The Future of Work

"The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is,
in fact, a return to the idealised past."
Robertson Davies, "A Voice from the Attic", 1960

I've been thinking about the nature of work. Can there be any doubt that:
  • The nature of WORK is changing rapidly
  • WHERE you do it
  • WHEN you do it
  • HOW you do it
  • WITH whom you do it
  • The SPEED at which you do it
  • What you have to KNOW
  • What you have to do
  • And the DECISIONS you have to make
...all the while working to meet the demands and expectations of your organization.

So it has been interesting to review some of the recent future workplace concepts from RIM and Microsoft. The technology and interfaces are certainly very cool. But in large measure most of the depicted activities are things we already do.
  • I think I could have predicted the developments in mobility we see today 10 years ago. I've been wanting the ability to link my smartphone to local devices and to create virtual interfaces exactly as shown in these videos for some time.

What is missing are new styles of work. Those things are much harder to predict and they are what will matter far more.
  • I would not have been able to predict social networking as we know it now 10 years ago. Especially as it has affected B2C and B2B activities.
This customer service concept from RIM shows how an idealized version of today's social networking can be used to detect power outages:

BlackBerry Future Visions 1 from Evan Blass on Vimeo.

There are many elements in this Microsoft Office conceptual video, but there is a certain irony that one of these (near the end of the video) is how to use a computer to manage cooking recipes - this was one of the first proposed uses for home computers in the 60's when people could not conceive of the uses we have since discovered.

Playing to its strengths in security RIM demonstrates in this video how automated provisioning and de-provisioning could work:

BlackBerry Future Visions 2 from Evan Blass on Vimeo

I must admit that omniscient IT guy is a little scary. Maybe that's just my perception although I do like how he can provision personal devices to work in an enterprise.

So while I like these concepts, I'm pretty sure they are missing the killer application that will be the biggest driver of change. I don't know what that will be, but I'm confident there will be one.

So I'll close with another quotation:

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." 
Alan Kay

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