Tuesday, January 05, 2016

It's Time for Technology to Disappear

In 2015, technology reached the tipping point for me, it moved from the efficient column, to the inefficient column, from a pro to a con, from a help to a hindrance. You can hear it in every complaint about how email messages are overwhelming our day, interfering with priorities, impacting our schedules, hurting our productivity and forcing more of us to take our work home at night and over the weekend.

In 2016, technology needs to disappear into the background, while productivity and purpose should be the siren's call. We have approximately 700,000 hours between our birth and our death. About 350,000 of those hours are spent in our careers. How many of those hours do we want to waste on poor technology experiences? I propose the following technologies must disappear, and by disappear I mean fade into the background:
  1. We shouldn’t have to read through hundreds of useless email messages to find the three necessary to complete our job. Communications need to change and email must disappear behind a veil of utility and productivity.
  2. We shouldn’t have to check dozens of different locations, apps and websites to communicate with our work colleagues and friends. All of these various collaboration and communication platforms need to disappear into a consolidated and efficient aggregated solution like Slack.
  3. Communication technologies should disappear into the background, and the quality and utility of the message improved by technologies.
  4. Email and meeting driven schedules must disappear, in favor of schedules that honor purpose and deliverables. This may mean prioritizing thinking time and mental productivity. Scientists agree that the creative parts of our minds work better at different times of the day. Those times need to be reserved, blocked and honored on schedules, to optimize their utility.
  5. The requirement to develop, store and retrieve dozens of different passwords and user names must disappear. The ability to accurately authenticate a user must become more efficient and secure.
  6. Trivial messages and alerts from hundreds of different sources arriving 24 hours a day must disappear. Trivial messages and an urge to immediately respond must not be allowed to negatively impact our thinking, creating, planning, sleeping, loving, relationship building, driving and the handling of dangerous equipment.
  7. On-premise IT solutions, hardware and apps that serve to distract from the business, and offer no additional business value, competitive advantages or market agility must disappear into the cloud.
  8. The 200+ mobile applications on my iPhone must disappear into an artificial intelligence engine (think advanced Siri) that will access their functionality and assist me even before I ask.
  9. Mobile applications that are not personalized, and are not contextually relevant should disappear. I don’t care what you sell, if I am not interested, or it is not relevant to me, I don't want to see it.
  10. The routine process work I do on my computer must go away. Intelligent process automation should be pushed down to individuals. An AMX mobile app should process my expenses without me. It should only alert me to exceptions, not the routine.
  11. Everyone agrees that ideas, creativity and innovation are critical to the success of businesses, but technologies today are more often a hindrance than help in these efforts. Technologies and the use of technologies that hinder creativity and innovation must disappear.
In the lifecycle of technologies, there is a time when users are enthralled and distracted by the technology itself, we are there today, but these times must quickly pass and the technology must disappear into the background. In the year 2016, it should be all about making 2015’s technology disappear.  

The challenge with making technology disappear, is it is hard, time consuming and expensive.  Adding a layer of artificial intelligence, that can analyze data, understand context and personalize an experience is complex and hard, but that is how technology disappears.
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Kevin Benedict
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.