It is healthy to take a step back from the technological changes of today to strategize on how the technology and business landscape will evolve in the future. The Institute for the Future (IFFF) and Dell Technologies researched the technological changes of 2030 and their impact on our workplaces, culture, and personal lives. The study involved 4,000 business leaders across a diverse group of industries and 17 countries. The research identified divided opinions on what the future will hold, but unity on how to best move forward into that future.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Danny Cobb, Dell Technologies corporate fellow and vice president of global technology strategy, about the research and what the future might hold for us. Danny is fortunate to be able to spend much of his time thinking about emerging technologies and long-term technology strategy, so our discussion ventured forward to 2030 to see what companies need to do today to prepare for the business of tomorrow.
Over the last few years, we have seen the advancement of several technologies that will come together to fundamentally change the way we live and do business. IoT (Internet of Things) is empowering humans and machines with more information on the real world while AI (artificial intelligence) improves the insights that can be obtained from this and other information. Augmented reality (AR) overlays a digital perspective to our world, while VR (virtual reality) allows us to step away from our surroundings to explore new ideas, ways of learning, and forms of communication. Through robotics, computer systems interact with humans more tangibly and perform tasks with tireless dexterity and precision. All this is integrated and orchestrated in the cloud.
The resulting convergence of IoT, AI, VR, AR, robotics, and the cloud will likely bring about an era where many common activities today are automated. Robots already reside on many factory floors to automate assembly processes, warehouses to sort and retrieve goods, or our homes vacuuming our floors. This will only increase to make us more productive. In this future, computers will perform more routine and analytical tasks, allowing for humans to focus on more creative activities and human-to-human interactions. As Karen Quintos, Chief Customer Officer at Dell said in the Realize 2020 executive summary, “stronger human-machine partnerships will result in stronger human-human relationships.”
It is important to understand the evolution of these technologies as a partnership. This is not a competition between man and machine, despite what the science fiction novels depict. Our tools are simply becoming more advanced and capable of taking on a greater role in our lives.
For example, imagine waking up and home speaker system ties into your cloud to provide you with clothing recommendations. “You have a meeting with Tom Sullivan at 3:00 PM. Based on previous interactions, you will make the best impression wearing the blue suit, white oxford shirt, brown loafers, and the red houndstooth tie,” the speaker says. A closet organizing system keeps all your clothes organized in a compact space and the requested clothes are brought out freshly pressed upon your confirmation of the wardrobe recommendation. Your breakfast is prepared based on the dietary recommendations from your doctor and health activity monitors, cross-referenced with your food preferences. A self-driving car then takes you to your first appointment of the day while you attend a company meeting in the company VR portal.
Technology Needs Increase Cybersecurity Risks
The need for cybersecurity in an increasingly connected world is clear. As computers become more intimately involved in our daily lives and those of our children, our dependence upon them will similarly increase. We are already at the point where many of us find it difficult to go a few hours without our mobile phones. In the future, even a temporary loss of technology may have, not only a productivity impact, but also a psychological impact on our lives. Furthermore, the subversion or corruption of our technology could result in the disastrous harm to our lives and businesses if, for example, medical treatment devices deliver the wrong medication, educational systems teach propaganda, or home and work automation cause us injury or damage our products and businesses.
Our cybersecurity frameworks and workforce competencies will need to dramatically increase over the next decade to be able to protect against future threats, but the process starts today as companies develop within their organizations a cybersecurity culture and with consumers’ stronger demand for cybersecurity built into the products and services they purchase. Such frameworks and cultures will allow companies to step forward with confidence as they embrace the technological landscape of the future.
Seizing the Future Through Transformation
Industry leaders agree that seizing the future will require digital transformation, workforce transformation, and security transformation. Some crucial items identified in the study include gaining employee buy-in, tasking senior leaders with spearheading digital change, putting policies and technology in place to support a remote, flexible workforce, empowering lines of business, and automating everything.
2030 may be 12 years away, but the human-machine symbiosis described in the Realizing 2030 research has already begun. Those companies poised to seize this future, estimate that they will step forward by putting effective cybersecurity defenses in place, delivering their product as a service, using AI to pre-empt customer demands, and delivering hyper-connected customer experiences with VR.
The important services of tomorrow demand crucial decisions today. Business change is exponential in that the strategies and changes made today will create the framework from which higher agility and innovation can be obtained. It is this agility that will produce the next and more significant round of transformation to build the business of the future.
This post was sponsored by Dell, but the opinions are my own and don’t necessarily represent Dell Technologies’ positions or strategies.