What will the way we do business look like in five or ten years’ time?

18/4/18

This was the topic discussed around the tables at the Three Counties Business Club (3CBC) networking breakfast at Pennyhill Park this morning and one which resonates, as I may still be working in ten years’ time.

Some on the table would however be retired and others had exit strategies in mind, but half of us would still be at work. Where will we be working, however? Who will we be working with? What jobs will have been replaced through applications of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems?

One of my fellow networkers has an outdoor space design business with sophisticated software enabling him to advise clients on the effects of climate and seasonal changes on building design, which uses Big Data in its algorithms. Big Data is in the News, with Facebook apologising for personal data being harvested by a third-party. Another businessman on our table had experience of the agricultural sector in the Netherlands where autonomous systems are having the effect of removing the lower skill jobs from farming in that country.

Will only skilled jobs remain in ten years’ time? As a group we thought not. A gentleman with business in the care sector made the point that whilst back office functions are becoming streamlined through using smart Apps, BOTS in his view could never replace dedicated patient care. We didn’t try to resolve the dilemma of the current shortage of care workers in the UK; a topic for another breakfast meeting. Big Data in the health care sector is however having a positive effect, drawing in personal medical condition information from those of us who choose to take part, to inform the medical community on ailments, their treatment, the success or otherwise of those treatments and even the spread of diseases globally.

Sue and I recently took part in the BBC’s Pandemic ‘social experiment’. One of the most likely and immediate threats to our species and to the way we do business too, is a global pandemic of a highly infectious and deadly disease. A deadly flu outbreak tops the UK Government’s Civilian Risk Register. So, what can we do about it? Crucial to fighting a pandemic is predicting how it might spread through the population. Using a smart App, BBC Pandemic simulates a deadly flu outbreak by collecting anonymous data about how we behave, interact and travel. By participating you will be anonymously contributing vital data about how far you travel and how many contacts you have in a 24-hour period. This will enable researchers to predict how a real outbreak might affect the UK and what could be done about it. This study is open to anyone. You just need to download the App! I digress …

Who will be working and where will they be working in ten years’ time? In the room, as other table hosts presented their feedback on this topic it became clear that those in work will have to be much more agile, working here, there and everywhere, with employers having to be far more trusting of employees. None of us want sensors in our home office to let our boss know, through the Internet of Things, when and if we are at our desks! We did conclude that although the virtual office may be even more common place by 2030, people will still want to meet and so the days of business breakfast networking are far from numbered. For more information on the 3CBC: http://www.3countiesbusinessclub.co.uk/ Download the BBC Pandemic App from iTunes at: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/bbc-pandemic/id1274960535?mt=8

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