Isn’t it time we started to work like we live?

01/04/2018 05:52 am ET

Without wanting to state the obvious, our world continues to shift, evolve and change at near breakneck speed. A decade ago, you might have looked up from your daily life and reflected that things are very different now than they were for your parents. Today, the pace of technology – along with the unpredictable nature of the global economy and politics –- means even six months ago looks like a bygone era.

Take Uber, for example. It’s a business that came in with one objective in 2011: to disrupt an established industry. As a service bringing convenience at the tap of a screen, it was largely welcomed and hailed a success by consumers. Roll forward to September this year, and it’s a brand in disarray after losing its licence in London amidst a sea of controversy, and faces an uncertain future.

The seemingly limitless acceleration of technology has changed our lives beyond recognition, manifesting in all areas of our lives: our behaviour, beliefs and expectations. Right back at the dawn of the modern age, scientists predicted that the microchip would have a profound effect on the way we live our lives. They were right but few would have guessed just how profound this change would be, and the ability of technology to surprise and exceed our expectations still continues – which is very exciting.

The blurred line between work and home

First of all, gone are the days in which the commute from your office separated your professional world from your private life. You can now be both, at all times in all places. If you want to work at home you now have a suite of necessary tools just waiting to be utilised: email, video conferences, VPN. Your life can be lived as you want it or, to coin a phrase, increasingly you can “work like you live”. It’s no wonder, then, that 58% of workers are looking for ways to work remotely in order to improve their travel schedule, according to research by Regus.

But how many times have you sat staring at a document that’s become unresponsive, or rolled your eyes in frustration as your VPN fails to connect for the third time trying? This isn’t conducive to the instant experiences we expect in our home lives, which brands like Netflix and Amazon Prime are delivering.

Now we’ve experienced the truly instant experience there’s no way we’re ever going back. Our experiences of technology outside of work – instant travel, entertainment, dining and social interactions – means we’ve shifted our assumptions of speed, relevance, value and experience. Great leaps in technologies like mobile, internet search, big data, machine learning, artificial reality, virtual reality, quantum computing and many more are powering all these trends.

An outdated workplace

But there’s a disconnect between how we use tech to manage our lives outside work, and what happens when we step into the office. Sadly, often the systems and devices we use at work require us to lower our expectations. The instant culture of our personal lives is often absent when we’re in the office; we’re asked to forget our thumb-driven world and regress several years. Enterprise software is often bloated, clumsy and decades behind the rest of our digital life.

I believe we should help people work like they live and the new generation of relationship intelligence solutions are beginning to make this happen. This is particularly crucial for employees working in customer-facing businesses, where success almost entirely depends on the customer experience. (Gartner research found that 89% of marketers now expect to compete solely on this).

In the near future, technology such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) should be able to provide background on the customer or prospect with little input. For example, their title, where they work, their education, family information and even personal hobbies and interests. By automating the aggregation of large and diverse data sets, and using deep learning techniques, businesses will be able to understand their customers at a deeply personal level. Our video looks to the future to envision just what this could look like.

Looking ahead

We’re not quite there yet, and predicting the future is always fraught with surprises. Perhaps the best way to sum this up is to reuse a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”. In other words, if you spend your time waiting for the future to arrive you’ll find it’s already been and gone. It’s time that our experience of technology became universal, working seamlessly wherever we are, whether we’re working or playing.

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