The Future of Work

Tech Predictions for 2018

By Chris Fleck

New technologies will begin to appear this year that will forever influence the way we work, how we get our jobs done and who we work for. Many projects will be funded under the umbrella of digital transformation initiatives that target improved productivity and customer engagement by leveraging the latest technologies. Some of what you can expect to appear in 2018 include:

• Workplace transformation. Although not new, expect a broader adoption of open workspaces, with un-assigned seating and limited dedicated private offices. Perimeter offices are disappearing, and cubicle walls are being lowered to encourage collaboration and open line of sight. Organizations are adopting this workplace environment to drastically cut real estate costs, and, at the same time, they want to increase productivity to create a sense of an “office of the future” and a hip place to work for employees.

• The “internet of things” will help enable workplace transformation by automating authentication, regardless of which workstation an employee chooses. Live floor plans will indicate open spaces in which to work and even help locate your colleagues. Automated conference rooms immediately will start and connect meetings, eliminating the usual wasted time at the beginning. Companies such as Citrix will extend the value of virtual desktops to make work from anywhere possible. This will spur future workplaces leveraging IoT.

• Augmented reality will appear in workplaces. At first, this will be primarily in labs and pilots, but the use cases will be more visible and validated. The Microsoft HoloLens will continue to gain interest for specific enterprise uses, such as industrial and limited health care. Locally, Magic Leap finally will show the public what it has been developing. Initially, that probably will be targeted at consumer entertainment, but, eventually, augmented reality has the potential to replace personal computers, displays and even smartphones in the future office.

• Chatbots — in the form of interactive agents — will continue to pop up. Many e-commerce consumers have used them on websites for support and sales questions, although most of these are driven by human beings working remotely. Expect a significant increase in these self-service robots to respond to your questions.

• Artificial intelligence will drive the chatbots as well as many business operations to reduce costs and improve productivity or customer engagement. Machine learning, a subset of AI, will provide deeper understanding of massive data that is collected and will create new opportunities to automate and improve operations.

• Facial recognition will go mainstream, led by Apple and its new iPhone X. Besides unlocking its smartphones, Apple is enabling this technology to be built into business applications to increase security and ease of use. This will open the door to other facial and biometric technologies in the workplace.

If you work in a progressive organization, you might already be living in this future work state. If not, your company is likely to be observing and evaluating the adoption of these technologies soon.

Chris Fleck is on the board of the South Florida Technology Alliance and vice president of emerging solutions for Citrix Systems (Nasdaq: CTXS), a Fort Lauderdale company that provides secure delivery of applications and data.

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