Lately when I’ve been thinking about an organization’s application portfolio, I’ve begun to evaluate them from a few strategic directions. Sometimes the work that needs to be done may be boring, but prioritizing the portfolio spend defines the innovative nature of a business and our measures may need to change...
I was talking yesterday to a professional futurist about the workplace of the future. We started off with the question “How do you think the workplace has evolved/changed over the last 10-15 years?”
I thought there has been an interesting merger of entertainment and work over the years with more gamification (Entertainment as work) and work taking place everywhere (work as entertainment). The days of sitting on a plane or train and resting are over – working is almost always an option.
We are well on our way to move from discrete devices to personal ecosystems that support our sensory, communications and entertainment needs. For example: 15 years ago, we would use MapQuest to print out a map before driving somewhere we’ve never been before. It was soon replaced by low cost discrete devices like a TomTom or Garmin. Today, I can do all that on my Android phone. It is less than a commodity, directions are a side effect of other tools I use.
My phone now knows when I am in the car and I can make it change its behavior for that environment, with little or no thought on my part. It can use the cars speakers… This shift to an integrated environment view rather than a product specific view is fundamental and well underway and will expand out to hotel rooms, conference rooms… rather than just my home office or car.
Another big shift that I’ve seen is the use of a whole communications arsenal instead of just email. 15 years ago, email was considered cool and new to some people – I think I had my first email account in the early 80s. Now it is recognized in its rightful role as a conduit of workflow and information… The synchronous phone call is almost an imposition not the mainstay of collaboration of a few years ago. Now hybrid tools (Lync as an example) is unifying communications, bridging between the asynchronous IM (r u there?) and buffering, yet supporting the interruption required for synchronous voice and video. With consumerization, we have those same capabilities in our personal lives now too (and they may even be better) and with a smart phone available all the time..
Personalization is common. We have come to expect that websites know we’ve been there before. With 3D printing, I can make what I want when I want it. Some of the cottage industry mentality has come back, allowing people to do what they want to do, at home.
What do you see as the biggest shift? I’ll try and put a post about some of the ways I see it shifting in the future soon, as well the effect on IT.
I am old enough to remember when the first PC landed on my desk, as well as my first laptop, smartphone… now it is an assumed part of work today. It takes more than new technology to differentiate an organization.
As I mentioned last week I presented on the importance of understanding Attention in business to the New Horizons Forum , part of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conference. I put the Attention Scarcity in a Connected World presentation out in slideshare, if anyone is interested.
The nice thing about going to a conference outside your normal area of concentration is that it allows you to look at things differently. One thing that caught me a bit by surprise at the conference was the degree of overlap with the concepts presented in the New Horizons’ keynote titled "Big Bets in USAF Research and Development" by Maj General William Neil McCasland, Commander, Air Force Research.
Much of his presentation was about the impact autonomous and semi-autonomous systems were having on the military and the shifts that need to take place in both the implementation, validation and testing of these systems, as well as the processes that surround them. Granted he was coming at the problem from a different perspective and was focused much more on the automation side than the interaction between the humans and automation, but he touched on many of the same points as my brief presentation.
These overlaps drove home the “perfect storm” that is taking place in automation, regardless of the industry. Many people realize that the tools are out there and have different perspective of what the tools can do. These differences are actually what innovators need to look out for, since in many cases they can complement an approach. Even when they are not complimentary, the lessons learned may still be applicable.
The panel I was part of at the conference was moderated by Rupak Biswas, NASA Advanced Supercomputing division chief. After our panel, we had a long discussion about the shifting role and capabilities of automation, behavior modification and the role of IT organizations within organizations.
One of the areas we discussed was the use and deployment of gamification within an organization, specifically related to knowledge management and sharing of expertise. Although the IT organization definitely needs to be involved in the integration of information and its flow related to knowledge management and collaboration tools, the business side needs to be responsible for the goals, metrics, rewards and behavior changes that are required. They are the ones who will judge success of the project.
Collaboration between these two groups will be required, since neither can accomplish the task effectively on their own. This may seem obvious, but since some organizations view the IT team as a more cost conscious, support organization and that core business process tasks need to be funded and attacked separately from the IT efforts, this isolationist view may be a luxury that is too expensive to maintain.
Next week, I am going to be part of a panel at the New Horizons Forum that is part of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conference. The panel is going to be focused on: Information Technology – Spin-On Technology for Aeronautics and Space. Essentially leveraging efforts into Aeronautics and space.
I’ll have a few minutes to present where I’ll focus on the shift in how we will use people and computing in the future and talk through some examples. In many organizations have so much data coming in that there is no way that any organization can effectively consume it, using today’s techniques.
I’ll use a simple model to show how things are changing and where HP labs is focusing research. The model is that one datum is a point, 2 data are a line and three are a trend. 100 data points are a picture or pattern. When you can move beyond calculations at the bit level and actions in isolation, whole new levels of capability open up.
Today, we think about working with data primarily in isolation. We need to start thinking about storing massive amounts of data (using devices like memristors), computing on the patterns using different techniques (like Cog Ex Machina) and using whole new approaches to focus the attention of those who need to act upon the context described by the data (like automation and gamification).
A holistic shift in how we approach sensing will be needed:
When I think about the work done with HP and Shell to gather detailed seismic information for oil detection and production, it makes me wonder about possibilities of families of sensors gathering data for planetary exploration. It also makes me wonder about using crowd sourcing techniques to tease out meaning from the unique items that pattern matching on all that data can identify.
It should be an interesting panel, for the audience and the panelists.