Organizations have historically explored the means to improve their efficiency and effectiveness in different areas of their operations. As a result, managers have focused on using various types of technologies to achieve their organizational and business objectives (Westerman, Bonnet, & McAfee, 2014). The primary focus has been to implement mechanisms that support employees in their organizational tasks to become productive. Companies could benefit tremendously from using new technologies. However, decision-and policy-makers in organizations should understand the technologies, which, individually or integrated, can be relevant to their operations. Depending on their needs and investment plans, they can use automations, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and artificial intelligence. Although companies can benefit from such technologies, decision-and-policy-makers should understand the opportunities of adopting these tools, the potential negative impact, their use based on organizational characteristics, and the potential changes in the future.
Information technology experts have developed various technologies that organizations can use to improve their business efficiency and effectiveness. They decide whether to use each individually or blend two or more approaches depending on the firm’s type, size, and needs. Researchers have explored various aspects of these technologies, including their implementation, use, and benefits to companies, such as improved effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity (Hitomi, 2017). The available technologies include automations, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, and artificial intelligence.
Organizations are increasingly using technologies to monitor and control their processes and tasks. They achieve the objective with the support of innovative technological applications and devices, such as software, ladder, and logic controls. They use central computing and other means, such as Robotics and ERP systems (Nimawat & Shrivastava, 2016). Using these mechanisms to improve the organization’s efficiency is at the core of automation. The process involves the application of information technologies and control systems to decrease the need for human intervention in organizational functions.
Automation improves the production of goods and services, reduces the cost of materials and production, and increases profitability through higher production speed and capacity (Rust & Huang, 2012). For example, workflow automation utilizes software to control business functions and processes, which eliminates repetitive tasks, gains efficiency, minimizes mistakes, and cuts the cost of production (Nimawat & Shrivastava, 2016). Regardless of the size of the organization, automation increases efficiency and productivity.
In some industries, the production process is complicated and requires high precision and sophistication. Besides, increased globalization and demand for quality and quantity require a faster and highly efficient production of goods and services. As a result, manufacturers require an approach to prevent deviations and production delays while using streamlined processes (Webel et al., 2013). Augmented reality is a technological process that overlays data into the user’s physical environment. Therefore, the process provides vital text or uses tools on demand. The concept ensures that processes are streamlined in the production process by availing necessary data in real-time.
Companies can use virtual reality to improve their operations, such as manufacturing. Technology refers to using computer technologies to establish a simulated environment through which people in the manufacturing and other departments can operate (Büttner et al., 2017). Unlike the conventional user interface, the applications include the user within the simulated experience. People are immersed in virtual reality and can operate more efficiently and effectively in that world. Virtual reality allows the simulation of various human senses, making the computer a gatekeeper to the artificial environment.
Technology experts can take advantage of the best of the two worlds of reality. They developed mixed reality with the potential to improve operations, taking advantage of virtual reality’s and augmented reality’s strengths (Grasset, Mulloni, Billinghurst, & Schmalstieg, 2011). Mixed reality is a concept used independently or in classifying the spectrum of realities. It creates a virtuality continuum, which improves business operations (Ricci, Piunti, Tummolini, & Castelfranchi, 2015). Independently, mixed reality integrates the best of the two realities. However, classifying a broad scope of reality technologies suggests the integration of all potential compositions and variations of virtual and real computer objects.
Artificial intelligence is another process that improves production speed and processes to prevent deviation or production delays. Artificial intelligence improves the collection, processing, and retrieval of all necessary data in time for use by the production team (Skilton & Hovsepian, 2017). The technology introduces intuitive guides, machine learning, and data capturing to streamline production activity. Artificial intelligence continues to grow in the market, and it is anticipated to increase its use in predictive analytics to improve business operations. AI is one of the most invested areas in the use of technology. As a result, many AI use cases exist internationally (Skilton & Hovsepian, 2018). Therefore, businesses benefit from strong analytical capabilities to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.
Integrated Use of Technology
While some of the technologies can be used independently to improve business processes, others provide powerful capabilities when used in combination. For instance, research shows that combining augmented reality and artificial intelligence can improve the organization’s collaboration, communication, and efficiency. Consequently, integrated use decreases equipment downtime and maintains production schedules (Dong, Behzadan, Chen, & Kamat, 2013). Modern augmented reality and artificial intelligence can effectively handle a wide range of challenges to support daily workflows that empower users and increases safety in the manufacturing processes (Kim, Jeong, Park, Ryu, & Oh, 2018). Notably, technological applications can be used in areas that are dangerous for human intervention, ensuring the safety of people working in the production department. Implementing technologies can overhaul production processes at a global level.
Integrating artificial intelligence, automation, virtual reality, and augmented reality significantly impacts how people work and live. They are creating solutions that enable people to explore the effective and efficient world of completely immersive computer-generated solutions (Büttner et al., 2017). For example, companies are taking advantage of immersive computer-generated worlds (in virtual reality) and connecting computer graphics to how the world is viewed (through augmented reality) to improve business and production processes. In the near future, virtual and augmented realities will become more sophisticated and create stronger and more capable automated applications and programs (Farrell, Ham, Funke, & Rognes, 2013). The business world will experience a new world where people interact and navigate the networked setting to establish extremely “natural” means of interacting and working.
Potential Negative Impact of these Technologies on Health, Privacy, and Security
Although the technologies can potentially improve organizations’ efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity, they have some drawbacks that their users should understand and mediate. The drive to capture users’ attention to the technologies creates two key challenges. Firstly, the health and well-being of the users are at stake due to the implementation and use of the technologies (Flavián, Ibáñez-Sánchez, & Orús, 2019). Increasingly, non-screen activities are connected to human happiness. In a longitudinal study, the researchers established a negative relationship between increased engagement, such as virtual and augmented reality, and the users’ well-being. The results suggested a potential trade-off between offline and online associations (Hall & Takahashi, 2017). Therefore, people who “live in the created computerized worlds” are likely to be unhappy and suffer other negative mental health challenges.
Secondly, a challenge of privacy and security exists in using the technologies. Research reveals a lack of sovereignty over private information when using technologies that rely on big data. The fear of an invasion of privacy might hinder the adoption of the technologies in organizations. For example, companies that collect and manage customers’ information might avoid the technologies to prevent violation of the integrity of their information Flavián, Ibáñez-Sánchez, & Orús, 2019). The World Economic Forum created a report which revealed that 47 percent of subjects across six nations have avoided or quit using technology due to insufficient information security controls. The percentage increases to as high as 70 percent for China (Hall & Takahashi, 2017). Therefore, the security of information stored in the information systems is another challenge in using the technologies. Globally, no adequate controls are available to guarantee the security and integrity of information on the technologies. The data suggest that information security and privacy are serious concerns for users of such technologies.
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