My device is my work.

Stephen Hawking and his device

Stephen Hawking and his device

In September-October 2011 the Economics Intelligence Unit surveyed 567 executives from all major industry sectors and all parts of the globe, for their opinions on how technology would change business between now and 2020. The survey entitled “Frontiers of Disruption: The next decade of technology in business” was released in 2012 and is available on the website of the Economist.

Almost 60% of executives feel that the vertical markets in which they will operate in 2020 will bear little or no resemblance to those in which they operate today. 70% expect to see a high degree of convergence between previously distinct business sectors. Many fear that their own company may no longer exist in 2020. More than half of ICT executives fear that their company will not be able to keep up with change and will have lost their competitive edge by 2020.

Apart from education and public administration, executives in all sectors consider that the main drivers of change will be a relentless drive for efficiency and accelerated rates of change to business models, enabled by big-data. All of these changes, especially the increasingly rapid change in business models will increase the need for training and learning on the job, at all levels of the organization. Overall, executives believe that people will work longer hours than today and more years, mainly out of necessity due to the erosion of pensions.

This suggests that over the next 10 years, we will see not only the ageing of society, but the ageing of the work-force. The challenge of maintaining the productivity of workers as they age despite a natural decline in physical and even cognitive capabilities will become more important, as it will have a bigger impact on overall competitiveness of the company. 80% of executive across all domains and regions either agree or strongly agree that the working environment will become almost entirely virtual. In other words almost all data and information people work with will be in electronic format.

Many believe that there will be a vast reduction or even a disappearance of non-digitized information in the work-place. Most workers will rely on a single network-enabled, cloud-connected device. This suggests that the ability to efficiently and competently use this main access device may be a deciding factor in the employability of the worker. So, designing new devices, services and software in ways that enable accessibility and productivity tools to fuse under a common umbrella will certainly benefit persons with disabilities in their employability skills. Otherwise, by 2020 the access gap could become an even greater barrier to work-force entry or promotion for people with disabilities than it is today.

However, given the emerging trend of personalization and accessibility options that start to gain traction with wider audiences in some devices (especially mobile), it is possible that this one device that the person will have to work with will be able to get extremely customized to the users’ needs and act as an intermediate providing its user the appropriate interface for the data handling that the work will require.

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