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A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

by Carol Rozwell  |  August 19, 2015  |  Submit a Comment

Lately, we’ve received a raft of questions on how to use new technologies to make the organization more appealing to a “younger generation” of workers. The implication is that the current workforce – today consisting largely of traditionalists and boomers – is satisfied with the mind-numbing and hard-to-use applications that have been thrust upon them over the years.

Speaking as one of “them” I can verify that the desire for technologies that are natural, helpful, and universal applies to me, too. The rising tide of expectations – that the applications we use at work will be as simple and intuitive as those we use for our personal business activities – appeals to employees of all ages. What’s more, I’m excited about the prospect of having help from smart machines so I can more easily find relevant people and information and ignore the stuff that doesn’t matter. Even better if my virtual assistant colleague can watch how I work and proactively determine what is useful for me based on my actions. That’s helpful.

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Natural technologies will understand me, instead of me needing to figure out how an app work before I can get value from it. Apps that talk and can interpret voice commands are not so novel anymore. Where the real advances will come from are apps that can listen, interpret and learn. They will have to be able to understand non-verbal communication, too. Gestures and body language, for example. Instead of people interfacing with computers, the computers will interface with people.

These technologies will also need to be universal and ambient – there all the time but not so invasive that I feel like my privacy is violated. That’s a tricky sea to navigate since privacy is such a personal thing. I have a Fitbit that I credit for keeping me on the go but I’m not ready to share my stats with the rest of the company just quite yet.

There are hints that this vision is already unfolding. I will be satisfying when more capability is commonplace. It will be nice to have technologies that make me more effective at the most important work I do rather than just hanging around the edges of utility.

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Carol Rozwell
VP Distinguished Analyst
11 years at Gartner
21 years IT industry

Carol Rozwell is a vice president and distinguished analyst on Gartner's Digital Workplace team. Read Full Bio




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