Commerce / Sep 2015

The Office of the Future

Virtual Office solutions allow us to work from anywhere, and at any time. Technology to support this agile way of working is evolving every day – from conferencing and project management softwares through to the high tech artificial intelligence virtual assistants. What does the future look like, and will these tech savvy virtual tools ultimately make us more productive, and allow us work harder, better, stronger, faster?

Slack Technologies CEO Stewart Butterfield has likened their artificial intelligence software, ‘Slackbot’ to Samantha in the 2013 Spike Jonze film, Her. “There’s a moment when Samantha reveals that she’s talking to thousands of other people, that could happen here,” he told The Australian recently.

Butterfield’s Slackbot will be the virtual assistant to everyone one a team simultaneously, while also having access to the company’s institutional, project management and HR knowledge. The aim is to boost company productivity by up to 30 percent.

 

Earlier this year, Facebook announced the release of its Facebook at Work application, which will allow businesses to create their own social networks amongst their employees that are built to look and act like Facebook itself. Employers can create separate log-ins for employees to use with their Work accounts, or users can link these up with their other profiles to access everything in one place. The application is in direct competition with Slack and other softwares like Yammer, but Facebook’s version may have more stead in the future for the sheer volume of its social users and the weight of its popularity.

Within the proposition of Facebook at Work, Facebook is testing a virtual assistant called Moneypenny, named after the assistant to James Bond’s MI6 boss. While Microsoft, Apple and Amazon have their own versions of the futuristic virtual assistant, these all employ computer algorithms to answer people’s questions and requests. The key difference for Facebook’s iteration is that it will connect users to real people to help who will then help them procure or book whatever they need. Moneypenny is yet to be released.

Will these aspirational virtual tools make us more, less or equally as productive? If Apple’s Siri failed to impress, will Facebook’s MoneyPenny change the way we work and collaborate?