What’s a place without people? As retailers, gym operators, and concert venues have all learned this year, its not much of a place at all. Even smaller places like boutiques and restaurants have been forced to reconfigure the ways they do business. The near elimination of public gatherings would have been unfathomable at the start of the year for most people. Successfully navigating the pixelation of in-person experiences is similarly unfathomable to organizations looking to adjust to the new normal. As such, they’ll need previously unheard of solutions. Despite physical limitations, people still desire communities and the ability to connect. For now, virtual and digital options are filling the gap. The pandemic has reset our views and expectations of convening. Are you ready for this brave new world?
This paradigm shift isn’t exactly new. The prevalence of remote work was less than than 5% before the pandemic, but its proliferation has long been expected. French economist, Jacques Attali, predicted 30 years ago that advancing communication and connectivity technologies would lead to a class of rich digital nomads traveling the world for work opportunities. Over the years, we’ve seen gaming arcades replaced by online game portals. And ecommerce sales have steadily closed ground on physical retail sales for the past two decades. That trend is sure to accelerate given the impact of COVID19. In the wake of the pandemic, movie watchers are spending even more time viewing from home. The industry has responded with new arrangements to get content from theatrical releases onto streaming sites in a fourth of the time it previously took. Conferences for the foreseeable future appear to be transitioning to digital formats as well. With this transition new needs arise. The reliance on digital avatars in the era of “deep fakes” calls for greater emphasis than ever on verification and protection of our identities. With limited travel opportunities come the desire to bring far off destinations to our homes. This calls for new content development and in some instances virtual reality platforms to transform to spaces we’ve grown tired of.
Our digital “rooms” have emerged as temporary stand-ins for the real thing. But we’ve got a chance to do more than just replace. We can completely reimagine gatherings of all types with digital enhancements. Doing so will require new ways of thinking and produce new ways of working. Active observation of trends and practicing strategic foresight positions leaders to quickly adapt and potentially capitalize on these changes. Organizations looking to rethink their in-person experiences for the digital age can spur on the process using design fiction. This is a process in which individuals or groups design objects or products that fit in the context of a preferred future. The next phase of the process is to reverse engineer the new object. Groups work to understand what work, resources, or new developments would be required to make their fictional design a reality. One example is imagining the future job descriptions you’d post when looking for workers to help lead your company in its new direction. Below are examples of roles orgs will need to help them pursue remote experiences as pixels usurp places:
Augmented Reality Journey Builder
Design, write, calibrate, and gamify personalized stories that fully immerse audiences and augment their every day environs. The journey builder will create entirely new experiences and leverage pre-existing intellectual property to reimagine familiar experiences for fans of classic content. Augmented reality grants content creators creative license in ways previously unimaginable. Uploaded to our Pandora-for-AR platform, these experiences will be ready for use, redeployment and recombination into countless situations and parameters.
AI-Assisted Healthcare Technician
Medical facilities are often tasked with serving large swaths of rural areas. The distance from patient to facility discourages regular visits and increases cost for both patient and practitioner. AI enhanced healthcare aims to alleviate those concerns. Not only does the technology allow for telemedicine, but the analysis and processing of machine learning platforms augment the knowledge of medical professionals. This closes the shortfall on medical doctors by decreasing the time needed for training and increasing the reach of those professionals. The new phase of healthcare is here, and we want to take you on the next stage of your healthcare career as we work together on building a more efficient, caring and accurate hospital system. In this role, you will be on the road and in surgery to examine, diagnose, administer and prescribe appropriate treatment to patients, aided by cutting-edge AI technology and remotely accessible doctors. The ideal candidate will be excellent at building close, trusting relationships with patients and efficient in making optimal use of the digital diagnosis tools and remote doctors at their disposal.
Virtual Identity Defender
Identity fraud impacts millions of people every year. Increased virtual communication and the proliferation of technology like facial recognition and “deep fakes” present even greater threats going forward. Our company is at the forefront of creating authenticatable digital watermarks that prove the veracity of someone or something and, conversely, signal an illegitimate intention in their absence. We’re looking to fill the role of lead virtual identity defender, to scale and strengthen our existing product portfolio. This person will be adept at safeguarding the digital presence of our clients across multiple devices and formats.
How might your company find or develop the talent needed for these or other jobs of the future? At the CFOW, we’ve used this exercise to better understand the impact of emerging technologies, platforms, and workers on our shared future. Clients have benefitted too as we host workshops focused on their industries and offerings to identify points of disruption or opportunity in the years to come. Its one of our most useful exercises as it humanizes the types of services or products that future customers will want and the ways in which a company will serve them.
Currently, pixels are stand-ins for places. Even the most enthusiastic early adopters of remote work couldn’t have predicted this sudden and sweeping shift. Further, no one knows exactly how long it will last or what the transition back to “normal” will be. Perhaps we never transition at all and instead remain in a hybrid state of pixels and places. Design fiction can help us to imagine what that state might be like and the resources necessary to make it a preferable experience. The pandemic is hastening the adoption digital placemaking trends in the future of work. Now is the time to envision your place in that future.