Thursday 17 March 2016

Digital convergence – will you be ready?

The near future workplace will be quite different to what it is now. There are several technological developments that are going to have a big influence on the way that we work.

Two of the most important of these developments are hyperconnectivity and digital convergence.

The future workplace

A technological sea change is about to occur in the workplace, with the emergence of hyperconnectivity and the "Internet of Everything". In this scenario almost all devices and office appliances will have chips in them, allowing them to communicate with each other, and with the broader business network and the Internet.

This hyperconnectivity will have a big impact on the ways in which we work. For instance, any flat surface that we pass will be able to have a customised touchscreen projected onto it, with which we can interact. Cloud computing will deliver the data and information that we need, so that we can work from anywhere on any device, using apps delivered over the network.

Unified communications with presence notification will allow us to locate and contact colleagues, business partners and clients. We will know exactly when they are available and the best way to contact them, be that by instant messaging or video-calling.

And in the midst of this will be a move towards digital convergence – a single device that is able to use all of this new technology.

A single device for everything

Convergence will become almost all-encompassing. We will use a single device for everything that we do – and we'll be able to use this device virtually anywhere.

Using always-on Wi-Fi we will use our device to connect to the Internet or company network. As soon as we have logged in the entire interface will be customised for our individual requirements, work habits and priorities. All the software or apps we need will be ready for us to use. Any information we need will be delivered via the cloud.

These devices will also have unified communications software that will detect when our contacts are available across all channels (voice, instant messaging, video, mobile and so on).

With this device we can also control the office environment, using hyperconnectivity to connect to lights, air conditioners, coffee machines, presentation screens and many other appliances and devices.

Of course we are already seeing the beginnings of digital convergence with our smartphones. These devices now allow us to do a huge variety of tasks, from keeping track of our gym schedules to posting on social media. They are cameras, music players and voice carriers. This is merely the tip of the iceberg, however.

Preparing for the future

What all of this means for you, as someone who will work in this future work environment, is that you need to keep up all the time. You don't only have to stay abreast of the latest technology, but also of the latest ways of using that technology.

As technology emerges, so do trends in the way it is used. We only need look at the smartphone once again to see this. The primary use of the cellphone used to be to make and receive calls. However, the convergence of different communications channels on a single smartphone (voice, video, text, instant messaging, social chat, and apps like Snapchat and Tinder) has given people many more choices. The result has been a change in communications behaviour – people, especially millennials, no longer use voice as their main communication method: their preference is for instant messaging apps.

It's only by using the latest technology and being immersed in the ways of using it that you will be able to stay up to date with the new ways of working that you are emerging, and that you will experience when you enter the workplace one day.

We can help you with this – if you need a technology loan while you're studying, speak to us.

Let's start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)

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