Imagine how your day might look in the workplace of the future. Your computer knows your face (it’s how you log in); it responds to your gestures; and it knows your voice. You connect, dock, and charge your personal computing device by simply sitting there, without the need for any wires. Even better, your computer becomes the assistant you never had. That 11 a.m. client meeting on your calendar? There’s an accident blocking the fastest route, so you’ll need to leave 20 minutes earlier. You didn’t know this, but your PC figured it out and told you by making contextual insights into your schedule. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Between this future-state vision and where we are today lies a transformational journey. And it’s never easy. In my last blog, I discussed how the nature and style of work is changing to support the need to innovate with velocity. To achieve true transformation, companies must overcome many barriers to change, from the cultural and environmental to the technological. Here I want to take a closer look at some of the technological leaps that will make the transformation possible, both in terms of where we are now and where we’re going.
Supporting natural, immersive collaboration
We all know that social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) has changed things. Because today’s workforce is distributed across sites, cities, and even countries, collaboration can be a real challenge—a scenario exacerbated with the advent of agile practices working across company boundaries.
Take a typical brainstorming session, for example. Using a whiteboard to sketch out ideas is key, but it has limitations for workers attending by phone. Someone either has to explain what’s on the whiteboard, copy the work into meeting notes, or take a photo of the whiteboard and e-mail it. Not to mention that the picture, possibly of your company’s “next great idea,” uploads to your favorite public cloud provider. And while videoconferencing would seem a likely alternative here, video quality can be lackluster at best.
Intel is taking an innovative approach to solve these challenges. Advanced collaboration technologies will let workers connect in an intuitive, natural way—whether it’s a global team, a small group, or a simple one-on-one session. Unified communications with HD audio and video (complete with live background masking) is already changing videoconferencing with a more lifelike experience. And workers can interact in real time using a shared, multitouch interactive whiteboard that spans devices, from tablets to projection screens and everything in between. The whiteboard is visible and accessible to all attendees in real time. And that digital business assistant? One day it could even use natural language voice recognition to automatically transcribe meeting notes and track actions!
Boosting personal productivity
When it comes to productivity, the devil is in the details. And often those details translate into lost time, whether it’s a dead laptop battery or a password issue. Let’s say you forget your password and you can’t log in without IT assistance. It’s a drag on your time (and theirs), but it’s also interrupting workflow. Sharing work can also take longer than it should. We’ve all been there, in the conference room, stuck without the right adapter for the projector (“the thing that connects to the thing”). And if you can’t project, there’s not an easy way to share work.
Intel is making great strides to free workers from these burdens of computing by supporting existing workflows for maximum productivity.
- A workplace without wires built-in wireless display now allows workers to connect automatically
- “You are your password”
- And getting back to that assistant … it will know you. Instead of having to tell your device everything, the reverse will be true. We foresee a day when your PC will know where you are, what you like, and what you need (like leaving early for that meeting). By anticipating your needs with proactive, contextual recommendations and powerful voice recognition, it will be able to streamline your day. And built-in theft protection will automatically measure proximity and motion to assess risk levels if you’re on the go.
Implementing facilities innovation
While we are “getting by” in today’s workspaces, they typically don’t meet the needs of a distributed workforce and can pose problems even for those working on site. It’s often a challenge to find a free conference room or, if one is available, the room itself is hard to find. I touched on videoconferencing earlier, but this is a place where the technology makes or breaks the deal. From poor quality audio and video to the wrong adapter, it all hampers workflow.
Intel is working to enable an integrated facilities experience through location-based services and embedded building intelligence. Location-based service capabilities on today’s PCs can help you find the resources you need based on current location, from people to conference rooms and printers. And like your PC will one day “know you,” so will the room, meaning it will automatically prepare for your meeting—connecting participants via video and distributing meeting notes. Immersive, high-quality audio and video will guarantee a natural, easy experience. And future installments of touch, gesture, and natural voice control will become more context aware, taking collaboration and productivity to the next level.
This perspective on the role of technology in driving workplace transformation can be seen in action by watching the Intel video, “The Near Future of Work.” Additionally, I’m currently working on a paper that will expand on Intel’s vision of workplace transformation, and I’ll let you know when it’s available.
However, while technology is a huge piece of the puzzle, there is so much more to it. True workplace transformation requires the right partnerships and culture change to be effective. For the next blog in this series, I’ll be taking a look at how to approach a strategy for workplace transformation and share key learnings from Intel’s own internal workplace program.
Jim Henrys, Principal Strategist