Record everything

The new approach to knowledge work will end the need to delete of emails -- and just about everything else

Sixty per cent of knowledge workers in the US, UK, and Australia will have effectively stopped deleting documents, e-mails, audio, and video files from their hard drives by 2010, and we will soon see this taken to another level with widespread proactive recording in the workplace, according to Australian research company S2 Intelligence.

"By 2013, we are going to be confronted with workers who want to record the proceedings in all meetings they attend, and record and keep all their phone calls," said Dr Bruce McCabe, managing director of S2 Intelligence. "And they won't always ask for permission."

The conclusions come from an analysis of expected technology progress and changing usage patterns.

Falling storage costs are an important factor. S2 Intelligence forecasts that one terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of digital storage will retail for around $US80 by March 2010, and will be standard issue on new mobile phones before 2015.

Additionally, new software technologies will make it increasingly practical to index, search, and retrieve all types of information from personal archives, including snippets from within sound and video files.

"Organising and deleting files takes time, and well-paid workers already find it more attractive to just buy another hard drive when they run out of storage," said McCabe. "Within two years, we can expect the majority of information workers to keep every file they download, and rely on personal search engines to find what will be useful later." The type of information kept by workers will also expand, boosted by a trend towards proactive life recording by younger workers, who are capturing more and more extensive digital records on their daily activities.

Although this phenomenon will produce social, legal and ethical challenges, it will also create new commercial opportunities. "A more pervasive, continuous record is a tantalising corporate asset," said McCabe. "It can be mined to offer new insights into company operations, and to improve training, workplace safety and quality control. It also represents a Holy Grail for consulting companies trying to retain knowledge and intellectual value in their organisations."

The forecasts were released from the recently completed S2 Intelligence report The Future of Business 2008 - 2018, How Information Technology will Transform Industry, Organisations and Work.

Len Rust is publisher of The Rust Report.

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