The Future of the Workplace

a Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce event - 8th Sep 2016

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We were honoured to have been asked to speak and demonstrate at The Future of the Workplace, a Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce event in which emergent and disruptive technologies were revealed, explained and discussed.

The event, sponsored by Vodafone, allowed business people to engage with technologists, designers and academics, to learn more about the opportunities and challenges presented by emergent technologies. Other speakers at the event introduced technologies including Augmented Reality, computational intelligence such as text analysis and voice recognition, and future workplace design.

Vodafone Research

The Productivity Paradox

Group 1 = executives, Group 2 = teenage gamers

Edward Hussey from Vodafone revealed the company’s excellent research into the future nature of work and productivity. Vodafone’s research demonstrates that 15 year old gamers are far more productive than established business management at working together collaboratively and inclusively, solving problems and delivering project results. Vodafone calls this The Productivity Paradox. Of course, the opportunities presented to these millennials in the corporate world aren’t commensurate with their abilities, leading to what Vodafone terms The Opportunity Gap. The challenge is therefore how to utilise this valuable resource, and engage young people in the workplace, integrating and valuing skills learned not in an academic environment but rather as a hobby.

Augmented Reality is a Reality

Brighton Festival Fringe Brochure in Augmented Reality

Brighton Festival Fringe Brochure in Augmented Reality

Tom Jackson and Jonathan Barrowman from RamJam introduced and demonstrated Augmented Reality, explaining how the technology could be used to enhance many common business scenarios, including training and immersive learning, as well as Virtual Teleportation, a new paradigm for teleconferencing. Their Augmented Reality contributions to the 2016 Brighton Festival Fringe brochure were a brilliant use of the technology to encourage exploration and engagement within what is otherwise, essentially, just a catalogue.

Dr Jeremy Reffin, co-founder of the Text Analytics Group (TAG) Laboratory in the Informatics department at the University of Sussex, talked about how scientists have been trying to interpret meaning and context in text, and the rise of voice recognition technologies.

Jo Upward, Managing Director of Platform Group and a Vice President of the Institute of Customer Service, spoke about the design challenges surrounding the future workplace, and how not every office has to look like the headquarters of Google. She explained that it’s more important to fully engage staff, meeting and understanding your customers’ needs, and creating a flexible and adaptable working space.

Q&A Panel

The Future of the Workplace Panel

The Future of the Workplace Panel

Pete Jenkins, founder of JFDI’s partner company Gamification+, compered the event and fielded questions from delegates, which touched on data security, job security, cost of future technologies, and which beach to retire to. Data security was reckoned to be mostly a human problem now, and job security to be an illusion against an ever-changing backdrop of employment and work activities. The cost of technologies was divided into knowledge and software, the expensive part; and hardware, being very cheap. Jeremy Reffin said “I don’t know why people have such difficulty with paying for software. Software can do so much for you, and for minimum wage” – an opinion with which we at JFDI wholeheartedly agree.

JFDI R&D Projects

JFDI’s R&D Director Jon Silver showed off some of our Automate Everything R&D projects around Smart Buildings and the Internet of Things, involving microelectronics, 3D printing, software engineering and middleware APIs. In his introduction, Jon said:

It’s unusual for a small IT consulting firm to engage in full-scale Research and Development, but we believe the future is out there for the shaping, and we have the capability to create new technologies which will directly benefit our customers.

Everything we do, everything we’ve ever done, is novel and innovative to some extent. We’re engineers at heart – we solve practical, real-world problems. Decades ago we had dreams of automating everything, and we’re now realising those dreams on the back of technological innovations engineered by a whole host of brilliant minds.

Together with Gamification+, our Motivate Everyone programme is allowing our clients to better engage their staff and customers, monitoring and changing behaviours with Gamified Intranets and software systems. Our Automate Everything initiative has opened even more new doors for both us and our customers, as we strive to create practical workplaces of the future, in the near future. Joining up isolated systems is part of that mission, automatically moving data around faster and more accurately than any human could manage, which we’ve done for Brighton & Hove Chamber of Commerce.

But that’s just the beginning of the story. Combining many emergent computing technologies, such as computational intelligence, with electronics and 3D printing, we’re able to rapidly prototype physical or virtual devices which solve real-world problems. Key to problem solving is the generation of data where once there was none to be had. Businesses need data for alerts and decision making. With the ability to generate and intelligently analyse thousands of data points per day where once there was no data, our clients gain new insights into their business performance, and get early warning of the bad news sometimes months or even just precious moments before the threshold between prevention and firefighting. For example, our security client who will soon know immediately when a box is offloaded from a van at the wrong location, instead of weeks later when the fallout hits and the damage has been done.

At JFDI, the future is here now, if you want it.