Technology at Work, a Lifetime of Change – Part 1

Karl McDermott
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On: 4 Feb 2016
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In this blog Karl McDermott, Three Ireland’s Head of ICT, looks at how much technology has changed over the years and altered how we work.

Picture this, it’s 1995. You’ve had a busy day at the office learning about the new ‘electronic mail’ system that, apparently, will bring an end to the sending of letters and faxes. Sadly, Ireland has just lost the Eurovision Song Contest after three consecutive wins but never mind, there’s a new comedy called Father Ted about to start on TV.

However, your mind is on other things. Your boss is visiting your office tomorrow for the big monthly meeting. It’s always a case of ‘expect the unexpected’. He’s bound to throw the usual curve balls your way. In the back of your mind you have a niggling feeling that you’ve forgotten to prepare some of the figures you need to present and it is rapidly turning into a sense of dread! If only you’d brought home the paperwork that your assistant prepared. The office is locked now and the meeting is first thing in the morning. Who needs email training? You knew it would get in the way of your work, didn’t you?

Of course, fast forward just two decades and this scenario looks radically different…

Goodbye manual number crunching.

Now cloud software outputs 90% of the data you need automatically whether that’s from CRM, ERP, HR or other corporate systems. Rather than you worrying all night, the new enterprise app on your smartphone allows you to double check this without even rising from the sofa.

Goodbye office!

You’ve worked from home today, because you needed some quiet time to prepare for the meeting. Having picked the kids up from school, caught up on your partner’s day and made a little time for TV, you’re about to log on again and put the final touches to your presentation. After all, your desktop and everything you need is now accessible from anywhere on any device, using cloud, Wi-Fi and 4G.

Goodbye face-to-face meeting.

Your boss has just FaceTimed you to say he can’t make it and wants a conference call. Phew – it’s a good job you remembered to download that new web conferencing app to your phone last week. Now you can do the meeting from the calm of your kitchen table with your favourite mug of coffee.

Whether you were in the world of work 20 years ago or not, I am sure you will agree that it is a radically different place today than it was back then. In a relatively short time, we have moved from working in a predominantly fixed environment to one which is now largely fluid and flexible. Just two decades on but we’ve seen a lifetime of change.

At the heart of this change is the way we access the tools, technologies and information needed to do our jobs, and how we communicate with others. Access used to be defined by hardware, location and fixed networks. As the user you had to be in the right place at the right time, with the right technology. Today your ‘desktop’ follows you around – any place, anywhere, any device.

Technology has made the world of work change beyond recognition.

Read part 2