SUPERHEROES OF THE UNIVERSITY AND WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE
GENERATION PUBLIC NEXT GLOBAL STUDIO
Superheroes of the university and workplace of the future by Mark Kelly Who will be the superheroes of the workplace of the future, what skills will they have and what technology will they use to communicate and deliver? How will this workforce of superheroes be trained and what emphasis will be placed on learning and research in their collective development? How will we consider present day scenarios and evaluate an exponentially different and better future?
Basic bricks and mortar are predictable to an extent, but how will we understand the changes in the world of commerce and communications that will mean a new generation of smart collaborators leading from within a complex organic ecosystem? How will we define and manage the university or the workplace of the future? We are able to recognise major changes in the hierarchy of the workplace as we move from the typical pyramidal structures of the past, so dependent on the authority of the ‘boss’, to a more organic structure based on networks of collaborators. In tandem with these social changes, we see a next generation expectation of higher levels of health and wellbeing in parallel with a heightened sense of responsibility to do the right thing in terms of energy and resource use, for example, the increase in desire to reach a zero carbon objective. The world of architecture and design thinking is no longer bound by the demands of local relationships and clients. Increasingly they are seeking out globally benchmarked design solutions that not only satisfy local objectives, but place the building on the map to create additional interest from a ravenous intellectual user group that understands what is happening in every major city of the world. In fact ‘major status’ is often defined by the number of international trophies a city has in its architectural CV. Scientific research is opening doors to new applications that will further transform the way we work and collaborate. Meanwhile, the more we learn about ourselves and the way we work, the better we’ll be at developing technologies that serve our changing needs in these places of tomorrow.
While the future of work is unlikely to be driven by any specific technologies, it will certainly be enabled by a confluence of many. And as usual, the largest impact will occur at the hotspots where multiple trends intersect. Researchers and thought leaders at the Institute of the Future1 have devised the following technology augmented work practices: “From Just-in-Time to Proactive Contextual Computing: We will all move from time-consuming foreground computing to ambient, proactive, and contextual computing. This means that our smart, wearable systems will negotiate with embedded sensor networks and pervasive information to process patterns of our activities, patterns of places where we work, and perform tasks on our behalf.”
We will develop a true ‘sixth sense’ supported by the potential of suitable technology that will interpret, evaluate and support us to do what we do better and smarter.
Image: Microsoft Productivity Future Vision video
“From Sparsely Sourced Analysis to Deeply Informed Decisions: Our most important decision-making and planning practices will change substantially. Using more powerful combined-knowledge processing applications for data mining, semantic analysis, numeric analysis, pattern processing, visualisation, and simulation, we are moving from making decisions based on shallow analysis and thin resource processing to deeply informed decisions and plans. From Formal to Emergent and Cooperative Organisational Structures: New cooperation technologies, including social software such as Facebook and Twitter and the increase of the use of smartphones, will enable us to move from working in small co-located and formally aligned clusters of enterprise workgroups to larger, loosely coupled, ad hoc networks of mobile colleagues. In this new structure, we will work virtually in distributed teams cooperating on specific tasks and projects together in real time. Upon task completion, these teams will dissolve and reform in new arrangements based on the next task.
From Desk-Bound to Ubiquitous Displays: We are growing closer to a world where interaction with displays will be seamless and ubiquitous. As we move through our workspaces, our mobile personal information artefacts will be capable of seamlessly projecting a personal, common digital workspace on nearby ambient displays, on desktops, in meeting rooms and public spaces, on wearable displays, and on dashboard screens. From Real World to Virtual World Interaction: Through a combination of pervasive connectivity, abundant computational resources, and new graphic- and media-rich telecommunications, we will be able to stay in continuous contact with colleagues and share work tasks seamlessly in both virtual and physical spaces, regardless of location. As we see the emergence of new real worlds that combine the fluid social interactivity of applications like Second Life with the spatial integrity and veracity of Google Earth, we’ll be able to meet, share data, and work together with new graphical visualizations and simulations.”
