If you happened to stop by Oracle’s booth at the HR Technology & Expo earlier this month, you saw we were giving away virtual reality (VR) headsets. If you’re not familiar with VR headsets, let me describe them. Once you put them on, you’re completely immersed in whatever is displayed on a screen that’s right in front of your eyes. Plus, your movements are recognized by the headset, and when you look in a different direction, the image responds accordingly.
The implications of this are immense. While one of VR’s most common uses is for video games, there are professional uses being developed too. For example, imagine a surgeon wearing a VR headset and seeing an endoscopic camera feed.
So, what does VR have to do with human resources? While VR might never make it into HR technology, Oracle is always thinking about the future and how technology innovations can affect our lives at work. With this goal in mind, Oracle continues to invest in the future through work in our cloud user experience (UX) lab, in Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, California.
Preparing for the Future of Work
In the UX lab, Oracle’s engineers, designers, and researchers are exploring technologies that one day may become part of the Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud. We believe the user experience is much more than simply the user interface (UI). We’re trying to make the UI disappear and let the user’s interactions with the system occur more naturally.
Here are three examples of technology we’re exploring. They’re not part of any HCM Cloud roadmap, but demonstrate how Oracle researches forward-looking concepts to understand how they may transform HR.
#1: Amazon Echo Meets Oracle HCM Cloud
Voice assistants such as Amazon’s Echo and Apple’s Siri are becoming a bigger part of our lives. Perhaps you’re already asked Siri for directions or requested Echo to stream your favorite music playlist.
But what if everyone’s workstation included an Echo? We’ve developed an integration with the Echo so instead of logging in to a self-service portal to view benefits, you can simply say, “Alexa, how many hours of vacation time do I have available?” (“Alexa” is the word used to get the Echo to listen to a command.) The Echo’s integration with Oracle HCM Cloud lets it answer. The integration goes beyond simply receiving information. We’ve also developed an integration where you tell Alexa you want to change your family status because just had a baby. Upon this command, the Echo will update benefits statement.
Thao Nguyen demonstrates an R&D project using Amazon Echo integration with HCM Cloud in the Oracle Cloud UX lab
#2: Apple Watch Can Be More Than a Fitness Tracker
Wearables such as the Apple Watch are more than a technology fad. But although they’re now primarily used for fitness tracking and to view notifications and messages, Oracle’s UX lab is exploring how wearables can smooth interactions with HR systems.
One function we’ve developed is the capability for employees in the field to log their hours based on geolocation, which is tracked by their watch. For example, when a technician arrives at her assigned location, her watch will automatically identify the location and start tracking hours worked, in sync with the time and attendance module in Oracle HCM Cloud. And when she leaves, the timer stops and the time worked is logged.
#3: A Smarter Office with the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is technology that lets “dumb devices” such as a light switch or air conditioning unit to communicate over the Internet, letting users control them remotely, or even letting the devices operate intelligently based on data they receive from their environment.
The Cloud UX lab has built a prototype of a “smart office” that’s loaded with IoT technology. The idea is that flexible offices can be more than empty places for remote workers to plug in their laptops. We imagine a future in which employees can personalize their virtual office, and those personalizations follow them to any smart office they visit.
Imagine an employee arriving to an office lobby and saying “Alexa, I need a flex office.” On that command, the system will recognize the user based on voice recognition and geolocation, identify a free smart office in the building, and tell the employee which room is ready. The assigned smart office is then customized to that employee’s saved personalizations such as temperature and light levels. A wall of displays in the office will log in automatically to the various dashboards that the employee last used. When the employee leaves, the room resets itself for the next one who visits. The implications of this are even more far reaching, as more and more companies are doing away with assigned office spaces, where all offices are flex offices to accommodate mobile employees.
Tony Orciuoli, from the Appslab, the OAUX emerging technology team, demonstrates a concept for a smart office
Employee Experience is a Competitive Differentiator
These three examples are cutting edge and may never see the light of day. The important thing to remember is that we’re not innovating just for the sake of innovation. We believe that through technology, we can improve the user experience and boost employee engagement. With employee workplace expectations higher than ever, make sure you’re prepared for the future with an HR vendor that focuses on more than just an attractive UI.