I was interested to receive an email from Amazon, the headline for which is No time to read. You need Audible. It seems Audible is now the world’s leading provider of digital audio books and it made me think about a piece I read on the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Amongst the myriad of new technology on display there were two significant themes to come out the show; first the only screens that are growing in size are televisions, everything else is reducing in size. The second theme is the increasing use of the human voice as we move to take advantage of AI and the Internet of Things. As a side bar while televisions screens are getting larger the remote controls are now voice activated.
Hal R. Varian writing in MIT Sloan Management Review is signalling that over the next five years we are likely to see significant change in the way we work and communicate which has implications for Managers at all levels.
Hal Varian paints a picture that sees managers having digital personal assistants that set up meetings, make appointments, organise trips, co-author documents, access databases and dashboards, and assist with real time translation. All will become much simpler, more intuitive, and more convenient. All of this will be done through a mobile platform which has increasing computing power at a lower cost.
As AI develops in areas such as voice recognition then we will be speaking and listening more. In fact, engineers at Microsoft are reporting a word error rate (WER) of 5.9% on their platforms which is approximately that of human ability.
So what does this mean for organisations?
We are already seeing a time shifting workforce: people are starting work at different times, there is an increase in virtual teams, and people are working remotely from their workplace at different times during the course of the month – I know I am.
The way we communicate is going to change, which why there is already growing demand for podcasts and audio books (otherwise why would Amazon bother) because of the versatility of use they offer while driving, at the gym or commuting. Email is losing ground to other forms of instant messaging. These new channels will be needed to reach an increasingly diverse and decentralised workforce.
We are all going to be speaking and listening a lot more as the future unfolds.
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