The business world will look very different ten years from now – both technology and labor market experts agree on that. Automation, AI, machine learning and virtual reality are the pioneering technology drivers that will have a significant impact on the future of collaboration.
From automation to virtual reality
3D printers build entire houses. Robots produce goods independently. Innovative smart software solutions allow to increasingly automate repetitive tasks. Such application scenarios are no longer a dream of the future. Current software innovations have shown that machines can now do more than just manual, monotonous work. Computers are increasingly able to replace brainpower. They can now independently learn things and skills that previously required a thinking person.
The result: computers and robots are continuously killing jobs. According to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Tesla and Space X boss Elon Musk, powerful computers, and intelligent robots will increasingly replace human jobs without creating new ones for them to the same extent. Whether intelligent machines will take control of the future and drive people out of factories and city offices or not. The fact is: In the future, people will no longer be the measure of all things at work. We are on the threshold of a new era. And we’ll confront with increasingly smarter machines that can both learn and think independently.
How automation is shaping the future of work
As the most important trend of our time, digitalization has already radically changed the business world. First the PC, then the Internet, later the cloud and social networks. About ten years ago the smartphone, then the smartwatch and other “wearables”, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. Each of these groundbreaking innovations change the way we work.
But digitalization as we understand it today is just the beginning. Automation is starting to play a central role in the private and business environment and it will continue over the next ten years. The best example is self-driving cars, which have been driving autonomously on public roads for years. And according to current forecasts, will be standard ten years from now.
The automation of production and business processes will continue to prevail everywhere and in every industry – not least in classic office work. As Wired magazine reported, according to a study by the consulting firm PwC, more than a third of all jobs in Germany could be lost through automation by 2030. Another study, this time from Oxford University, comes to a similar conclusion: By 2030, a good 47 percent of all jobs in the United States could fall victim to automation.
AI and machine learning are key
Automation is primarily driven by developments in the area of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Thanks to computing power, storage capacity and an almost endless amount of data from which computers can learn, software is becoming increasingly intelligent.
Digital assistants such as Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), and Alexa (Amazon) are already an integral part of everyday life for many users. In the next ten years, such solutions will take on more and more tasks independently. They will also be integrated into business solutions. Salesforce with Einstein, its new AI solution for companies, and IBM with Watson already show enormous potential.
The Internet of Things
With machine learning, companies are starting to turn the ever-increasing flood of data into a stream of insights. Because in our increasingly networked world, every digital interaction contributes to a ever-increasing flood of data. Since the beginning of the Internet of Things (IoT), cars, refrigerators, sensors, and even textiles have generated millions and millions of data points. Thanks to intelligent business analytics solutions, companies can now use all this information in their benefit. Tailored marketing campaigns, personalized customer service, and reliable business forecasts.
Virtual and augmented reality
In addition to automation and AI, virtual and augmented reality are among the most important technology drivers that should determine the future of work. Many researchers are convinced that this technology is already on the threshold of mass adoption, such as the Internet was 30 years ago and the smartphone 10 years ago.
With their new VR products HoloLense and Oculus, Microsoft and Facebook respectively are trying to prove that virtual reality will soon be part of our daily life. According to Mark Zuckerberg, virtual reality is a good candidate to become the next big computing platform. In five to ten years, it will be ready, says Facebook founder. According to a recent study by Dell, over half of the employees surveyed assume that VR technologies could make online meetings more productive in the future. Millennials are particularly open-minded: 77 percent of the employees born between 1980 and 1999 are ready to accept the new communication channels, according to the study.
Digital workplace as a central working environment
As a result, spatial and temporal barriers will continue to disappear. So instead of being in the office and fulfilling hours, work will be more about tasks and projects. Employees will work flexibly on whenever and wherever they feel more productive. Working remotely will no longer be an option for just a few knowledge workers, but for entire workforces across several industries.
In this context, the “Digital Workplace” as a centralized, connected and available work environment will play a critical role. Employees can communicate and work on a single business platform. The times of switching between many programs to find the urgently needed document will be a thing of the past.
The future of work is already practiced in many companies today. Working remotely, productive teamwork and flexibility regarding time and location. This has long been a reality for many employees worldwide. Current trends such as automation, virtual and augmented reality, the Internet of Things, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will further accelerate this development and help companies and employees to become more flexible, efficient, and productive.
A central digital workplace will play a critical role. All business processes and data brought together, regardless of whether they are generated by humans or machines.
The automation of production and business processes will continue to prevail everywhere and in every industry. By 2030, a good 47 percent of all jobs in the United States could fall victim to automation.
In the next ten years, AI solutions will take on more and more tasks independently, and will also be integrated into business solutions.
Employees surveyed assume that VR technologies could make online meetings more productive in the future. Millennials are particularly open-minded about this.