It’s rumored that Steve Jobs left Apple a binder that outlined four years of product development. Most of us would probably love to make that binder bedtime reading material sometime soon, but that’s a long shot.
There are however, many technologies already available that are revolutionizing the business world. Let’s look at five emerging technologies that may change the way you do business or run your office.
Portable office setups
For several years now, sales reps have made good use of wireless technology to communicate from the road, access the company network and get onto the Internet. Today, with portable hot spots teams of workers can be networked and have Internet access. Two tables pushed together at Starbucks can be just as productive as the office conference room. If you add in things like office space providersand professional answering services, some businesses may never need to commit to anything like a long term lease for office space.
For decades futurists were promising video-telephones. That really never happened as advertised. In reality, the technology leapfrogged over the idea of building a little video screen into landline phone sets. Everyone with a computer and webcam can video chat with their families and friends. Emerging from that technology are a host of services that provide video conferencing for interoffice communication. You, coworkers, and clients strung around the planet can attend the same meetings or brain storming sessions using websites such as Twiddla, Teamlab, Vyew and Stixy.
Make the robot do the work
If your “virtual” presence in the office isn’t enough, you might consider a robot. We’ve been watching robotic arms paint our cars in automobile factories for many years now. Can robots around the office be far behind? Anybots is selling a robot that you can remotely control. You can poke your head in offices, chat with coworkers and attend meetings. You no longer need be constrained by time and space, well, time maybe still.
3D and flexible video
3D video is already making a strong play for the home market. Imagining great 3D entertainment content is not difficult. A natural first step over into the business community will be in trade show displays. 3D virtual reality for training purposes could also be just around the corner.
But, 3D video isn’t the only new product that we might soon be seeing in the office: flexible screen technology is also making inroads.
Atlanta-based company, called NanoLumens is producing beautiful video on thin, lightweight, flexible screens. As Christopher Columbus proved, the world isn’t flat, so there must be a virtually infinite number of places where a flexible video screen can be deployed.
Again, promotion and trade shows are obvious applications. Also, being lightweight, these screens can easily, and safely, be setup almost anywhere.
Automated decision making
By now most of us are accustomed to spell checkers that automatically correct our errors, although auto-completion can be a bit of a pain sometimes. Automated decision making is poised to come into the business mainstream in the not too distant future. GoogleLabs experimented with this idea recently when it acquired Aardvark. Aardvark used Google Chat to connect people with questions to others who would likely have the right answers. We’ll be seeing artificial intelligence correcting our mistakes, anticipating our next moves and suggesting ideas to us in a wide variety of business software applications in the future. The job of futurists is a risky one. No one’s crystal ball is without its flaws. What technologies do you see in the future of business? What do you think is inside of that binder Steve Jobs bequeathed to Apple?
David Ching is a marketing strategist at EQA Office Furniture, a San Fransico-based office cubicles company. Package pricing and free 3D virtual walkthroughs are available on EQA’s site.