Futurist: Rapid technology is changing workplaces

Futurist Roger Dennis believes rapid technology changes will significantly impact workplaces, and the education system needs to pay attention.

A future in which rapidly converging technologies will fundamentally change how we live, work and play beckons. For businesses, taking advantage of new developments can mean the difference between success and failure.

That’s according to futurist, innovation and change consultant Roger Dennis, who is presenting at the Facilities Integrate expo which takes place at the ASB Showgrounds in September. 
“A range of technologies is each accelerating in its maturity. This includes biology, robotics, Artificial Intelligence, information and data, nanotechnology and energy,” he points out.

Dennis says that while it is increasingly difficult to keep track of any one of these areas of technological specialty, the picture becomes even more complex when combinations of technologies are applied to specific vertical markets. 
For example, in the construction and management of buildings, robotics, informed by artificial intelligence, which itself rests on the availability, accessibility and quality of data, can deliver previously unimaginable efficiencies. It could even revolutionise how buildings are designed, constructed, inhabited and managed.

This is the promise of digital transformation: the application of digital technologies that doesn’t just drive efficiency, but which can introduce entirely new ways of doing things. Digital transformation can – and is – having an effect on multiple industries, with the attendant upheaval often being characterised as digital disruption. Of-cited industries that have been or are in the process of being disrupted include transport (taxis), accommodation (hotels), media (newspapers, television and radio) and retail.

“Significant disruptions occur when the enabling technologies combine into new and innovative products and services..." 

“Significant disruptions occur when the enabling technologies combine into new and innovative products and services,” Dennis confirms; while there is an obvious benefit for consumers, who enjoy greater access to a wider range of products and services, often at a lower cost or with improved convenience, there is an impact on incumbent operators. 
Those that fail to adapt are likely to face competition from new players; entire markets can be upended as older business models are driven into obsolescence and new ones are embraced by customers.

“This means that the workplace of the future will likely be significantly different to current environments,” Dennis says. That requires every organisation, including those in the construction and facilities management environments, to have a keen eye on the future. 
It is necessary to anticipate digital disruption and, where possible, front foot it. Some long-standing organisations area opting to ‘disrupt themselves’, rather than allowing digital transformation to become something that happens to them.

There’s another implication, too, to which Dennis draws attention. “Given this pace of change, there needs to be a change in how we educate children so that they are prepared for the workplace of the future,” he points out. By anticipating a future in which technology will play a fundamental role, the employees of tomorrow can be equipped to perform tasks that are likely to be dramatically different from those familiar in today’s workplaces.

Dona White, CEO of North Port Events which is staging Facilities Integrate, anticipates fascinating insights from Dennis. “We’re on the cusp of a revolution which could dramatically change how the built environment is created and managed. Even as technology continues to advance and change our world, we still live in it; knowing the possibilities of what is coming down the line equips us for adaptation.”

Facilities Integrate is a trade-only event that showcases the latest technologies, dozens of major exhibitors, provides relevant seminars and workshops, world-class speakers, networking opportunities, and special deals. The event takes place at the ASB Showgrounds on 27-28 September 2017. Attendance is free with a pre-registration, or tickets can be purchased on site at $25 per person.

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