A 10-year crystal ball for business

Ambitious project maps the future for Aussie companies

S2 Intelligence, an Australian company that researches technology and business innovation, recently released The Future of Business 2008 - 2018, a detailed report on how emerging information technologies will impact industries, organisations, and work.

The author, Dr Bruce McCabe, said that even the most fundamental aspects of everyday work are changing rapidly, with many changes coming within the next two years. By 2010, for example:

  • It won't be possible to go for a job where the interviewer isn't armed with a deep profile of all social connections you have made, including those you didn't want people to know about;
  • Video is going to invade every aspect of working life. In many occupations, from service technicians to construction workers, wearable digital cameras will run continuously through the working day;
  • Six out of 10 workers will have stopped deleting documents, files, images and recordings, and will henceforth keep everything as an indexed, searchable extension of their memory, for the rest of their life.
  • "Mobile, flexible working practices mean every manager will have to alter the way they measure performance," said Dr McCabe.

But new technologies will also play a role in meeting this challenge. "Looking out five years, for example, the majority of call centre workers will be measured not just on volume of calls but by machines that listen in and interpret the customer satisfaction in their conversations."

Just as many disruptions will apply at the industry level, including the following developments before the end of 2010:

  • The rules will be rewritten in health insurance as the cost of personal genomic testing kits falls below $100;
  • Leading governments will prepare new legislation using Wikis;
  • 90 per cent of travel and hospitality businesses will be paying for advertising in mirror worlds such as Google Earth.

The next Y2K is also coming according to Dr McCabe, "Within two years, most big businesses will be on their way to spending three times as much on systems for carbon accounting and sustainability reporting compared to what they spent on Y2K."

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report

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