectacles with a built-in computer, you can turn it on by simply stroking the frames, or by tilting your head (freaky). Operate GG by, get this, voice. Tell it to take a photo, google, send a message to... Very useful if you are on the move.
The battery, hidden behind the right ear, does have a short lifespan, while the 'box' which provides you with all the data and interconnectedness, hovers neatly just above your right eye. GG is only in the first stages of development, but with this gadget we are glimpsing the future, will these devices replace the smartphone? For a cool £1000 (€1279) you can check it out.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”