Is the fact that mobile tech changes work supposed to be a good thing? Why is it that things which were supposed to make our work easier and quicker often end up giving us more work to do? Take the automobile: it was originally intended to create more time in the day by making chores that would normally take hours be done far more quickly. But of course, before the car, if it was 3:00 and something would take four hours, you would have to put it off til tomorrow. Now with the car, though, you could get it done, and have time to do other things- like popping in to the old-timey Wal-Mart (Wall-Marte, presumably). Suddenly, your day was more full than it would have been when you were less efficient.
It has been the same with emails, and to an extent, our smartphones. As miraculous as they are, they give us the impression that we can do work at any time. I work with people across the country, and so there is no real time-frame for when work “ends,” as emails can pop up at any time (being somewhat heroic, I’ve trained myself to ignore it). It’s gotten to the point where a story about France banning reading work emails after 6:00PM ricocheted around the globe, with some derision, but also envy (alas, the story wasn’t strictly true). So it might seem that our mobile technology hasn’t quite made our jobs easier or better yet; it’s just allowed us to carry our work around.
But that isn’t the case – at least not anymore. Until now, smartphones have just been an extension of our work, not really a way to augment or revolutionize our jobs. But, as hard as it is to believe, while we can’t remember a time without these devices, we’re still in the infancy of this technological revolution. Increased power, combined with the connectivity brought to us by the Internet of Things, will allow our devices to re-imagine work in nearly every field, and possibly bring the future to us before we know it.
Mountain View Company Reaching into the Clouds
Jasper, a technology company based out of Mountain View, CA, has long been working on creating a platform to connect us to the Internet of Things. This cloud-based platform would enable enterprises and mobile operators to have a secure arena in which to connect people to the IoT. Jasper is a company on the rise, as indicated by yesterday’s announcement that their latest round of fundraising brought in $50 million in new capital.
As this and similar platforms get stronger and more secure, it will change the way we live. RIght now, we all know it is at least theoretically possible to turn on your car, or your house alarm, or maybe your microwave from your smartphone, and all that is amazing. But it is just the beginning.
Healthcare and Smartphones
Over the last decade, few companies have seen their name go from the height of hip to a punchline as dramatically as Blackberry. They were a severe example of technological Darwinism- adapt or die. They went from the ultimate status symbol to a realm of signifiers that includes pagers and parachute pants. But there are two ways to the top: smart or lucky (often both). Blackberry wasn’t dumb; it was just both too far ahead of its time and not far enough. It got washed away by the next wave.
But if recent indications are true, Blackberry is changing its model and focusing its energy in a different field: healthcare. Few arenas have the capability to be technologically transformed as much as healthcare, and Blackberry’s new CEO seems to recognize this, having purchased a share in NantHealth. NantHealth wants to change healthcare by allowing doctors to have 3D imagery and mobile capacity in diagnosing and treating patients.
For there to be a mobile revolution in healthcare, there needs to be security, and Blackberry has that. It’s easy to see where this is going: a doctor in Duluth can get a full picture of a patient in Chicago, and another specialist in Turkey can aid the Duluth doctor in not just diagnosing, but in performing an operation, using the Internet of Things and secure cloud-based platforms to safely operate surgical machinery from around the globe. It’s a whole new world. Analysts are already calling it Blackberry’s best move in a decade. There are also auxiliary signs that the field is growing, as many VFX designers are moving away from games and toward the growing career of 3D medical imaging.
OK, but I’m Not a Doctor
And if you aren’t either, you may be wondering how this affects your job (thrilled as you may be with how this affects your health). Well, technology trickles down. Already, you can use your phone to conference with colleagues in India or Germany or Brazil, sharing documents and ideas from the comfort of your home. So depending on what kind of work you do, you may not see an immediate impact.
But imagine this: your car is broken. Instead of going in to the mechanic, they can pull up an image of your engine, immediately diagnose the problem, and use the IoT already in the car to fix it. Or you go to the store, and the connection between the registers and the stockroom has alerted them that they are running out of Pop-Tarts well before it becomes an emergency, and so it is already re-shelved before you get there, preventing you from having to go to three or four stores to get your fix.
Suddenly, real time is opening up. You can learn what items are on a shelf or send your mechanic the problem without stopping work, which means you can get it done. Now, you might be saying, doesn’t that revert us to the initial paradox? That of having so much time that we naturally fill it with more work?
I suppose that is possible, and depending on attitudes, perhaps even probable. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I think we’re reaching a limit on how much we can stuff into a day, and there is a backlash. But with the way that mobile technology, secure cloud-based platforms, and the Internet of Things are intersecting, the backlash won’t be of a Luddite variety. I’d like to think we’ll be more like that person, pre-automobile, who saw the day was ending, and instead of being able to go do 5 more things, sat back, looked from her porch at the setting sun, and knew that things got accomplished today, and that was enough. And anyway, isn’t Game of Thrones on?