Many things in today’s world are growing exponentially, but perhaps nothing faster than technology. As these exponential technologies continue to grow, they will no doubt play a huge role in shaping the future of work.
Like the name implies, exponential technologies are expanding rapidly and beyond what most people can keep up with. In 2013, the number of people on the planet and the number of network devices were the same, at around 7 billion. Just two years later, in 2015, there were double the amount of network devices as people on the planet, and by 2022, experts estimate that there will be between 75 and 300 billion network devices to only 8 billion people on the planet. The growth is staggering, and it can be overwhelming to even think about trying to keep up. But rapid technological growth will undoubtedly change how we work, so forward-thinking companies are paying attention and doing what they can now to prepare.
In order to even try to keep up with the huge amounts of data being created and dispersed every day, companies need to be strategic with their approach to data. Helping employees and customers know what data is the most important to focus on can streamline processes and help people avoid looking in the wrong place for data that isn’t particularly relevant.
According to Dr. David Bray, Former Chief Information Officer of the Federal Communications Commission, there are three things a company should focus on with the exponential growth of data and connectivity:
1. Employee collaboration. Increased technology means employees have the tools to collaborate better than ever, but how will companies actually make that happen? The best collaboration tools will scale as technology grows and increases, and the systems to use might not even be created yet. Organizations need to be agile to implement collaboration systems as they are created.
2. Paranoia. According to Dr. Bray, every company should be paranoid that someone else will disrupt their business model. Exponential technology and increased data provides new tools for how we work, and companies that don’t find ways to use those changes to their advantage could be disrupted and replaced by the competition. Companies should never be too complacent or comfortable in their data use strategies.
3. Privacy. As data grows and more and more devices are connected to the Internet of Things and other networks, privacy becomes a much bigger issue, both for a company and for individuals. Companies should have a flexible plan in place so they can protect their assets and employees from cyber attacks. Some of the biggest threats likely won’t come from technology within the company, but from what employees bring with them, including phones and wearable devices. Privacy is a constant issue and something successful companies are always thinking about. One possible solution would be for companies to share their privacy issues and resources with each other. Though it requires companies to be more transparent and vulnerable, it could pool resources for faster privacy growth.
Exponential technologies are evolving and changing every day. Even just a decade ago, no one would have likely predicted where we would be today with machine learning and artificial intelligence. Although we’re still in the early stages of truly adopting these practices into our workplaces and lives, the stage is set for them to play a major role. As Dr. Wray puts it, machine learning is a lot like a five-year-old who has been immersed in language but never taught grammatical rules. As its vocabulary continues to grow, it will soon pick up on grammar. We are on the cusp of huge breakthroughs in AI and related fields that have the potential to change just about everything as we know it.
Exponential technologies will continue to grow faster than we can imagine over the coming years. To leverage the technology, prepare now and plan to adapt as new technologies are introduced.
Learn how exponential technologies are shaping the future of work here.
My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If… and join the discussion.