The Big Tech Trends For 2016 (and why you shouldn’t believe them)



In late 2010 my personal assistant Sarah-Jane conducted an experiment on me – without my permission or knowledge.

Unknown to me at the time she took my effusive notes from a couple of “Future Service” conferences and sealed them as a private entry in my diary to be opened in 5 years time.

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I was pretty surprised to see “READ ME. Has it come true?” pop up in outlook.

Sarah-Jane no longer works for me but she was a bit of an oddity (in a nice way). A millennial who had a deep mistrust of creeping technology and the digitisation of our culture. She’d closed her Facebook account and challenged me about my burgeoning cheerleading for tech and social business.

“Do you honestly believe any of this stuff will actually happen?” she said of my conference notes. “You should keep this – and check if any of it does”.

Let’s look at the main predictions and whether they have come true.  (A copy of my report is here. The original was on Microsoft word. We had no work access to Google Docs in 2010)

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Not a very good strike rate overall. In fact this is a great illustration of the fallibility of futurology. It has become known as Amara’s Law , that we tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.

All these things are available , just not evenly distributed. I can buy a robot assistant from Japan but I still can’t get decent wifi at Manchester Airport.

It seems the futurologists may have been more successful in predicting the changing relationship between organisations and their customers.

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Although the concept of social business is a slow burn in many organisations I think we’ve largely underestimated the way our work behaviours have changed.

Sarah-Jane has made me realise how far the world of work has progressed in five years.

  • I sit next to a 3D printer.
  • Except I don’t sit I stand – as I don’t have a desk.
  • I don’t use a single work owned device – it’s all my own.
  • I don’t use Word anymore. Or Excel. Or Powerpoint. (Yes, I’m still stuck with Outlook)
  • We publish everything we are working on online , accessible for anyone.
  • We have an Xbox and Wii U in the office.
  • We don’t measure what the team do in hours. They work when they want.
  • I work on solving problems with people in different time zones.
  • I chat with customers in real time, unrestricted by office hours.
  • I get fewer emails everyday.
  • I hardly ever go to meetings.
  • Yesterday I took part in a Google Hangout with people from all over the world.

In our rush to celebrate technology as an end in itself we risk forgetting how simple tools are allowing us to reshape relationships and extend our networks. Five years ago Bromford were still some months away from sending their first tweet. I would have been laughed out of the building for suggesting we need an innovation lab. Our collective network today is light years away from where we were.

When I read my secret message I whatsapped Sarah-Jane to tell her I’d read it (we don’t text anymore). She’d forgotten she posted it and agreed more had come true than had not. I told her I read her return message on my Apple Watch. She said “I knew you’d fall for buying one of those. What a geek. Some things never change”.

Perhaps we all need a little more cynicism when it comes to the big tech trends. It’s the small changes that are going on around us unnoticed that can make the biggest difference to people’s lives.


Future Service: Everything is Connected to Everything

This is a future blog.

It’s from Jack, a tenant.

He wrote it in August 2017 and sent it to us to give a glimpse of how our services have changed. In a world where everything is connected to everything.

He says all of the following is possible.

“I moved into the flat a year ago and I never spoke to anyone or filled anything in.

I gave them access to my personal data pod – everyone wants my data but I only allow trusted people in.

It works better that way.We used to have to fill things in and nothing ever happened. Just questions and more and more questions – but they got everything they needed from the pod so I got the key to my home.

Well not a key actually – the doors work by waving my phone at them and all the information about the flat is in the phone and it tells me stuff about the community – and I can deal with the council and the doctors and pretty much everyone else actually – and it follows me wherever I am.

At first I had a housing manager , Susan, but since I have been getting on ok on my own I don’t need to deal with expensive people so I chose to have an avatar called Susan. She is just like a real one except she works all the time is never sick and has no holidays.

I’ve not really used the repairs service though my boiler is saying that it’s asked someone to come and look at it.

Actually thinking about it – I did use the repairs – I ordered a new window handle downloaded it on to my 3D printer and assembled it.

I’m not good at DIY but I put my augmented reality glasses on and it showed me what I needed to do, I followed the instructions in my eyes and the landlord credited my account as it saved them cash.

I’m moving soon as they knew my girlfriend was spending a lot of time here from her check-ins on the indoor GPS so they suggested that we move closer to where she works.

I picked a new tenancy type and house from the e-store and we are moving soon.

Susan (the fake one not the real one) sorted the removals and insurance and my bills and its all so really easy as everything is connected to everything.”

This blog is the first in a series looking at future service and is inspired by the book Smart Customers Stupid Companies

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