In 2030 every organization will be a technology organization and as such businesses need to start thinking today about how to future-proof their infrastructure and workforce, according to a report published by Dell Technologies. The research, led by the Institute for the Future (IFTF) alongside 20 technology, academic and business experts from across the globe, looks at how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality and cloud computing, will transform our lives and how we work over the next decade. The report, titled ‘The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships‘ also offers insight on how consumers and businesses can prepare for a society in flux.

Interesting thing about this report is that it is not simply Dell’s technology or market strategy wrapped in the guise of a “research” report like the typical analyst job.

The report forecasts that emerging technologies, supported by massive advancements in software, big data and processing power, will reshape lives. Society will enter a new phase in its relationship with machines, which will be characterized by:

  • Even greater efficiency and possibility than ever before, helping humans transcend our limitations
  • Humans as “digital conductors” in which technology will work as an extension of people, helping to better direct and manage daily activities
  • Work chasing people, in which by using advanced data-driven matchmaking technologies, organizations can find and employ talent from across the world
  • People learning “in the moment,” as the pace of change will be so rapid that new industries will be created and new skills will be required to survive

Dell Technologies commissioned the study to help companies navigate an uncertain world and prepare for the future. Today, digital disruption is ruthlessly redrawing industries. For the first time in modern history, global leaders can’t predict how their industry will fare further down the line. According to Dell’s Digital Transformation Index, 52 percent of senior decision makers across 16 countries have experienced significant disruption to their industries as a result of digital technologies. And nearly one in two businesses believe there’s a possibility their company will become obsolete within the next three to five years.

Not your usual analyst firm, Institute for the Future (IFTF) is an independent, nonprofit 501(c)(3) strategic research and educational organization celebrating nearly 50 years of forecasting experience. The core of our work is identifying emerging trends and discontinuities that will transform global society and the global marketplace. The Institute for the Future is based in Palo Alto, California.

IFTF relied on its decades-long study on the future of work and technology, in-depth interviews with key stakeholders, and the opinions and ideas generated during an all-day facilitated workshop with a diverse set of experts from across the globe.

They studied robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, and cloud computing with the goal of projecting the impacts of these technologies by 2030. I had the opportunity to talk with Liam Quinn, sr. vice president and CTO of Dell Technologies about this report and he added comments about the Internet of Things. More on that interview in my next reflection of the report.

“Never before has the industry experienced so much disruption. The pace of change is very real, and we’re now in a do-or-die landscape. To leap ahead in the era of human-machine partnerships, every business will need to be a digital business, with software at its core,” said Jeremy Burton, chief marketing officer, Dell. “But organizations will need to move fast and build capacity in their machines, ready their infrastructure and enable their workforce in order to power this change.”

“We’ve been exposed to two extreme perspectives about machines and the future: the anxiety-driven issue of technological unemployment or the over optimistic view that technology will cure all our social and environmental ills,” said Rachel Maguire, research director, Institute for the Future. “Instead we need to focus on what the new relationship between technology and people could look like and how we can prepare accordingly. If we engage in the hard work of empowering human-machine partnerships to succeed, their impact on society will enrich us all.”

Other report highlights include:

  • In 2030 humans’ reliance on technology will evolve into a true partnership with humans, bringing skills such as creativity, passion and an entrepreneurial mindset. This will align with the machines’ ability to bring speed, automation and efficiencies, and the resulting productivity will allow for new opportunities within industries and roles.
  • By 2030 personalized, integrated artificial intelligence (AI) assistants will go well beyond what assistants can do now. They’ll take care of us in predictive and automated ways.
  • Technology won’t necessarily replace workers, but the process of finding work will change. Work will cease to be a place but a series of tasks. Machine learning technologies will make individuals’ skills and competencies searchable, and organizations will pursue the best talent for discrete tasks.
  • An estimated 85 percent of jobs in 2030 haven’t been invented yet. The pace of change will be so rapid that people will learn “in-the-moment” using new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality. The ability to gain new knowledge will be more valuable than the knowledge itself.

Exploring the technology areas:

Robotics—Buoyed by their commercial success, the adoption of robots will extend beyond manufacturing plants and the workplace. Family robots, caregiving robots, and civic robots will all become commonplace as deep learning improves robots’ abilities to empathize and reason.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning—According to Michelle Zhou, an expert in AI, development can be thought of in three stages. The first is recognition intelligence—algorithms that recognize patterns; followed by cognitive intelligence—machines that make inferences from data; with the final stage being virtual human beings. It is plausible that, by 2030, we will enter the second stage in AI as this technology progresses.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality—Despite the difference, both technologies represent a fundamental shift in information presentation because they allow people to engage in what Toshi Hoo, Director of IFTF’s Emerging Media Lab, calls “experiential media” as opposed to representative media. The information layer that both technologies create will accelerate the melding of digital and physical identities, with digital drails and traces forming a digital coating over individuals’ physical environments.

Cloud Computing—It’s important to recognize that Cloud Computing isn’t a place, it’s a way of doing IT. It is already in wide use. For example, Chitale Dairy (in India) launched a ‘cow to cloud’ initiative in which each cow is fitted with RFID tags to capture data that is held in the cloud. The relevant analysis of this data is then sent to the local farmers via SMS and the web, to alert farmers when they need to change the cows’ diet, arrange vaccinations, etc. The timely delivery of this information is increasing the cows’ yield, supporting local farmers, whose livelihoods depend on the dairy farms, and enabling Chitale to manage a part of the supply chain which is normally fraught with uncertainty.

You can also check out the Dell blog.

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