08 We will not only know where we are in real time, but will be able to share abundant and rich data with many collaborators at the same time to establish the best decisions from multiple sources. If we observe the common household of today with TV, laptop and mobile devices all synchronised and working in tandem, it requires a new capability to interact with multiple sources of data and to relish this heightened level of connectivity. A single focus on one subject will no longer be sufficient and we will need to train a more capable younger generation that will readily adopt the new devices and unlock the true potential of the information and knowledge on offer. There are seven key technology clusters that will enable these shifts as outlined in the Institute of the Future’s Technology Foundations research2: 1. Proactive computing 2. Amplified collaboration tools and processes 3. Sense making and visualisation tools 4. Device webs and sensor webs 5. Ubiquitous displays 6. Abundant computation and abundant connectivity 7. Common 3D graphical interfaces. From 1970s Star Trek to more recent examples in Minority Report, Avatar and all the superhero genres, it is clear that we will see the emergence of a different, more technology-tuned cohort of leaders. Our universities and business schools will need to respond and adapt as these new skills develop. A different type of skill and focus will emerge that will require a variety of work styles and the business of the future will need to work harder to attract and retain the best talent in a more fluid and organic workplace. All work will be within a living, breathing ecosystem across nonexistent global geographic and language boundaries.
Workers, researchers and students will emerge with a new spectrum of technology-enabled skills such as those noted by the Institute of the Future2: “Ping Quotient: Excellent responsiveness to other people’s requests for engagement; strong propensity and ability to reach out to others in a network. Longbroading: Seeing a much bigger picture; thinking in terms of higher level systems, bigger networks, longer cycles. Open Authorship: Creating content for public modification; the ability to work with massively multiple contributors. Cooperation Radar: The ability to sense, almost intuitively, who will make the best collaborators on a particular task or mission. Multi-Capitalism: Fluency in working and trading simultaneously with different hybrid capitals, e.g. natural, intellectual, social, financial, virtual. Mobbability: The ability to do realtime work in very large groups; a talent for coordinating with many people simultaneously; extreme-scale collaboration. Protovation: Fearless innovation in rapid, iterative cycles; the ability to lower the costs and increase the speed of failure. Influency: Knowing how to be persuasive and tell compelling stories in multiple social media spaces (each space requires a different persuasive strategy and technique). Signal/Noise Management: Filtering meaningful info, patterns, and commonalities from the massively-multiple streams of data and advice. Emergensight: The ability to prepare for and handle surprising results and complexity that come with coordination, cooperation and collaboration on extreme scales.”
Conclusion The future is going to be brighter and better than the smokestack dependent past, where manufacturing created wealth and defined the future of nations. Objects of desire and need will be manufactured wherever costs are lowest and will increasingly be managed by sophisticated industrial robots. The true leaders and superheroes of the workplace of the future will be the conceptualisers and innovators. They will be able to use every device and system at their fingertips, collaborating across boundaries to explore, evaluate and define solutions to the relevant problems and opportunities of the time. This is the technology which will shape their learning and development and ultimately their impact on global commerce. References 1. Institute of the Future: The Future of Work - Technology Foundations: http:// www.iftf.org/node/754 2. Institute of the Future: The Future of Work - Perspectives: http://www.iftf. org/node/2774
Mark Kelly Director of Education, Science and Health Mark Kelly joined Woods Bagot in 1987 and has worked across Australia and the UK. He currently resides in Melbourne as Director of Education, Science and Health and Director of Sustainability, heading up Woods Bagotâ€™s global team in the design of specialist complex data centre and biomedical research facilities. A registered architect in the UK and all States of Australia, Mark is a member of the RIBA, AIA and has exhibited project work at the Royal Academy, London and the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. Mark is widely published and is a regular keynote speaker at Medical research, specialised building and sustainable design conferences.
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