Almost everything we use in this day and age is “smart” – smart devices, smart homes, smart cars, smart TVs. Technology is constantly getting smarter about what we’re doing, what we’ve done in the past, and what we need now as a result – whether it’s Google suggesting a restaurant we might like near our location, or Facebook knowing what kinds of ads to serve you at a certain time of day. There are myriad “personal assistant” devices that you can simply call on to help you find anything you need.
That has translated spectacularly into our daily work lives, as well. The “Internet of Things” connects everything we need to get our jobs done faster and with greater ease and efficiency. According to the IDG Research Services Study: Internet of Things 2016, 72 percent of companies expect IoT to “become important or very important over the next two to three years.” I would argue that it already has: We use our phones to read email, communicate with coworkers, create content, keep track of projects, and submit timesheets and expense reports. The software solutions we use are accessible in the cloud and integrate with each other to share data for better insights and flexibility. All of this to drive increased mobility, efficiency, and profitability.
What is “Smart” Time Tracking?
I mentioned that workers are already using their smart phones (and other mobile devices) to submit timesheets and expenses. Smart technology makes it easy for field services employees to track their time everywhere they work. Time tracking technology, however, is going beyond that use case and becoming even more intelligent.
Through machine learning/artificial intelligence and connectivity, time tracking is making the seemingly mundane (yet time-consuming) act of filling out and/or processing a timesheet quicker and easier. There are several ways time tracking is becoming smarter:
Connections between applications: Most time tracking solutions have various integrations with different applications to help automate certain processes – which means less manual work, less time, and less error. For instance, your timesheet could sync with Exchange to pull your calendar entries and tasks directly into your timesheet. For someone who needs to process timesheets for payroll or billing, an integration with the accounting platform will make that process quicker and easier, as well as result in more accurate time data.
Task automation: In addition to these examples of automated processes, many time tracking solutions have features that automatically capture time in different ways. For instance, some time tracking applications will monitor time spent online and automatically log it against certain tasks or projects. RFID proximity can even be used to automatically clock an employee in and out when they arrive at or leave work.
Machine learning algorithms: Machine learning is the concept of systems “learning” over time and inherently using that data to help you in different ways. When applied to time tracking, we can use the aforementioned example of your timesheet syncing with your calendar and suggesting entries for your timesheet. As your time tracking system learns from how you correct and categorize those suggestions, they’ll become more and more accurate – which will save you more and more time.
GPS/Location tracking: For employees who work in the field (either at various job sites, or in the transportation industry), location tracking technology can zero in on your location to track time on a particular client, or track mileage and time spent on the road.
Time tracking technology is developing by leaps and bounds to make what used to be a completely manual, tedious process into an almost fully automated one. As more companies realize the crucial role IoT plays in their business operations, they’ll begin to adopt more smart technologies and see the cost benefits of using them to the fullest extent possible for their needs.