I had the strangest dream last night. Strange for two reasons. Firstly, because it was remarkably coherent, lacking the usual abstract scenarios and flying trains, and secondly because, i can remember it.
I was stood in a room with twenty people, making a presentation about how smartphones, tablets and mobile devices were going to evolve over the next five years and, as it still seems to make sense now that i’ve woken up, i thought it would make a good blog post.
I’ve convinced myself that it’s a sign of maturity as a writer that i’ve had one of those epiphanic moments when stories fall fully fledged into your mind whilst you sleep, but i suspect in reality it was more a combination of some fine Dorset cheddar and cheap white wine, but, whatever the cause, see below.
Three things that will change our lives: (1) Increased collaboration, (2), situational awareness from devices and (3) push notifications.
Today, a large focus of much training and development is ‘broadcast’. It’s messages that are crafted and then launched, fully fledged, into the world. We receive and decode these messages, and try to do things differently as a result. All of this is changing. Increased collaboration, real time feedback, virtual coaching and better management data means that we will be more active participants in the story. Instead of receiving messages that are fully formed, we will be active participants in their creation, taking part in scenario based training, sharing best practice, challenging other learners and being challenged ourselves, and breaking down the notion of ‘learning’ being a discrete activity.
Just look at how you interact with people now, compared to how you did it ten years ago. Texts, emails, calls, conference calls, webex and shared desktops, social media in all it’s forms… the list goes on. There are multiple channels for communication, where there just used to be two: phone or in person. Ok, three if you count letters from your aunt.
The impact of the opening up of these channels is momentous. Communication is more spaced out, but also more brief and fragmented. More ‘chat’ style formats for messaging in Facebook, for example, mean i regularly exchange one line emails. We even dispense with the ‘dear’ and ‘sincerely’. These are conversional, virtually synchronous, communications. Collaboration is the new watchword in learning. Blogs, wikis, forums, distance learning… all of these things are built on a foundation of communally created knowledge.
And so to the second pillar of change. Situational awareness from your phone.
Ok, it might not seem like much, but trust me, when your phone starts to know where you are, then the world is going to change. First, your phone is going to start telling you when friends are nearby. Then it’s going to start telling you when you can save money by taking a particular bus or train, or you’ll be able to take a photo of a telly you want to buy and it will tell you where to get it cheaper.
You see, once your phone knows where it is, it can start to mine the wealth of information washing around the internet and it can start to try and put two and two together. Whilst this change will initially be driven by advertising revenues and retail, there will be other, wider, changes taking place.
Imagine that you’re visiting a particular site or client, and your phone (or tablet, or whatever comes next) is constantly pulling relevant information towards you, depending upon your location. If you’re near to Stonehenge, it’s going to pull in relevant information, and this data is increasingly going to be parsed and presented in more and more useful formats. The days when search engines present primary data will be eclipsed by meta analysis and the presentation of increasingly refined results. As text, image and audio data start to merge, as computers can start to recognise stonehenge from a photo, the quality of what we see will shoot upwards. But that’s another story.
The third elements of will be increasingly sophisticated push notifications. This links into the other two parts, because at the moment, notifications are a bit vulgar, a bit common. Your phone beeps and clicks at every opportunity, letting you know when you have email, texts and so on. This will change. The next release of the Apple iOs is rumoured to be looking at consolidated notifications, as will much of the research at Facebook and other social media outlets. The sheer volume of notifications becomes paralysing, so there will need to be some kind of parsing and analysis done automatically, based on your behaviours, location or preferences, and this will change how your phone speaks to you.
So there you go: collaboration, situational awareness and notifications. Three ways that we will change how we learn and how we work. As dreams go, it wasn’t bad, although i must admit that more spaceships would have improved it somewhat.