When you think about the future of work, what’s the first thing that comes to mind about what is driving the change? For most people, it’s technology. And for good reason–technology is everywhere. It’s growing at a faster pace than ever before and plays a huge role in our professional and personal lives. How we work is largely connected to the growth of new technology, and that is sure to increase in the future. But change comes from more than just new technology. There are a number of other things to consider, including environmental, legal, and societal factors–even the best new device can’t make an impact if people aren’t willing to use it or if it goes against environmental or societal norms.
Think about the Internet of Things. On its own, it is a great resource and a framework with a tremendous potential. However, that alone isn’t enough to drive it towards its full impact to create change. Without standardized regulation, privacy and security concerns could take over and make the technology unusable. There are also legal and political ramifications to consider when connecting devices and sharing information, especially if that data is sensitive or could be dangerous if if were to fall into the wrong hands. Without security measures in place, governments and corporations could be hesitant to fully use the power of the IoT to share things like confidential information and research and development of new products. There are also societal issues to think about–if people don’t trust the system or understand how to use the connected devices, the IoT wouldn’t be successful, especially since the network’s power grows the more devices are connected to it. Before the IoT can have the dramatic change we want it to, the infrastructure must be in place to support everything about the devices, not just the technology.
Another example is autonomous cars. The technology is advancing rapidly, but one of the biggest holdups for self-driving cars to actually hit the roads and be mainstream is that people are generally still very hesitant to get in a car without a driver. No matter how successful the tests have been and how safe the companies claim the cars are, there is still a mental block for a large number of people about the safety and reliability of the cars. There are also regulatory issues to consider about what would happen if an autonomous car got in an accident, not to mention the ethical dilemmas like how an autonomous vehicle would decide between an unavoidable accident that would potentially kill or hurt the passenger or a bystander. These issues need to be discussed and agreed upon with a strong legal framework that is consistent across states and countries, and then passengers need to be on board with the decisions so that they feel comfortable having self-driving cars on the road, even if they aren’t the ones in the cars. Although the technology is developing quickly, many of the other issues haven’t been discussed or agreed upon, meaning that the potential changes that could come from autonomous vehicles haven’t yet come to fruition.
Just because technology has been developed doesn’t mean it’s ready for the change. In order to truly be successful, the other considerations must be met. Although it plays a large role, technology alone is not enough. If we really want to see change, we must consider all the other factors as well and work towards the entire picture of the future. Once we think about everything that goes into actually implementing the technology will it really be successful.
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.