The break-neck speed at which technology is changing today means that businesses have to be more versatile and agile than ever. Those that can innovate and stay current on the latest emerging technologies will maintain their competitive advantage. Alternatively, those that get complacent will fall behind and lose their relevance.
If you look back over the past decade of innovation a flurry of new technologies emerged in a relatively short period of time. Mobile, cloud, social, and Big Data (otherwise known as Gartner’s Nexus of Forces) have led to epic transformations in the way we live, work, and interact with others.
Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s almost scary to consider what the next ten years may hold for how we work and conduct our business. Pew Research Center’s Internet Project has raised this very question recently by looking at “the future of the Internet, the Web, and other digital activities.” Canvassing various experts, the organization brought together its findings in the report Digital Life in 2025. One of the major outcomes of this research predicts that within 10 years the internet will become “an ambient information environment where accessing the Internet will be effortless and most people will tap into it so easily it will flow through their lives ‘like electricity.’
From a business standpoint this prediction is quite profound. Imagine the internet becoming ‘like electricity’. We can only begin to fathom the possibilities of ubiquitous computing, wearable technologies, internet of things, and much, much more, not to mention how all of this will impact your organization. So let’s extrapolate from what we currently know to what we can safely project about the office of the year 2024.
Driverless cars: Your day will start with automation and end with it. Weaving through traffic will take on a new dimension as you spend the time catching up on emails and checking the latest news.
Virtual assistants: You will see much less administrative assistants and more smart machines doing the same jobs, but cheaper and more efficiently. Artificial intelligence will advance to the point that many jobs we take for granted today will become outsourced. Speech recognition systems will develop to the point where a robot can answer the phone and provide tech support with a digital voice that sounds strikingly similar to a human voice.
Wearables: Smartphones will go the way of the PC and wearables will become our new devices of choice for staying connected in and out of the office. Google Glass is just the beginning of a whole new realm of real time awareness and connectivity that will be mediated through our eyes, ears, and limbs. In fact, Google Glass will look like 80s eyewear compared to the small, sleek designs of the future. Smart contacts will be one option.
Ubiquitous computing: The old bulky PC screens and smartphones will become a relic of the past as we see instant connectivity extend to our surroundings. Clear, transparent touch-based surfaces will provide endless ways to interact digitally with our environments. The Internet of Things will give way to the Internet of Everything so that every object has the potential to fit into the digital universe of sensors, data, and machine learning.
Telepresence office-workers: Despite the appeal of driverless cars, more and more people will opt to work from anywhere, which in turn will make remote work a great way for businesses of the future to save on real estate and utilities. Their in-office avatars will be autonomous robots that transport remote employees around from meeting to meeting while seamlessly blending into the office.
Ten years seems like a long time. But in actuality it will be here before you know. We’re already seeing signs of the office of tomorrow. The best way for business leaders to prepare for the future is to stay up on current emerging and disruptive trends and be ready to move when the newest technologies are introduced. Be an early adopter of the latest and greatest, and look for opportunities to beta-test the newest technologies as well. Get outside the office and look at how the world is changing and you’ll begin to see what lies in store for the business of tomorrow.