What will your role as an IT leader look like in 10 or 15 years? It's a safe bet that your office today looks nothing like what we can expect from the office of the future. We've seen glimpses of the possibilities. There are already companies conducting meetings with VR, working out of smart buildings, and integrating AI in really meaningful ways. For example, you can use AI to book your next vacation with the technology behind WayBlazer.
But what happens when all this technology become as commonplace as the laptop and mobile devices you already use to power your day? Based on some of the smartest innovations in office tech today, we've compiled a list of what you can expect from tomorrow's workplace.
Just another day at the office of the future
- AI security: After arriving at the office in your driverless Uber, you stand in front of the door just long enough to complete your retina scan. Once the building's biometric security has verified your identity, you walk past your building's dedicated robot security guard and give it a quick nod, "Good morning." While the biometric scanner at the door keeps the right people out, your lobby bot is a productive member of the organization in its own right. With the ability to read facial expressions and process voice commands, its work includes identifying lost guests and giving directions.
- VR meetings: As you walk up to your workstation, the lighting above your desk turns on and your touchscreen fires up. You're running five minutes ahead of schedule, which gives you just enough time to check your centralized chat, email, and voice message inbox. Only one thing in your inbox requires your attention, so you make a note to your chatbot to remind you to follow up with Josh from marketing in 30 minutes. You put on your VR headset and join your global team for the daily agile stand-up meeting. Fareeha, the PM on your current project, has a flair for adventure. As your team meeting starts rolling, you're pleased to see it's virtually set on a beach in Tahiti. Yesterday's stand-up meeting was casually held in outer space.
- Immersive training: After dictating your response to Josh's email, you review the results of your newly hired employees' security training. Fortunately, all of your onboarded new hires are leveling up nicely in "Secure Me," the immersive VR game you and your IT team designed last year. So far, the realistic game has successfully helped non-tech employees combat hackers with some serious social engineering skills.
- Collaborative 3D modeling: You greet Ana, the only member of the product team who shares a physical location with you, as you silently snap together two desks in one of your office's collaborative spaces. Today, you and Ana are working with members of the product development team to design a new wearable. Your marketers share some crowd-sourced feedback on your beta design, as you work to 3D model the design updates in real time. Thanks to your 3D projector, you end the meeting with a decent mock-up of the third design iteration.
- 3D-printed everything: It's lunchtime, but you've felt better. Allergy season is the worst, and your hay fever is acting up. You head downstairs to your company's on-site clinic. Fortunately, the nurse practitioner quickly prescribes you some much-needed, non-drowsy allergy meds which are 3D printed immediately at the on-site dispensary. Still, you decide you'll accept her advice to finish your workday from home.
- An algorithm is your boss: You stop on the way home to grab some orange juice. Fortunately, your organization's machine learning investments have allowed you to shift to a performance-defined culture. It's great having an algorithm for a boss, because it means you're free to run errands when you need to. Besides, you've got a call later this evening to talk to your developers on the other side of the globe.
- Self-healing office equipment: As you scan your way into your apartment to finish out your workday, your watch buzzes with a new message. It's a network alert, informing you that an attempt to recruit your third-floor east printer into a DDoS army was successfully averted by the machine. You're relieved the issue's been logged and the printer self-healed itself from the attack after segregating the threat from the network. Crisis averted.
- Design thinking: Your IT team is tasked with creating a new conversational interface for your HR software. Your next call for the day involves members from all types of work and functions across your organization. You listen to your colleagues propose solutions for a friendlier interactive app. The call concludes with your Chief Data Science Officer sharing his findings on how users engage with the existing UI. You've got a follow-up meeting planned next week, but you're excited about the direction in which this project is headed.
- Chatbots: You spend 20 minutes with Ned, your chatbot. It's time to assign tasks to yourself and to the members of your team based on the three meetings you've had today and a few questions that hit your message channel this morning. Even though you're getting a little tired, you're glad that Ned's smart enough to recognize your vague references to project documents and files and get them attached to the right tasks.
- More continuing education: You take it slow on your apartment complex treadmill and zone out while listening to the curated tech podcasts selected via your company's continuing learning algorithm. Today, you're learning about your favorite topic—drones!
Humans and tech in the office of the future
While no one can really predict the future with much accuracy, it's likely to be a place that's connected, filled with artificial intelligence, and revolves around emerging forms of collaborative technology. As an IT pro, someday your role may not resemble the specifics listed here, but there's a good chance you'll be armed with more advanced, self-healing technology that propels you to work smarter.